The Toyota Prius was first introduced to the U.S. market for the 2001 model year. Its name is derived from the Latin term “to go before,” which is an apt moniker for this groundbreaking hybrid car.
2016 to Present: Toyota Prius
The fourth-generation Toyota Prius was released for the 2016 model year. As before, it is a five-door hatchback and is categorized as a midsize model with room for five.
The styling direction of the latest Prius complements the Toyota Mirai, which is a hydrogen-powered electric vehicle. The current Prius maintains the slippery profile of past models while bringing in sharper accents, deeper body sculpting and a more rakish silhouette.
All fourth-generation models are marked by sleek headlamp assemblies, a narrow upper grille and a large lower grille opening. From the sides, a sloping roofline, a rising beltline and deep sculpting along the rocker panels is evident. At the rear, the Prius’ liftgate is split by a rear spoiler. Dramatic combination lamps mimic the style of the headlamps.
The cabin features bucket seats up front and a split-folding rear seat. The Toyota Prius has digital instrumentation and a color display featuring hybrid information. All models come with keyless entry and push-button start, a USB port and automatic climate control. A rearview camera, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth and a touch-screen audio system are also included.
Every current-generation Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with two electric motors for a combined output of 121 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard.
The Toyota Prius can be cross shopped with midsize sedans such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Buyers might also consider the Toyota Camry Hybrid, as well as other Prius models like the compact Toyota Prius c and the wagonlike Toyota Prius v.
Earlier Toyota Prius Models
The first-generation Toyota Prius was introduced in 1997 and sold in its home market (Japan) initially. The roll out to the U.S. market commenced for the 2001 model year. Toyota sold the original Prius through 2003 and all first-generation models are sedans.
Upon its debut, the Toyota Prius was powered by a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a CVT. All models are equipped with an electric motor as part of the Prius’ hybrid propulsion system. This arrangement allows the Prius to run on gas, electric power or a combination of the two.
Toyota discontinued the Prius sedan and introduced a hatchback body style for the second-generation Prius, which was sold from 2004 to 2009. The second-generation model is also larger in size than the first-generation Prius, with better fuel economy and a wider array of available features. Options like navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity and proximity key with push-button start are commonly available on 2004-2009 models, while a rearview camera became available starting with the 2006 model year.
The third-generation Toyota Prius made its debut for 2010, offering numerous changes over the previous model. A new, 1.8-liter gasoline and two electric motors help the Prius make a combined 134 horsepower.
For the 2012 model year, the Toyota Prius received revised styling and new standard features, including a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity and a touch-screen audio system. In its final year before a full redesign, the 2015 Prius gained a standard rearview camera.