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2017 Toyota Prius Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Toyota Prius was new.


Performance: 7.3

For drivers looking for an incredibly fuel-efficient daily driver, the 2017 Toyota Prius is a great match. Its fuel-sipping engine uses less gas than nearly every hybrid competitor, and its powertrain delivers good acceleration for city traffic. The Prius strikes a decent balance between composed cornering and comfortable cruising.

  • "Over a gentle drive of 22.5 mostly highway miles, we got a dashboard display of 67.3 mpg. But when you add in a similar stretch of more stop and go driving and some winding roads, our total for 48.8 miles was 57.3 mpg. That's a great number, even if the overall average amount of fuel you'll save over the course of a year with the fourth-gen Prius instead of a third-gen model is negligible." -- Autoblog (2016)
  • "The new Prius responds quicker, feels more composed and had less lean. The improvement is definite." -- Cars.com (2016)
  • "At any rate, the new car is worlds more enjoyable to drive, both around town and pushing on canyon roads, than the old one. There's a pulse here in this new Prius, a sense of life. The new Prius still may not be an outright performance car in a dynamic sense, but it's no longer the one-dimensional econobox that enthusiasts love to hate." -- Motor Trend (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The Prius' hybrid powertrain has a combined system output of 121 horsepower generated by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. A continuously variable transmission, which acts like an automatic, comes standard.

It's tough to match the Prius when it comes to fuel economy. The Prius gets 54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway, which easily surpasses the Honda Accord Hybrid (49/47 mpg city/highway) and the Chevy Malibu Hybrid (49/43 mpg). If you opt for the Prius Two Eco, which has been tweaked to further improve efficiency, you'll get 58/53 mpg city/highway.

Thanks to the instantaneous power delivered by its electric motor, the Prius can accelerate from a stop fairly quickly to let you dart through city traffic. When you reach higher speeds and the gasoline engine takes over, the Prius may feel a bit more strained. Still, it should be satisfactory for most drivers, just use extra care when overtaking slower vehicles or merging on the highway.

  • "The 2017 Prius sacrifices speed for mileage, so its sluggish acceleration is part of the package. With its excellent noise suppression and initial surge of electric acceleration, the Prius doesn't feel particularly slow around town. It mainly suffers during higher speed situations such as getting on a freeway or attempting to pass slower traffic." -- Edmunds
  • "When I drove like a normal human being - without hypermiling or constantly flooring it - the Prius picked up speed with the pace of traffic easily and remained quiet while going down the road. At city speeds, the Prius seamlessly switched between its internal combustion engine and electric motor, even keeping pace for long stretches of 45 mph or so driving under nothing but electrons. The new Prius is also pretty good on the freeway." -- Motor Trend(2016)
  • "When it comes to power, though, the results aren't as impressive. … It's not obnoxiously slow, but once the initial grunt wears off, the Prius' gas engine makes a steady drone but doesn't rocket forward." -- Cars.com (2016)

Handling and Braking

Hybrids are generally derided for having numb performance and no sense of fun behind the wheel. The Prius was redesigned for the 2016 model year, and Toyota greatly improved its driving dynamics. It handles well when driving twisty roads, staying level and composed through turns, but it's still primarily tuned for comfort when driving around the city. You can get a more comfortable ride, though, in hybrids that are based on sedans, like the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.

If you've driven a hybrid before, you're probably familiar with the grabby feeling you can get from the regenerative brakes that recharge the battery pack. The 2017 Prius' regenerative brakes, however, are much smoother and feel more like traditional brakes.

  • "One area in which the latest Prius is much improved over its predecessor is the ride quality. It feels more substantial on the road, so you get less noise, fewer jolts over bumps and a solid feel through the steering wheel. It's still not as refined as some other traditional sedans in the midsize class, but considering its level of fuel efficiency, it's not a bad trade-off." -- Edmunds
  • "Overall, the new car's dynamics are fully predictable, devoid of unpleasant quirks, with the bonus of supple ride quality." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "Cornering and tight, quick transitions are now possible without big body roll, and fun-to-drive becomes part of the equation." -- Autotrader (2016)

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