Look past the Prius’ alien styling and it’s a reasonably roomy family car that’ll cost pennies to run. Unfortunately, some desirable options aren’t standard
The Toyota Prius’ odd styling might make it look like some kind of futuristic spaceship but its tried-and-tested hybrid system makes it incredibly cheap to run. You can also get it as an even more economical plug-in hybrid model but it’s much more expensive to buy and you’ll need somewhere to charge it regularly.
The standard car’s interior might not look quite as quirky as its exterior but it’s still a far cry from the relatively mundane cabins you’ll find in a Hyundai Ioniq or Kia Niro. Thankfully, it’s all pretty easy to use and besides a few cheap-feeling plastics on entry-level models everything feels fairly solid.
Less praiseworthy is the Prius’ infotainment system. Its dated graphics and slightly sluggish menus feel at odds with its futuristic interior and you can’t get it with any smartphone mirroring features. At least mid-range cars get a colourful head-up display – just like a fighter jet.
Thankfully, passenger space is a bit more business-class flight than military-issue cockpit. You’ll have no trouble getting comfy in the front if you’re very tall and there’s space for most adults to stretch out in the back. Sure, the taller Kia Niro has a little more headroom but there’s still enough room in the back of the Prius for three adults to sit side-by-side or to fit some bulky child seats.
The Toyota edges ahead of the Kia and Hyundai in terms of boot space, too. There’s enough room for a large baby buggy and some big soft bags and even plenty of space under the floor to tuck the load cover if you need to carry some tall suitcases. Flip the back seats down and there’s enough room for a bike.
There’s a reason most Uber drivers have a Toyota Prius – it’s very economical, pretty comfortable and you can even get them with wipe-clean back seats
You can only get one engine in the Prius – a 1.8-litre petrol paired with a compact electric motor. This combination lets you cruise along at slow speeds in electric-only EV mode or use both the motor and engine together for brisker bursts of acceleration. The standard-fit automatic gearbox helps seamlessly blend these two units together and makes the Prius very easy to drive around town.
It’s impressively comfortable for a hybrid too, and wind noise is mostly muted – even at speed. You’ll hear quite a lot of tyre noise on the motorway but it’s still quieter than either the Hyundai or Kia. The Prius leans a little more than the Hyundai on tight twisty roads but it comes with an identical five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. This makes it a very safe family car that’s well worth considering if you want an economical hybrid that’s also practical.
You can read more in-depth info on the Toyota Prius in the interior, practicality, driving and specification sections of our review over the following pages. And, if you want to see what kind of savings to expect on the Prius, click through to our deals page.