Toyota Prius hatchback - Interior & comfort
The interior of the new Toyota Prius is smart, high-quality and comfortable
If fuel economy is the Prius’s primary appeal, its relaxing, quiet nature comes a close second. At low urban speeds, where some journeys might be made with minimal use of the petrol engine, there’s hardly any noise. The engine is unobtrusive when it comes to life and quickly fades to a background hum at cruising speeds. The plug-in does have a slightly more harsh ride than the regular Prius – a consequence of the additional battery weight.
There’s plenty of space inside – although the plug-in only has rear seats for two. Equipment is also generous, but although the Toyota Prius has some tactile, soft-touch plastics, it's still no match for the likes of the VW Golf GTE inside.
Toyota Prius dashboard
The regular and plug-in hybrid versions of the Prius are largely the same inside. The latter has a few additional controls for its various operating modes, along with extra graphics on the control screen. The seven-inch (eight-inch in the plug-in) screen is generally clear and easy to read, while the facelift has made the system more responsive and added a pinch and swipe interface similar to that of a smartphone. Rather strangely, the controls for the heated seats are hidden behind the central fascia, but other than that the layout is intuitive.
There are four trim levels available: Active, Business Edition, Business Edition Plus, Business Edition Plus AWD and range-topping Excel. The plug-in comes as a Business Edition Plus or Excel.
The Prius Active comes with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, LED headlights, keyless go, dual-zone climate control, 15-inch alloy wheels and the seven-inch Touch 2 touchscreen infotainment system with DAB digital radio. This now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which were missing for a long time, giving smartphone connectivity a significant boost.
Business Edition trim costs roughly £900 extra and adds automatic wipers, wireless phone charging, heated front seats, a head-up display that beams information onto the windscreen and a blind-spot monitoring system. Business Edition Plus trim is a further £1,800 and includes larger 17-inch alloy wheels (although smaller wheels are optional, should you want to improve fuel consumption and CO2 emissions), all-round parking sensors and a self-parking system. It's also fitted with an upgraded 10-speaker JBL sound system. This is our preferred trim level.
You’re able to customise the interior of the latest Prius with colour-coding options, such as gloss-white highlights for certain panels. Other than that, plus a range of metallic colours, there's little scope for personalisation with the new Prius.
The Business Edition Plus plug-in model used to have the option of a roof-mounted solar panel that was claimed to offer up to three miles of extra battery range a day but it's no longer available. Interestingly, it was never available on the better-equipped Excel, as its additional weight would have exceeded Toyota’s target figures for the Prius.
The Toyota Prius is a thoroughly modern car underneath, but its Touch 2 infotainment system can be fiddly to operate. The on-screen menu icons are often small and surrounded by lots of blank space, making them hard to press, particularly when driving. Inputting addresses into the sat nav is similarly difficult and although the buttons on the dashboard are touch-sensitive, they need a firm prod to work properly. Recent improvements have made it more intuitive, but it still lags behind the system used in the new Toyota Corolla hybrid. You can at least now use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay instead, if you prefer. These are mainly voice activated, often making them easier to control.
There’s better news when it comes to some of the other technology on offer. The lane-departure warning system gives clear prompts if it senses you’re straying into another lane, while the optional self-parking system quickly scanned, found and manoeuvred into a suitable parking space. If you want it to exit a parking space for you, though, selecting this function is an involved process.