There’s an old saying: “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” This would apply to Toyota’s Prius, by far, the best-selling hybrid in America. It’s also one of the most recognizable cars on the road as everyone knows what it is when they see one.
What is the Prius’ unique selling proposition?
With it’s 50 mpg combined fuel-mileage, Toyota reliability and hatchback utility, it’s been and will continue to be, the go-to hybrid here in America. We recently test drove the 2015 Prius Five model with the Advanced Technology upgrades.
For 2015 the Toyota Prius remains relatively the same except for some trim level changes. A review camera is now standard across all trim levels.
Features & Options
The top of the line Prius Five ($30,005) gets unique 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, and LED headlights over the other four Prius models. Our Prius Five tester came equipped with an Advanced Technology Package ($4,320), which adds adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision alert system, a lane-departure warning system, Safety Connect, a heads-up display, and a higher-quality navigation display.
Total MSRP including destination: $35,150.
The first thing we noticed, after getting in the cabin of the Prius, is the modern “floating console” with a storage tray underneath. Unique interior styling sets the Prius apart from the competition. Some may not like the console setup, but it hasn’t hurt sales in the least.
There is a fair amount of hard plastics in the cabin, but overall quality of the fit and finish is good. This can be a great thing for a family that needs to clean up after kids who have put their dirty hands all over the inside.
Where the Prius shines is in the area of utility. Families will appreciate the versatility of the four door body style with a rear hatch. The hatchback is useful for loading cargo and weekend sports equipment, while the backseat offers plenty of room for a growing family. We still have an issue with visibility in the rear, however, with the annoying bar that runs across the rear hatch window.
Engine & Fuel Mileage
The 2015 Toyota Prius is powered by a hybrid drive system that uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, coupled with a pair of electric motor/generators.
Together they send a total output of 134 horsepower to the front wheels through a fuel-saving continuously variable transmission (CVT). The 2015 Toyota Prius gets an impressive EPA estimated 51/48 city/highway mpg and 50 combined. Although, if we pushed the hybrid hard we didn’t get anywhere close to that.
Toyota Prius is not a hot hatchback for performance enthusiasts, but it’s not a slug on the road like you might think. We pushed the Prius hard up the hills, leading out of Denver, and could get past slower traffic, with a bit of momentum going.
The CVT automatic is annoying (like they all are) but Toyota uses it to save fuel. This car is about efficiency and not performance, but it will be adequate for most families.
Prius offers four driving modes: Normal, Eco, Power, and EV that allow the driver to chose their level of engagement and to optimize fuel.
Eco feels like you have a lead sled behind the car, but gets the best fuel-economy. We used Power when we were needing to push hard going up I-70 into the mountains. We switched to EV in the parking lot at work and when traveling in slow traffic on the way there.
This mode uses electric power only and allows a maximum speed of 25 mph. It requires at least a half-charged battery pack. Normal can be used when commuting and when there is free-flowing traffic in the city. Ride quality is comfortable and will handle average bumps well. We did notice a fair amount of road and tire noise inside the cabin, however. As Toyota does everything possible to keep the hybrid light to save fuel, we believe the road noise issue was overlooked.
The Prius is low on the driver engagement scale and even lower on the fun-to-drive meter, but that’s coming from performance car enthusiast and journalist.
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Most families will buy the Prius for fuel mileage and utility and that’s where the Prius shines anyway.