Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback
Price £21,995 - £33,395
- Low running costs
- Very practical interior
- Reliable hybrid engine
- High price
- Ride is quite firm
- Noisy when accelerating hard
At a glance
"The Toyota Prius is undoubtedly the world's most famous hybrid – and for good reasons. It's economical, practical and reasonably good fun to drive."
The Toyota Prius is the world's best-selling hybrid. Now more than a decade old, the name Prius has strong eco-friendly reputation that many of its rivals, such as the Honda Insight, Lexus CT and Toyota Auris Hybrid, still struggle to compete with.
Today, there are two main versions of Prius. The standard Prius hatchback boosts its power by using its brakes to generate electricity that's then supplied to electric motors. That means the Toyota Prius is capable of driving relatively short distances on electric power alone, but in most circumstances the electric motors assist the conventional petrol engine in order to save fuel.
The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid is quite a different beast, although it looks virtually identical. Owners can plug it in for 90 minutes to get up to 15.5 miles of electric-only driving range. Once the batteries are drained, it switches over to the petrol engine and drives in the same way to a standard Prius. Best of all is that buyers can receive a government grant of up to £5,000 for this model – meaning it's only marginally more expensive than the standard Prius – and that makes it our top pick.
The basic model still offers some of the lowest CO2 emissions of any UK model – 89g/km, so it's road-tax exempt – and short journeys can be completed using the electric motor to increase savings and further reduce emissions. Its performance isn’t bad, either, even though the steering doesn’t give enough feedback and the CVT automatic gearbox is smooth but slow.
The current Prius Plug-In is the most efficient version so far, taking fuel economy and CO2 emissions to the next level. It can return up to 134.5mpg and emits a tiny 49g/km of CO2, so it's exempt from the London Congestion Charge. If you need more space, the Prius+, a seven-seater MPV version of the standard hatchback, is also available.
There's only one version of the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, and it wants for very little extra equipment, with sat nav, cruise control and a JBL stereo all standard.
The standard Prius comes in three trim levels: T2, T4 and T Spirit. All versions are fairly well equipped, with 15-inch alloy wheels and a rear parking camera among the highlights across the range. The T4 model also features a JBL stereo and cruise control, while the T Spirit adds sat nav, leather seats and an automatic parking system.
The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid offers rock-bottom running costs
The Toyota Prius is easy to drive in town and quite quick for an eco-friendly model
The Toyota Prius is impressively quiet around town, but the suspension is firm
Compared to many modern hybrid cars, the Toyota Prius has a big boot and lots of useful storage space
Ageing technology, but the Toyota Prius is still among the most reliable on the market