10 things you need to know about the Toyota Prius

A handy guide to owning this popular fuel-saver

Published: July 14, 2014 02:00 PM

Consumer Reports readers love the Toyota Prius, as evidenced by its high ranking year after year in our annual owner satisfaction survey. And it’s not just the stellar fuel economy that wows folks. The Prius is also relatively roomy inside, with a large backseat, ample cargo space under its hatchback, and it boasts abundant safety and convenience equipment. Clearly, there is more to this aerodynamic green machine than meets the eye.

That why we assembled this handy guide to the key things any buyer, or owner, should know about the Toyota Prius.

Visit the Toyota Prius model page for a complete road test, pricing, reliability, owner cost information, and more.  

1. It gets great fuel economy

Did you know the Prius gets the best fuel economy of any gasoline-powered car in our testing? An impressive 44 mpg overall, with 55 mpg on the highway. And, yes, we know you can do better.

2. It’s one of the least expensive cars to own

Not only does the Prius save at the pump, but overall, the sleek hybrid is among the most affordable cars to own. When factoring in depreciation, fuel cost, loan interest, insurance premiums, sales tax, and maintenance and repairs, the Prius adds up to an ultra-thrifty $0.47 a mile. Compare that number with the anti-Prius—the BMW 750Li—at $1.77 per mile, and you’ll see why the Prius “green” isn’t just about saving gas but also saving cash.

3. The odds are good that it will last a long time

Long-haul reliability is excellent, with many owners clocking in hundreds of thousands of miles. We have even retested previous-generation Priuses with about 200,000 miles on the clock and found their performance was very close to the numbers recorded on brand-new examples in our original tests.

4. You can do some basic maintenance yourself

Even though the Prius has lots of high-tech hardware, it is easier to work on than you’d think. We even reduced a dealer quote of $249 for a 30,000-mile check up to just $85. (Learn how to keep car maintenance costs down.) 

5. Even used, the Prius is top-rated

Can’t afford a new one? No sweat. The 2010-2012 Prius is one of the best used cars going.  

6. No flash in the pan, the Prius has been great for years

For 11 years in a row, this fuel sipper has ranked as CR’s “green” Top Pick

7. Want a 'sportier' Prius?

You read that right: Toyota sells a complete line of TRD accessories, such as larger wheels and springs and sway bars. You can also pimp a Prius to look friskier. 

8. Save your money on the Prius plug-in

We think you should skip the Plug-in version, since it only delivers about 12 miles of all-electric driving—even on a good day. Plus, it adds about $5,000 to the price of a standard Prius; Toyota has dropped the price by about $2,000 since its introduction. Buyers are eligible for a $2,500 federal tax credit, while it lasts, to offset some of that cost. Still, we wouldn’t bite.

9. Just because it says 'Prius' on the outside doesn’t mean it’s a winner

Yes, there is a Prius we don’t love: the Prius C, little brother of the standard Prius. Despite returning a very impressive 43 mpg overall in our tests, the C gets a D- grade for acceleration, ride, fit and finish, and marginal performance in the IIHS small-overlap crash-test.

10. Rabid Prius fans? You bet.

There are Prius forums where owners exchange technical information, maintenance tips, modifications—you name it. Forums such as priuschat.com can be a great source of hands-on insight and provide a sense of community. Consumer Reports has many resources to help you enjoy your Prius for years to come, including finding the best replacement tires, wiper blades, 12-volt batteries, and child safety seats. We can also help you to track reliability trends, compare service costs in your area, and check for recalls.

Mike Quincy

Find Ratings

Hybrids/EVs Ratings

View and compare all Hybrids/EVs ratings.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Cars News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more