The 2014 Toyota Prius is one of the best hybrid hatchbacks on the market, offering excellent fuel economy and fantastic safety features. In spite of these perks, the Prius may disappoint many drivers with its low power output, cheap-looking cabin and unremarkable body. Those looking for a reliable hatchback should stick to gasoline-powered cars for the time being.
The 2014 Toyota Prius is one of the most recognized hybrid cars currently on the market, offering excellent fuel economy and relatively high safety standards. However, this car is a disappointment in every other way since its power output is minimal, while its appearance is anything but stylish. So, if fuel efficiency is your goal number one, then you’ll find it here – since it’s still miles better than the competition, which includes the Honda Civic Hybrid and Mazda3.
The five-door hatchback manages to be both aerodynamic and functional. The roof is “triangular” shape as it curves rearward at the apex, giving the car an almost sporty appearance and increasing headroom inside. Most models come with 15-inch wheels, but there’s also the option of adding 17-inch wheels in the Prius Five. The Plug-in model features a slightly different grille, wheels, lights and door handles from the rest of them, and comes with a port for the power cable on the right side and gas cap on the other. In short, Prius is not an ugly car, but it won’t turn heads either. It’s just average.
On the inside, thing seem just as uninspired as on the outside, if not more so. The design is modern and appealing, but there’s nothing particularly “mind-blowing” about it. The dash is particularly decent, thanks to its two-tone panels. However, upon closer inspection you’ll begin to notice just how cheap and dull the whole thing appears to be, especially on lower trims, with their gray, low-quality plastics and fabrics. There are some nifty features though. For instance, the steering wheel comes with a wheel-like control for the Touch Tracer Display, which regulates your fuel usage and controls hybrid-operation displays on the car’s LCD screen.
Under the hood of the 2014 Prius lies a double-edged sword – the car’s fuel efficient yet unproductive 1.8-litre four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine, connected to a 60-kilowatt electric motor. Both function in collusion with a continuously variable transmission and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The total horsepower output is 134, but that isn’t saying much. It takes 10 seconds for this vehicle to accelerate to the 100-kilometre mark – and that involves straining it. That said, the car runs on electricity alone, offering excellent fuel economy. Its EPA ratings are 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway. Whether this engine is worth your money will be determined by how much you value decent power and acceleration. If amazing gas mileage is your ultimate pursuit, then there’s no engine that’s better than this one. Otherwise, we recommend steering clear of this one.
Despite its many flaws, the new Toyota Prius deliver surprisingly good safety features. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded it with the overall rating of five stars, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named it its Top Safety Pick+. It has also received an “Acceptable” rating in the tough IIHS small overlap test. Some of the features include seven airbags, standard stability and traction control, tire-pressure monitoring system and anti-lock brakes.
All-in-all, the 2014 Toyota Prius has high aspirations, but it’s unlikely to satisfy many drivers. If you’re looking specifically for a hybrid car, then we’d argue that there’s no better option out there for the same price. Honda Civic Hybrid and Ford Fiesta are close, but the Prius is still better. However, if you’re looking for reliance and power, then stay as far away from this one as you can.
|Trim / Style||MSRP||Est. Monthly Payment||Average Price||Invoice Price|
|CVT||$26,105||Get Local Price||Get Invoice Price|
|Moonroof Upgrade Package CVT||$29,350||Get Local Price||Get Invoice Price|
|Technology Package CVT||$34,190||Get Local Price||Get Invoice Price|
|Touring Package CVT||$31,090||Get Local Price||Get Invoice Price|
|Number of Doors||5|
|Drive Train||Front Wheel Drive|
|Power and Performance:|
The most important performance statistic for the 2014 Toyota Prius is its gas mileage. The EPA rates this year's Prius Liftback at 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway--giving a combined rating of the magic 50 mpg number. Just as important, the Prius will likely deliver on that rating--or within a 10-percent margin--for most drivers.
The Prius powertrain is made up of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine tuned for peak efficiency and supplemented by a pair of electric motor-generators. There's also the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack under the rear load deck. The motors can add torque to supplement the engine power, run the car solely on electricity under light loads at low speeds, and recharge the battery during regenerative braking--thereby recapturing otherwise wasted energy and recycling it to move the car when needed.
Running the car can drop gas mileage into the high 30s from the mid or upper 40s, but there's another disincentive too: Noise and vibration from the engine are well suppressed under most circumstances, but if the driver demands maximum power, the engine will howl plaintively as it runs up to the top of its speed range and stays there.
The Prius electric power steering is lifeless, limp, and betrays no sign of road feel--just like most other Toyota products--though it works fine. The low-rolling-resistance tires squeal on anything but gentle cornering, but roadholding remains decent even if the car discourages hard cornering. When the four-wheel disc brakes take over from the regenerative braking, they work fine, and Toyota's blending of friction and regenerative braking is second to none in the field.
Toyota quotes acceleration of just under 10 seconds from 0 to 60 mph, but the car is the antithesis of performance driving in almost every way. Indeed, the electronic control of virtually every aspect of the Prius mechanical operations leads drivers to focus on boosting fuel economy numbers rather than beating others away from the stop light. In pursuit of efficiency, Toyota also provides both a lower-powered "Eco" mode--which is even less fun than the regular mode--and an "EV" mode that directs the Prius to run only on energy from the battery pack until its 1 mile or so of low-speed electric range is depleted.
Read more on The Car Connection.
|Interiors and Special Features:|
The 2014 Toyota Prius features straightforward controls that jut out toward the driver in a "floating console" that provides a storage tray underneath. It's stylish and also helps maximize cabin space. The digital instrument panel features a floating layer that displays audio, temperature and trip computer information when the driver touches those controls on the steering wheel, minimizing eye movement. Some drivers might find the overall design a bit too busy-looking, however.
The standard touchscreen operates many of the Prius' high-tech features and is, for the most part, smartly designed. The Entune system in the Prius Three and above can be a hassle, though, since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account; plus, you always need an active data connection to use Entune.
Materials quality in the Prius is also disappointing, with harder and cheaper plastics than other cars in its price range. The corduroy-like texturing on the climate and audio controls seems nice at first, but collects oil from the skin and causes circular dark spots on most buttons.
However, the Prius remains highly versatile. The hatchback body style provides considerably more cargo capacity than a typical midsize sedan, and the backseat offers plenty of space for passengers. Sadly, taller drivers still have to contend with a steering wheel that's placed too far away. Even though there's a telescoping column, it doesn't come out nearly far enough to enable a comfortable driving position.
Originally appeared on Edmunds.
The Toyota Prius features six airbags, antilock brakes, and electronic stability control, and holds the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award for excellent performance in front, side, rear and roof impacts.
Originally appeared on Vroom Girls.
Updated on March 26, 2013
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