2018 Toyota Prius review with video

The basics:
Starting price: $27,650 + tax
As tested: $32,795 + tax
Average fuel economy over a week: 4.6 L/100 kms (52 US MPG)
Competition: Ford C-Max, Hyundai Ioniq, Toyota Camry hybrid, etc.

The Toyota Prius is one divisive car. Either people love them or hate them. And this fourth generation, which was released in the 2016 model year, is an odd-looking vehicle, no doubt. But you can’t argue with the numbers. The Prius was the first mass produced hybrid in the world, with 11 million of them sold world wide. And it’s widely considered one of the most reliable cars on the road with some of the cheapest upkeep costs out there. So can you get over the looks? Only you can answer that. But for a rock solid, super efficient daily driver, it really does need to be on your test drive list.

Pros:
– The best selling trim in Canada is the most basic choice and includes a solid array of standard features for a $27,650 car – alloy wheels, LED headlights, automatic climate control, a smart key with push button start, heated front seats, and a 6 inch infotainment system
– Also, standard starting in the 2017 model year, all Prius trims include the Toyota Safety Sense suite – lane keep assist functions, adaptive cruise and forward autonomous braking. That’s some good kit and helps give this car a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS
– No matter what trim, you’re getting the same guts in the Prius. When it was redesigned for 2016, it was the first car in the Toyota lineup to get built on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform – which makes it stiffer, safer, and gives it a lower centre of gravity with a surprisingly good feel in the corners
– Under the hood, a 1.8 litre 4-cylinder is paired up to a 60 kW electric engine for a total of 121 horsepower. That’s not much for what is a pretty big car. But while I was fully expecting it to be a dog under acceleration, it’s not as bad as I thought
– Neither is this continuously variable transmission – which so many people love to knock. In this case, it’s smooth and responsive
– A lack of neck-breaking acceleration is NOT the focus of this car, though. It’s fuel economy. And the Prius delivers. We averaged 4.6 L/100 kms over a week
– You need a pretty big battery pack to store all that regenerative power you’re building up in the hybrid system. And they’ve been getting flatter and smaller so the batteries are now stored under the second row seats – which gives you more trunk space
– I really like the optional SofTex seat surfaces. It’s a very convincing faux leather that’s much greener to make and is also incredibly tough for life with hard knocking kids
– And speaking of kids, the Prius is longer and wider in this latest generation so you’re going to find more leg room in the back. But while a rear facing carseat fits quite well with 28.5 inches measured from the back of the front passenger seat up to the glove box, a seemingly unnecessary chunk of shiny plastic on the dash did make it a hard shoehorn my knees in place with the seat forward enough for rear facing kiddos

Cons:
– This car definitely seems most at home in the city. For high speed highway driving, it does not have a lot of extra juice for passing or quick maneuvers. And it’s actually just slightly more fuel efficient in the urban environment, too
– The EV function in the Prius is not a very effective party trick. It basically lets you operate this car under strictly electric power for short distances – Toyota says that maxes out at 1.6 kms. But just think about putting your foot on the gas pedal and you’ll get booted out of EV mode. The engine needs to be warm. It can’t be too cold outside. The HVAC system needs to be kept down. And if the lights are on at night, it won’t work. It’s just too finicky to be really useful
– The Prius has a very annoying back-up alarm. It’s not for people outside but strictly for the driver to know you’re in reverse. Apparently, deep in the settings, there is a way to turn it off… something I would do immediately after buying this car
– But it’s also good a back-up camera comes standard because the split rear window makes rearward visibility pretty darn tricky
– The infotainment system doesn’t incorporate any modern smartphone integration. If you’re looking for Apple Carplay or Android Auto, you’re not going to find it here
– While the underpinnings of this car are among the most reliable, least expensive to maintain on the market today, its interior is kind of a mess. It has high gloss black and white plastics that looks really cheap. There are a lot of easy to scratch plastics elsewhere. It has a seriously haphazard and difficult to navigate instrument cluster that’s shifted over to the centre of the car. And the heated seat switches are in such a hard to reach spot, you practically have to be a circus contortionist to reach them. The interior of cars like the Honda Clarity and Hyundai Ioniq certainly run circles around the Prius
– Seat comfort is also kind of a miss. They’re fine for quick drives but are pretty soft and unsupportive for anything more than a couple of hours
– While second row leg room is good, the challenge that adults or tall teens will be head room. The sweeping roof line on the new Prius is great for drag coefficients… not so great for rear passenger comfort
– And the same goes for the trunk. While it is plenty big enough for our standardized trunk test (a stroller, backpack, soccer ball, diaper bags and two bags of groceries) – the roofline on the hatchback-style trunk is too low for putting taller items or the family dog back there

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3.5/5 (65 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 3/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5

Family Wheels overall score: 36.5/50= 73%

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