It’s getting easier to get over 50 mpg these days. One good choice for those looking for a fuel-efficient city run-about is the Toyota Prius. It’s not a new choice exactly for urban dwellers, but it’s still the best-selling hybrid in America.
There’s good reason for its popularity. Prius delivers some of the best mileage of any car on the road, along with the utility of a hatchback, a comfortable interior, and a quiet ride.
This week we test drove the 2017 Toyota Prius Four Touring model.
What’s New For 2017
The Toyota Prius, re-designed in 2016, remains relatively unchanged for 2017. It features an updated exterior design, a more accommodating cabin, and improved ride quality. The formerly optional Safety Sense advanced driver aid package is now standard on all Prius trims.
Features & Options
The 2017 Toyota Prius Four Touring ($30,015) comes with a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic wipers, heated front seats, a power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar, seatback storage pockets, and a rear cargo cover. Standard equipment on the Four Touring includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, LED clearance lights, unique rear bumper styling, and imitation-leather upholstery with contrasting blue stitching.
The Premium Convenience package ($1,705) includes a 10-speaker JBL audio system, a self-parking system, and Safety Connect emergency services.
Total MSRP of our tester was $34,151, including destination.
The Prius Four Touring cabin looks updated and contemporary with higher-quality materials. In the center of the dash sits the speedometer and gauges that everyone in the cabin can see. There’s also a convenient smart phone charger just ahead of the center console.
It still comes with a strange, stubby gear shifter for selecting reverse, drive, and neutral, plus it has an annoying back-up buzzer that sounds like a UPS delivery truck. There is also the center divider in the rear window that makes it difficult to see out the back which we don’t particularly like.
Still, the cabin is comfortable and our tester came with an attractive black and white color scheme throughout the interior. Overall, the cabin is a comfortable place for those long commutes and for sitting in city traffic jams. The premium JBL audio has good sound and makes the drive to work go by quickly. We liked the easy-to-reach 7-inch touchscreen that responds quickly to commands, and the controls are all easy to use.
Where the Prius shines is in its cargo and utility flexibility. Cargo space measures 24.6 cubic feet – that’s a full three cubes more than the previous generation Prius. But our Prius Four tester offered up even more cargo space – 27.4 cubic feet – because the lack of a spare tire allows for a lower load floor.
We were able to load some large Christmas gifts for the family and had plenty of room to spare.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2017 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors/generators. The combined hybrid powertrain creates 121 horsepower, with power to the front wheels by way of an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT).
I took my dad to the doctor this week and he asked a great question. “How do you recharge the battery?”
I told him when you push on the brake pedal, it transforms that kinetic energy into keeping the battery full. He was also impressed the Prius gets an EPA estimated 54/50 city/highway and 52 combined mpg.
You don’t buy the Toyota Prius for its driving dynamics, but it isn’t a slug on the road either. Aside from the annoying drone of the continuously variable transmission winding up under power, the Prius is actually fun-to-drive with its surge of electric acceleration. We were able to zip around the city streets of Denver without issue because of its size.
The 2017 Toyota Prius does sacrifice speed for mileage and its not a sports hatch. It doesn’t offer the greatest acceleration getting up to highway speed, but it shines in getting excellent fuel mileage. It’s why you will buy it right? The cabin is quiet and smooth, and the improved ride quality on the open highway will be a benefit if you do commute long distances.
We were able to pass slower traffic up in the high country as we headed up I-70 into the mountains west of Denver. It didn’t leave us in a lurch if we had to slow down on a hill. In the tight corners, the Prius Four didn’t lean over too much and the city-hauler hugged the curves fairly well.
You will be attracted to the Prius for its fuel efficiency most likely, but the improved ride quality, quiet cabin, cargo-carrying ability, and comfortable interior will keep you happy with your purchase.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
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2017 Toyota Prius Gallery
2017 Toyota Prius Official Site
Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.