2019 Toyota Prius

Performance


#7 out of 21 in Compact Cars

$23,770 MSRP
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2019 Toyota Prius Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.8

The 2019 Toyota Prius boasts a refined hybrid powertrain and a composed demeanor on the road. Its strengths include solid handling, outstanding fuel economy, and smooth transitions between its gas and electric power sources. As long as you aren't searching for an exhilarating driving experience, you won't be disappointed by this hybrid's performance.

  • On the road, you'd be hard-pressed to discern any difference between the standard Prius and the new AWD-e version. They both provide acceptable acceleration and handling capabilities. They're not thrilling to drive, nor do they need to be." -- Edmunds
  • What really shines … is the hybrid system's overall seamlessness – both when accelerating and braking. The transition from all-electric power when starting off to when the gas engine comes on is smooth, and brake-pedal feel is linear and predictable. That's not to say that the gas engine runs quietly; you do hear a lot of engine drone in the cabin when the 1.8-liter four-cylinder is running. There's also wind noise at highway speeds." -- Cars.com
  • There's no sense in pretending that an enthusiast will find the overall experience anything bu[t] antiseptic, but you've got to admit that the Prius is (and has always been) good at doing what it was designed to do: Getting you there and back, day after day, year after year, while consuming as little fuel as possible. In that respect, the AWD system doesn't shake anything up." -- Autoweek

Acceleration and Power

The Prius is not particularly peppy, but it will get you up to speed smoothly, and it has enough power to merge onto the highway without concern. Standard components of its 121-horsepower setup include a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and a lithium-ion battery.

As you drive, the Prius switches back and forth seamlessly between its gasoline engine and electric motors. It also has one of the highest fuel economy ratings in the class, with the base L Eco trim earning 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway. Upper-level front-wheel-drive trims earn a slightly lower 54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway.

Prius models that have all-wheel drive feature a nickel-metal hybrid battery, which is often recommended for colder climates. These still have a respectable fuel economy rating of 52 mpg city/48 mpg highway, which only adds about $50 a year in fuel costs for the average driver.

  • " … it's the usual Prius experience: an efficient, affordable way to comfortably get from point A to point B. It's not a quick car by any stretch of the imagination, and that's clearly not the point. Prius customers aren't looking for speed. They're looking for efficiency, and the AWD-e still has it." -- Autoblog
  • There's also a satisfying burst of power off the line, which makes the new Prius feel quicker than it is. Its zero-to-60-mph time of about 10 seconds isn't going to thrill, but there's more than enough power when you need it. And the fuel economy is exceptional, which is of course the point." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • Acceleration is adequate. A 9.8-second 0-60 mph time is near the bottom of the segment, though the Prius has enough zip off the line to feel lively around town." -- Edmunds (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Prius is available for the first time with all-wheel drive, making it one of the few compact cars with this option. Professional reviewers testing the system say it does a good job adding grip when conditions get dicey, but by no means does it turn the Prius into an off-road vehicle. With either drivetrain, the Prius is smooth and composed, but never very exciting to drive.

  • "With all-wheel drive, the car mostly felt the same as any other Prius. It wasn't adding any huge, tangible change in driving behavior. What it does is subtle and demonstrates itself as lack of the negatives you'd otherwise notice: slip, instability, hesitation, understeer. That adds up to confidence. And it's confidence you can appreciate without having to sacrifice much in fuel economy." -- Autoblog
  • With the extra weight of the rear motor and other componentry, AWD-e cars are about 150 pounds heavier and less nimble than their FWD stablemates in normal driving conditions. Steering feel remains nothing exceptional but both versions of the Prius drive well enough and feel secure and stable for a typical day-to-day duty cycle." -- Automobile Magazine
  • The Prius steers with a light touch, but steering feel is nonexistent. It's also surprisingly willing to take on fast corners; it feels planted and stable, lending it some unexpected sportiness." -- Cars.com
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