The 2018 Toyota Prius wins our minds with its fuel-efficiency and low running costs. Our hearts are a different story.
The 2018 Toyota Prius quietly marches on this year—literally and figuratively.
Not much has changed from last year, beyond a larger touchscreen in top-tier models and Prius Prime plug-in versions. The 2018 Prius is two years removed from a total overhaul and hitting its (fuel-efficient) stride.
Its trump card is fuel-efficiency—nearly every component on the car serves that master. It earns a 5.4 on our overall scale thanks to its superlative efficiency and safety. If 52 mpg combined, or better, in every model doesn’t look good to you, we’re not sure if what’s left on the Prius will either. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
We break down the Prius into two flavors: Prius Prime (which is the plug-in hybrid) and Prius “Plain”—our name, not theirs. The regular Prius is offered in Prius One, Prius Two, Prius Two Eco, Prius Three, and Prius Four trim levels, the latter two offering “Touring” options with a few more niceties. (The Prius Two Eco cuts weight for better fuel economy ratings.) The Prius Prime is offered in Plus, Premium, and Advanced trim levels.
The Prius Prime looks better to our eyes, if only because it smooths over the stilted edges from the Prius Plain. There are many angles and shapes in the Prius’s face, flanks, and fanny. It’s a jumble of lines wrapped around the iconic liftback shape that the Prius has largely cornered.
Inside, it’s similarly busy but thankfully upgraded from outgoing generations.
The performance follows the same logic as it always has: a frugal inline-4 teamed with batteries for maximum mileage. The total system output is only 121 horsepower, tasked with motivating more than 3,000 pounds of mass. Its transmission, steering, and braking prioritize efficiency—and we’re fine with that. The Prius doesn’t claim to be anything else.
Opt for the Prius Prime and its bigger plug-in batteries accommodate up to 25 miles of all-electric driving, far less than a Chevy Volt, but likely enough for urban commutes to work.
The interior is better this time around for honest-to-goodness seating for full-size adults and some modicum of comfort. The liftback affords more cargo capacity than normal sedans—more than 27 cubic feet in most examples.
The Prius Plain nominally seats five, although four will fit better. The Prius Prime doesn’t offer a rear-seat hump—it’s just four only.
Toyota’s standard suite of advanced safety features, which was added last year, complements an impressive crash-test score. Federal testers give the Prius a five-star overall rating, and the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick.
The numbers that really matter: 52 mpg combined in Prius Plain, 56 mpg combined in Prius Two Eco; 54 mpg combined in Prius Prime with a 25-mile EV-only range.
That speaks loud enough.