2009 Toyota Prius Review

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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Outstanding fuel economy, generous amount of interior space, easy to maneuver in tight spaces, high-tech and luxury goodies available.
  • Less powerful and agile than other midsize sedans, uncomfortable for 6-foot-plus drivers, a few disappointing interior plastics.

No car boasts a better blend of fuel and space-efficiency than the 2009 Toyota Prius.

Vehicle overview

It's hard for car people with 93 octane running through their veins to realize this sometimes, but not everyone loves to drive. Not everyone gets a kick out of taking a turn quickly, or shooting away from a traffic light four times faster than the guy next to you. No, "most people" think of their cars as personal transportation devices on a slightly higher plane than their Frigidaires. It doesn't really matter what the steering feel is like, as long as the car offers lots of space, an easy-to-drive demeanor, worry-free reliability, a place to plug in your iPod and excellent fuel economy. For "most people," the 2009 Toyota Prius is possibly the ideal car.

First and foremost, this quintessential hybrid is the most fuel-efficient mass-production car currently on sale. While you pay a premium for all that hybrid sophistication, you're rewarded with considerably more refinement than a typical fuel-efficient subcompact (like a Honda Fit) has to offer, and there is something to be said for rewarding Toyota's technical innovation rather than Exxon-Mobil's ability to refine crude oil.

Beyond its fuel-sipping ways, the Prius features loads of available high-tech luxury goodies, which should appeal to those who are trading out of a pricier luxury car, as well as those cross-shopping the Prius against midsize sedans like the Accord and Camry. Moreover, the Prius stands out against such sedans by offering a funky but uniquely space-efficient body design. Believe it or not, there's more backseat legroom than a Ford Crown Victoria, with ample hatchback cargo capacity to boot. It may not look big from the outside, but climb inside and you'll find the Prius surprisingly large and utilitarian. It is a tad narrow, though, and taller drivers will find the driving position off-puttingly awkward.

There are other standout hybrid vehicles available for 2009, each offering similar gasoline-electric systems while providing a little something different. The Toyota Camry Hybrid offers a more luxurious and conventional driving experience. The Nissan Altima Hybrid is the fun choice for those who think of cars as something other than just an appliance. The Ford Escape Hybrid is the choice for those looking for an elevated driving position, all-wheel-drive and added utility. Finally, the Honda Civic Hybrid is an economical choice priced similarly to (but smaller than) the Prius.

Nonetheless, no car combines fuel- and space-efficiency quite like the 2009 Toyota Prius. In the end, we think this is the hybrid that will best meet the needs of "most people."

2009 Toyota Prius models

The 2009 Toyota Prius is a midsize hatchback available in three trim levels: standard, base and Touring. The standard model comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, tilt-only steering wheel, touchscreen and steering-wheel controls, a hybrid system display and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player. The base trim (also known as Package 1) adds different wheels, a cargo cover, heated mirrors and cruise control. The Touring trim is differentiated by a sportier suspension, 16-inch wheels, xenon headlights, foglights and a larger rear spoiler.

The Prius options list (available on base and Touring trims) is extensive, capable of transforming this hybrid from humble economy car to near luxury status. Buyers can pick from one of the following packages. Package 2 adds stability control, a rearview camera, keyless ignition/entry and an auxiliary audio jack. Package 3 includes those items plus an alarm system, Bluetooth and an upgraded nine-speaker JBL stereo. Package 4 (available on the base only) adds xenon headlights and foglights. Package 5 includes the previously listed equipment and adds a voice-activated navigation system. Package 6 is like Package 5 but includes leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel. A choice of satellite radio providers is a stand-alone, dealer-installed option.

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2009 Highlights

There are no significant changes for the 2009 Toyota Prius.

Performance & mpg

Underneath the Prius' hood resides Toyota's "Hybrid Synergy Drive." This drivetrain consists of a 1.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine and two electric motors -- one driving the front wheels, the other functioning solely as a generator to recharge the car's battery pack. Power is routed through a specialized continuously variable automatic transmission. The gas engine produces 76 horsepower and 82 pound-feet of torque. With the electric motor, net peak hp is 110, which is deceiving since the two power sources hit their peaks at different times. Regardless, power delivery is smooth and consistent from rest all the way to top speed. In performance testing, we clocked the Prius from zero to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds. The EPA estimates the Prius will achieve 48 mpg city/45 mpg highway and 46 mpg combined.


Every 2009 Toyota Prius comes standard with antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Stability control is available on all but the standard trim level. In government crash tests, Toyota's hybrid car earned four stars out of five for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. In side-impact testing, it earned five stars for front-occupant protection and four stars for the rear. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Prius the top rating of "Good" for its protection in frontal-offset and side-impact crashes.


Driving a Prius is, well, different. There is no audible engine start-up when you press the ignition button, just an instrument panel light that says "Ready." The transmission selector is a stubby knob protruding from the dash. Thanks to its Hybrid Synergy Drive, the 2009 Toyota Prius can accelerate up to about 25 mph using only electric power, kind of like a huge golf cart. It's all rather strange for those accustomed to conventional vehicles, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Aside from its idiosyncrasies, the Prius features minimal cabin noise and a suspension that provides an acceptably smooth ride despite the car's weight-saving chassis components. The Prius makes a fine highway companion, but it is particularly well-suited to the city, where its light electric steering, tight turning circle, excellent visibility and available rearview camera make it easy to park and maneuver through traffic. Also, this hybrid returns its best gas mileage in stop-and-go driving, as it's able to spend more time in full-electric mode.


The overall look of the 2009 Prius is upscale, if not a little oddball. The dash is flat and wide, with a large touchscreen, digital gauges, stubby electronic shifter and plenty of steering-wheel buttons. Climbing inside, you tend to feel as if you're about to take a trip in Epcot's "Car of the Future." Fit and finish is very tight and materials are pretty good, although some plastics are a little cheap. We've complained before about centrally located instrument clusters, but the Prius' electronic gauges are at least crystal-clear, mounted high and located close to the driver's line of sight, almost like a head-up display.

Although the Prius offers a spacious cabin and comfy seats, the driving position is poor for taller drivers, as the driver seat is not height-adjustable and the steering wheel does not telescope. This is an area that will hopefully be addressed in the next-generation Prius. The backseat, on the other hand, offers plenty of room for adults and rear-facing infant seats. The 14.4-cubic-foot hatchback trunk is also quite large and can accommodate several roller suitcases, golf clubs or a double stroller. Plus, the folding seatbacks provide an uninterrupted cargo area that no sedan can match.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 Toyota Prius.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.38 out of 5 stars
excellent car
4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Bought my car in 2011 with 30k miles on it. It now has 230K and the only thing I have replaced is 2 headlight bulbs. Had regular service every 5000 miles. Driven everyday for business and personal use on the interstate, up and down mountains and regularly maintained good mpg. Started off around 47mpg and still around 44mpg even after 200K miles added to the odo. I am 6ft. Interior cabin was a little small for me but other capacities made up for lack of comfort. My wife was recently in an accident and the prius held its own. Protected her in a 65mph crash. Unfortunately it was beyond repair. Will purchase another and hope it will serve as good as this one.
4.13 out of 5 stars
Standard 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I have owned many different cars, Jeep, Ford, Nissan, Pontiac and so on. I HATED all of them. from reliability to comfort to fuel economy. I have alwasy be skeptical about buying a hybrid but one day I was so fed up with the vehicle I owned, I went straight to Toyota and traded it in for a 2008 Toyota Prius. Two years later, it is still the best automotive decision I have ever made. Although it does have some road noise, the ride is amazing and smooth. I see alot of complaints about the comfort of the seats but I find them more then suitable, there smooth, soft and comfortable enough to seat five people. I live in North Eastern Pennsylvania and I am a Prius driver for life.
3.88 out of 5 stars
Zero problems
Standard 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I bought my 2009 Prius new and have now driven it for almost five years. It has just over 70,000 miles on it, and so far the only maintenance expenses I've had are oil changes and one new set of tires. It still has the original brakes and they still aren't showing signs of wear. I'm not sure why so many others find the car uncomfortable -- I'm six feet tall and have no problems. I've driven to Florida from Pennsylvania in it and was never uncomfortable. Minor gripes: The gas tank does not fill up willingly after it's about 80% full. You have to coax in the last few gallons little by little. I don't love its looks, either, but accept that trade-off to average 47 MPG year-round.
4.88 out of 5 stars
Best car out there!!
4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I bought my 2009 Toyota Prius about 3 weeks ago preowned with 39,000 miles. I love it!!! I traded my 2000 Cadillac Deville DTS in for it. I drive 120 miles a day to work so I needed something really good on gas. This was it!!! I have been averaging 41- 46 mpg all the time. The other night I drove 60 miles home from a firends house. It was over an hour drive on a back rd of Maine which I drove 55-60mph. I got home and got 48mpg all the way. (I have the pic to prove it)The secret is to get up speed and maintain it. I spend a lot of time only using my electric motor at 45-55 mph just maintaining my speed. It takes some getting used to but once you do youll love playing the mpg game :) this 2009 prius is amazing in the snow. I live in Maine and travel the highway 120 miles a day for work. Its awesome in the snow. Just walks right through everything. I pass every car on the highway. It goes through slush like its not even there. From a stop the traction control works great!!!


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2009 Toyota Prius

Used 2009 Toyota Prius Overview

The Used 2009 Toyota Prius is offered in the following submodels: Prius Hatchback. Available styles include 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), Touring 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), and Standard 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). Pre-owned Toyota Prius models are available with a 1.5 L-liter hybrid engine, with output up to 110 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Toyota Prius comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Toyota Prius?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2009 Toyota Priuses are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2009 Toyota Prius for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2009 Toyota Prius.

Can't find a used 2009 Toyota Priuss you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Toyota Prius for sale - 2 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $17,123.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 2 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $25,503.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota Prius for sale - 11 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $13,829.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 12 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $19,641.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 Toyota Prius?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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