When the Toyota Prius was overhauled for the 2016 model year, it arrived with an updated exterior design, a more accommodating cabin and a much-improved ride quality.
The Prius' essential appeal, of course, is fuel economy. And with an EPA rating of 52 mpg in combined driving, the latest Prius delivers in a big way. Even if you drive it with a heavy foot, this Prius will return better mileage than just about every car on the road.
There's more to like about the Prius than its fuel efficiency. For one, it's a practical hatchback with more cargo room than a typical hybrid sedan. It's also quieter than you'd expect of a compact hatchback, with very little road and engine noise when you're driving around town. And with the exception of Toyota's clunky Entune smartphone app, the technology interface (navigation, audio, phone) is also slick, stylish and easy to use.
Last year's overhaul put more distance between the Prius and its peers. The Chevrolet Volt is an obvious rival, offering similar hatchback utility and more understated style. But it's also a plug-in hybrid (competing more with the plug-in Prius Prime) and is more expensive. Instead, check out the new Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, which is a surprising equal to the Prius in almost every measure. If you're looking for more rear passenger room, midsize sedans such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid or Toyota Camry Hybrid are also worth considering.
The 2017 Toyota Prius comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and a passenger seat cushion airbag. Also standard for 2017 is a rearview camera forward collision warning, forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, and lane departure warning and intervention. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert comes standard on the Prius Four and Four Touring.
The Safety Connect system that can be added to Prius Four and Four Touring is subscription-based (with a one-year free trial) and includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, and one-touch access to roadside and emergency assistance.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Prius Three came to a halt from 60 mph in 120 feet, an average result for the class.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Toyota Prius is a four-door hatchback that seats five passengers. It's available in seven trim levels: One, Two, Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, Four and Four Touring. The compact Prius C, larger Prius V and plug-in Prius Prime are different models covered in separate reviews.
The Prius One and Two are similarly equipped, with the One missing just a few minor features, such as a rear window wiper. Otherwise, standard feature highlights for both include 15-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, keyless entry (driver door only) and ignition, automatic climate control, dual 4.2-inch driver information screens, adaptive cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice recognition with Siri Eyes Free, and a six-speaker audio system with a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and a CD player. All 2017 Prius trims also come standard with forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and intervention, and automatic high beams.
The more efficient Prius Two Eco comes with ultralow-rolling resistance tires, a lighter lithium-ion hybrid battery, an inflation kit instead of a spare tire, and illuminated keyless entry. The rear wiper that comes standard on the Two trims is not offered here.
Inside the Prius Three you'll find simulated leather on the steering wheel and armrests, white interior accents, a wireless phone charging pad and the Toyota Entune premium infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation, satellite radio, HD radio, and access to apps such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, OpenTable and Yelp when paired with a smartphone running the Entune app.
The Prius Four comes with a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic wipers, simulated leather upholstery with contrasting white stitching, heated front seats, a power driver seat with adjustable lumbar, seatback storage pockets and a rear cargo cover.
Standard equipment on the Three Touring or Four Touring includes everything from the corresponding Three or Four, plus 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, LED clearance lights, unique rear bumper styling, and imitation-leather upholstery with contrasting blue stitching.
The Prius Three and Four can be upgraded with the Advanced Technology package, which consists of a sunroof and a head-up display. Finally, the Prius Four and Four Touring can be equipped with the Premium Convenience package, which includes a 10-speaker JBL audio system, a self-parking system and Safety Connect emergency services.
The 2017 Toyota Prius comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors/generators. Their combined power is sent through an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) that feeds as much as 121 horsepower to the front wheels. Light to moderate braking transforms one of the electric motors into a generator to keep the hybrid battery topped up.
We tested a Prius Three and recorded a 0-to-60 mph time of 9.8 seconds. That's a few tenths quicker than the last-generation Prius but still slower than most average hatchbacks. By comparison, a Camry Hybrid gets to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, something to keep in mind if you get nervous when merging onto the highway.
The upside to the Prius' leisurely acceleration is an EPA fuel economy rating of 52 mpg combined (54 city/50 highway). Our on-road testing of a Prius Three proved that this result can be readily matched or surpassed. Those looking for ultimate frugality can turn to the new Prius Two Eco, which returns an astonishing 56 mpg combined (58 city/53 highway).
The 2017 Prius sacrifices speed for mileage, so its sluggish acceleration is part of the package. With its excellent noise suppression and initial surge of electric acceleration, the Prius doesn't feel particularly slow around town. It mainly suffers during higher speed situations such as getting on a freeway or attempting to pass slower traffic.
One area in which the latest Prius is much improved over its predecessor is the ride quality. It feels more substantial on the road, so you get less noise, fewer jolts over bumps and a solid feel through the steering wheel. It's still not as refined as some other traditional sedans in the midsize class, but considering its level of fuel efficiency, it's not a bad trade-off.
Older Prius models had a quirky, futuristic interior layout that, although useful, suffered from cheap-looking and cheap-feeling plastics and fabrics. The latest Prius has a more conventional layout and higher-quality materials. A stubby shifter with a separate Park button is used for selecting forward, reverse and neutral. A speedometer and gauge array sits high in the center of the dash, and although it looks cool, it's not an ideal location. There is, however, an optional head-up display that can display the most crucial information directly in front of the driver.
Interesting seat fabrics and imitation leather show up even on lower trim levels, and the layout and controls are easy to understand and use. The 7-inch touchscreen responds quickly to commands, and though high-level smartphone integration requires a clumsy Entune app, you can do without and still have a satisfying experience via USB or Bluetooth audio connections.
Cargo space stands at 24.6 cubic feet, an impressive number that's a full 3 cubic feet more than the previous-generation Prius. The Prius One, Two Eco and Prius Four twins offer even more cavernous space — 27.4 cubic feet — as the lack of a spare tire allows for a lower load floor.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.