Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback (2009-2015) - Engines, drive & performance

The Toyota Prius is easy to drive in town and quite quick for an eco-friendly model

Carbuyer Rating

3.2 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

2.2 out of 5

The Toyota Prius is far from the most entertaining car to drive – hybrids rarely are. There’s little body lean when cornering, but the Prius lacks real sensitivity through its steering.

It’s certainly more fun to drive than a Honda Insight, but the Lexus CT feels slightly sportier. The Prius’ suspension is also rather firm as the batteries for the electric motors weigh quite a lot. This means the Prius can feel a bit bumpy when driven over rough, potholed roads.

The Prius’ 1.8-litre Hybrid Synergy Drive pairs a 98bhp petrol engine with a 36bhp electric motor to deliver a combined output of 134bhp. What that actually means on the road is that it’s faster out of the blocks than equivalent conventionally powered cars, accelerating from 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds.

You can drive the Prius using only the electric motor silently for a couple of miles, but any genuine pressure on the accelerator will start the combustion engine. Hard acceleration is loud due to the CVT gearbox fitted – this transmission effectively has one gear, so the engine note can drone.

The Prius’ dashboard has a status screen that shows whether the car is running on electricity alone, petrol alone, or a combination of both power sources. It also shows how much charge is being delivered back to the batteries when you’re slowing down or braking. Paying attention to this screen is the secret to achieving decent fuel economy in day-to-day driving.

The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid gets around this for the first 15-or-so miles by travelling on electricity alone. A 90-minute charge will give you enough power to do this, but the maximum range is significantly affected by the prevailing weather conditions – the lower the temperature, the shorter the range.

Once the Plug-In has depleted its battery, it seamlessly switches to the petrol engine and drives in exactly the same manner as the standard car.

Recommended

Top 10 best hybrid cars 2022
Hyundai Tucson SUV review
Best cars
22 Feb 2022

Top 10 best hybrid cars 2022

Toyota Prius hatchback review (2016-2022)
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Toyota Prius
4 Jun 2021

Toyota Prius hatchback review (2016-2022)

Most Popular

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers
Honda CR-V deal
Deals
13 May 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers

It’s here: all-new Range Rover Sport unveiled
Sport 1
Range Rover Sport
10 May 2022

It’s here: all-new Range Rover Sport unveiled

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2022

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
25 Apr 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
3 Feb 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022