Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback (2009-2015)

"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."

Carbuyer Rating

3.2 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Low running costs
  • Very practical interior
  • Reliable hybrid engine

Cons

  • High price
  • Ride is quite firm
  • Noisy when accelerating hard

The Toyota Prius is a hybrid hatchback that aims to excel in fuel economy and emissions. Hybrid cars blend a conventional engine with an electric motor and are becoming increasingly popular, as buyers look to lower their running costs and be kinder the environment. The Prius was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car, and has kept its title as the best-selling one for many years. It’s a five-seater hatchback that as the capability of running on electric power alone for up to two miles. They’re mainly used as a supporting role for the car’s 1.8-litre petrol engine, as it helps to drive down CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy by taking some of the load. The Prius is so well known that when someone so much as mentions the word hybrid, they almost instantly associate it with the Toyota hatchback. A few competitors have since arrived, with the Prius facing off against the more luxurious Lexus CT and the sci-fi Vauxhall Ampera and hybrid models of the Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf.

If you really want to be green, there’s the Prius Plug-In Hybrid. It connects a lithium-ion battery that (when charged for around 2 hours) can allow the car to travel for up to 15 miles on electric power alone. The Plug-In model is distinguished by very slight design changes, but it’s otherwise identical. It’s more expensive to buy than the regular hybrid model but because it qualifies for the electric car grand of up to £5,000, it’s actually only around £3,000 more than a top-of-the-range hybrid. If you want to buy a Plug-In model, however, you’ll need to act fast, as the popularity of the electric car scheme means the funds are due to run out by the end of 2015.

Nevertheless, the Prius Plug-In will still be one of the UK’s most efficient cars, as it’s capable of up to 134.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. That rating makes it exempt from road tax as well as the London Congestion Charge. The Prius Hybrid can't match those figures, but it's still competitive against the most frugal diesels, with a best of 72.4 mpg for the basic T3 version and low, tax-free emissions.

Neither version of the Prius is very fun to drive. There’s little feel in the steering and the ride is firm too. However, there’s no body roll, it’s quiet in town and can sprint away from traffic lights just as quick as conventional cars. The interior feels a little low-rent but it’s roomy and practical inside.

The Prius Hybrid comes in three flavours: T3, T4 and T Spirit. All come with a CVT automatic gearbox (there's no manual option). T3 wants for very little: air-conditioning and even a rear-view camera and head-up display are standard. That should be enough for most buyers, while keeping the car's price on a par with the latest, fuel-efficient petrol and diesel rivals.

There's only one Prius Plug-In Hybrid but it, too, is well equipped, with sat nav, cruise control and an upmarket JBL stereo all standard. In addition to these models, there's a seven-seat Prius Hybrid called the Prius+.

The Prius achieved the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash tests and has a full complement of airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes. The T Spirit adds a system that applies the brakes automatically if it senses an imminent collision.

Recommended

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
1 Feb 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

Best hybrid cars
Best cars
29 Dec 2020

Best hybrid cars

Toyota Prius owner reviews
Toyota Prius
26 Jun 2020

Toyota Prius owner reviews

Toyota Prius hatchback review
Toyota Prius
26 Jun 2020

Toyota Prius hatchback review

Most Popular

Best 7-seater cars
Kia Sorento driving
7-seater cars
21 Apr 2021

Best 7-seater cars

2021 scrappage schemes: the complete guide
Scrappage schemes - Ford Focus
Tips and advice
20 Apr 2021

2021 scrappage schemes: the complete guide

New 2021 Skoda Fabia revealed
2021 Skoda Fabia
Skoda Fabia
4 May 2021

New 2021 Skoda Fabia revealed

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Tips and advice
10 Nov 2020

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?
Tips and Advice
23 Mar 2020

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Best cars
10 Mar 2020

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
1 Feb 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Hot hatches
9 Apr 2020

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks