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2021 Toyota Prius Review

The 2021 Toyota Prius places in the lower half of our hybrid and electric car rankings. It boasts a spacious cabin and outstanding gas mileage, but its performance takes a hit because of a lethargic powertrain.

Pros & Cons

  • Fantastic fuel economy
  • Lengthy standard features list
  • Adult-friendly seating
  • Expansive cargo area
  • Not as athletic as some rivals
  • Underpowered engine
  • So-so interior quality

New for 2021

  • 2020 Edition trim introduced
  • Android Auto now standard
  • Bicyclist detection and road-sign recognition newly standard




Critics' Rating: 7.9
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 7.0
Safety: 9.5
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Toyota Prius a Good Car?

Yes, the 2021 Prius is a good car. This Toyota delivers a smooth ride, and it's one of the most efficient hybrids on the market. The Prius provides comfortable seating and more cargo space than nearly every one of its competitors. It also comes standard with a wealth of infotainment tech and active safety features. However, some hybrid and electric car rivals are more fun to drive and offer higher-quality interior materials.

Why You Can Trust Us: 42 Reviews Analyzed

To give you a complete overview of the 2021 Prius – and make your car-shopping experience easier – we analyzed 42 Toyota Prius reviews alongside performance specs, interior dimensions, and more.

This 2021 Prius review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2016.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Toyota Prius?

The Prius meets the expectation most hybrid shoppers have for fuel efficiency, but there are several other vehicles you should also consider. The Toyota Camry Hybrid features a peppier powertrain, and the Hyundai Ioniq comes in three eco-friendly variations: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric.

Find a 2021 Toyota Prius for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Toyota Prius: What's the Difference?

For 2021, Toyota introduces a limited run 2020 Edition to celebrate 20 years of the Prius. The 2021 Prius also adds standard bicyclist detection, road-sign recognition, and Android Auto capability. Otherwise, the 2020 and 2021 models are nearly identical.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Prius »

Here are the key changes for the Toyota Prius over the last few years:

  • 2017: Safety Sense driver assistance features became standard
  • 2018: optional 11.6-inch touch screen introduced
  • 2019: gained available all-wheel drive; exterior styling refreshed; trim levels renamed
  • 2020: Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and a 7-inch touch screen added to standard features list
  • 2021: gains Android Auto and some standard active safety features; new trim debuts

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Prius, 2019 Prius, and 2020 Prius reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Toyota Prius Cost?

The 2020 Toyota Prius has a starting price of $24,525, which is low for the hybrid and electric car class. A new special anniversary 2020 Edition trim is available for $29,875, and the top-of-the-line Limited trim starts at $32,650.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

Toyota Prius Versus the Competition

Toyota Prius vs. Toyota Camry Hybrid

The Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Toyota Prius both have great fuel economy figures, and each comes with a wealth of standard safety and infotainment technology. However, the Prius’ hatchback design gives it more passenger and cargo room than its sibling, and it's about $3,900 cheaper. Also, the Prius is available with all-wheel drive, while the Camry Hybrid is not. Still, the Camry comes out ahead thanks to its additional horsepower, more engaging ride, nicer cabin, and higher predicted reliability rating.

Compare the Prius and Camry Hybrid »

Toyota Prius vs. Hyundai Ioniq

The Hyundai Ioniq is available as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and an electric model, and each of these configurations is more fuel-efficient than the Prius. The Hyundai also has a longer warranty than the Toyota. However, the Prius has more comfortable, adult-friendly seating in both rows, a lengthier list of standard active safety features, and available all-wheel drive (unavailable in the Ioniq). For better efficiency, go for the Ioniq. Those in need of additional passenger space should stick with the Prius.

Compare the Prius and Ioniq »

Compare the Prius, Camry Hybrid, and Ioniq »

Prius Interior: Roomy Interior, Subpar Cabin Quality

Prius Cargo Space

The Prius hatchback has one of the largest cargo capacities in the hybrid and electric car class. There's 27.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats (24.6 cubic feet in LE trims and models with all-wheel drive) and 50.7 cubic feet with the back seats folded down.

How Many People Does the Prius Seat?

The Prius seats up to five people. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and there's ample space for adults. Even tall folks should have enough headroom in both rows. This Toyota also offers the driver great all-around visibility.

Prius and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The rear middle seat has the capability to borrow lower anchors from the adjoining outboard seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the highest rating of Good+ for its ease of use. The "+" indicates that the system is among the easiest to use.

Prius Interior Quality

The Prius' cabin has an attractive design and features mainly quality materials. With some notable plastic surfaces throughout the cabin, however, interior materials aren't as high-quality as you'll find in some other Toyotas, like the Camry Hybrid.

Prius Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The standard infotainment system features a sizeable touch screen and standard smartphone integration technology, now including Android Auto. On the downside, reviewers note the lack of physical buttons on the control panel, and sunlight can create a glare on the larger available touch screen.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, three USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Available infotainment features: an 11.6-inch touch screen, navigation, a 10-speaker JBL premium audio system, satellite radio, and HD Radio
  • Additional standard features: push-button start and automatic climate control
  • Other available features: a moonroof

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Prius Performance: Great Fuel Economy, So-So Power

Prius Engine

This Toyota's powertrain consists of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to make 121 horsepower. The Prius has enough power for most driving situations, and the transition from electric power to gas is seamless. That said, several competitors have more horsepower and quicker acceleration. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is also standard.

Prius Gas Mileage

The base Prius L Eco is estimated to get 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway. These figures are outstanding for the hybrid and electric car class. All other trims with front-wheel drive have estimates of 54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway, while the all-wheel-drive LE and XLE trims are estimated at 51/47 mpg city/highway.

Prius Ride and Handling

This hybrid is less engaging to drive than some competitors, but its composed ride will likely appeal to most shoppers. The Prius comes with three driving modes: EV, Eco, and Power. Reviewers recommend the Eco mode, saying it's both quiet and efficient. Power mode improves acceleration a bit, but it causes the engine to groan.

Read more about performance »

Prius Reliability

Is the Toyota Prius Reliable?

The 2021 Prius has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Toyota Prius Warranty

The 2021 Prius is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty for most hybrid components. The battery has a 10-year/150,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Prius Safety

Prius Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2021 Toyota Prius the highest rating of Good in five crash tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test. The IIHS also gave the Prius an Acceptable rating for how well its headlights illuminate the road.

The IIHS uses a different scale for grading collision avoidance features. The Prius earned the highest rating of Superior for its standard front crash prevention systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not given the 2021 Prius an overall safety rating, though it did give the car four out of five stars in the rollover test.

Prius Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Pedestrian and bicyclist detection
  • Road-sign recognition

Available advanced safety features:

  • Active park assist
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Head-up display

Read more about safety »

Prius Dimensions and Weight

The Prius is 15 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,010 to 3,220 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Toyota Prius Built?

Toyota builds the 2021 Prius in Japan.

Which Toyota Prius Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Toyota Prius comes in five trims: L Eco, LE, XLE, 2020 Edition, and Limited. The base L Eco trim is suitable for most shoppers. As its name suggests, it delivers the best fuel economy of the bunch. It also comes with a nice mix of standard safety and infotainment features such as adaptive cruise control and Apple CarPlay.

If you're looking for blind spot monitoring or rear cross traffic alert, step up to the LE trim. Consider the XLE for more comfort-oriented features like synthetic leather upholstery and heated front seats. The top-of-the-line Limited trim adds tech like navigation and satellite radio. The new special anniversary 2020 Edition is limited to just 2,020 models and adds styling enhancements like black painted wheels, as well as two exclusive colors: wind chill pearl and supersonic red.

All trims come standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available.

Toyota Prius L Eco

The base L Eco trim starts at $24,525. It comes with an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, three USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Other standard features include cloth upholstery, push-button start, and automatic climate control. A rearview camera and the Toyota Safety Sense P suite (adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, pedestrian and bicyclist detection, and road-sign recognition) are also standard.

Toyota Prius LE

The LE trim (MSRP: $25,735) adds front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and active park assist. All-wheel drive is an additional $1,400.

Toyota Prius XLE

The XLE trim has a starting price of $28,575 for front-wheel-drive models and $29,875 for all-wheel-drive variants. It gains synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a heated steering wheel, and wireless device charging.

Toyota Prius 2020 Edition

The 2020 Edition (MSRP: $29,875) is based off of the XLE and features unique exterior styling and paint colors. Only 2,020 of these special anniversary trims are available.

Toyota Prius Limited

The Limited trim starts at $32,650. It gains a head-up display, an 11.6-inch touch screen, navigation, a 10-speaker JBL premium audio system, satellite radio, and HD Radio. This trim does not include Android Auto.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

See 2021 Toyota Prius specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Toyota Prius stands out as one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the hybrid and electric car class. It also has a roomy, comfortable cabin and lots of standard features. If you're looking for quicker acceleration or a more premium cabin, however, consider classmates like the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "For two decades the Toyota Prius has been synonymous with the word 'hybrid.' Twenty years later, the 2021 Toyota Prius remains the smart choice for those seeking fuel economy of around 50 mpg along with hatchback practicality, the latest safety and tech features, and the bulletproof reliability and high resale values long associated with Toyota. Throw in a starting price under $25,000, and it’s easy to see why the Toyota Prius remains the best-selling hybrid in its class." -- Autotrader
  • "Unless your idea of a fun time behind the wheel is seeing how little fuel you can use on your commute, don't count on the Prius to offer much in the way of driving pleasure. However, the Prius' spacious cabin and excellent fuel economy do keep it solidly competitive – and it's the only one of its direct rivals to offer optional all-wheel drive." -- Car and Drive
  • "While the writing might be on the wall for non-SUVs, at least for now, Toyota isn’t backing down. There are plenty of people who will move up to a RAV4 Hybrid if they want. But some buyers want versatility and practicality without having to buy a crossover. Those buyers will definitely appreciate the addition of all-wheel drive to the Prius’ lineup, because it only sweetens the deal on a car that’s already pretty darn good." -- CNET (2019)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: January 15, 2021

Falling Sales: Following a year of weak demand in 2019, Prius sales plummeted further in 2020. Dealerships moved 37.6 percent fewer Prius models last year relative to 2019. Despite slowing demand, the Prius managed to maintain its long held position of best-selling hybrid and electric car.

Research more buying advice »
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2021 Toyota Prius

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