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

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

Best hybrid cars
Toyota Corolla Trek
Best cars
8 Jun 2021

Best hybrid cars

Toyota Prius hatchback review
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Toyota Prius
4 Jun 2021

Toyota Prius hatchback review

Most Popular

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?

Tesla Model Y SUV review
Tesla Model Y SUV front 3/4 tracking
Tesla Model Y SUV
30 Jul 2021

Tesla Model Y SUV review

Engine size explained
Aston Martin 6.0-litre V12 engine
Tips and advice
26 Jul 2021

Engine size explained

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
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

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
Best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

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
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks