Want a true original? Then consider the Toyota Prius - the original hybrid. It was around long before hybrids went mainstream and has paved the way for the dozens of hybrid cars on sale today. People will look back at this vehicle as a true game changer. As well as full hybrid versions (which don't need to be plugged in for a recharge), the Prius is also available as a plug-in hybrid.
The futuristic styling of the Toyota Prius tends to generate a love/hate reaction. Its design is more about aerodynamic efficiency than attracting envious looks.
The current model - which went on sale in 2016 - has sharper styling than the Prius it replaced. To some eyes, it's a sharp and bold design, to others it's a bit too fussy and ungainly. Prius owners tend to be a sensible, pragmatic bunch, though, so unusual looks don't usually put them off.
The previous model's styling is more simple, but a bit bland compared with the 2016 Toyota Prius.
The futuristic styling of the Toyota Prius tends to generate a love/hate reaction.
What’s it like to drive?
The Prius works brilliantly around town. Light controls and the smooth automatic gearbox make it easy to drive and lots of stopping and starting helps keep the batteries topped up for excellent fuel economy.
Leave the urban sprawl behind and you'll find the 2016 Prius is much more capable than earlier models. There's enough punch for decisive overtaking when the 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor are both hard at work.
Go easy on the throttle and the Prius is a relaxed and comfortable cruiser, as happy on the motorway as it is on urban roads.
The Prius works brilliantly around town.
Climb inside the Prius to discover a futuristic interior. Instead of conventional dials right in front of you, there's a digital display on top of the dash and off to the left of the driver. Below this display is an infotainment screen. Every Prius - from the basic Active to the top-spec Excel - has Bluetooth and a digital radio. Most have a 6-speaker stereo, while the top-spec Excel has an uprated 10-speaker JBL system.
All versions, except Active spec, have a head-up display that projects info, like the car's speed, directly into your line of sight. All very clever! What's not so smart is the standard of finish. While the cabin is built to last, there are lots of hard and cheap-looking plastics.
There's plenty of room in the front, and enough adjustment to the seat and steering wheel for drivers of most shapes and sizes to get comfortable.
Rear legroom is generous and the flat floor means there's lots of space for everyone's feet when travelling with 3 in the back. The only real black mark is the way the sloping roof steals headroom. Just hope beehive hairdos never make a comeback.
The Prius has a big boot with enough room to cope with holiday luggage for a family. There's slightly more space if you go for a Prius with a puncture repair kit rather than a temporary spare wheel.
Every Prius has 60/40 split-folding rear seats, so you can lower the whole bench or just part of it if you need more luggage space.
Big door bins in the front of the car are shaped to hold a large bottle of water, and there's a useful cubbyhole under the armrest. Hot drinks are taken care of by a couple of cupholders in the front and two more in the folding rear armrest.
Running costs and reliability
When you take a taxi, there's a good chance it will be a Toyota Prius. There are good reasons for that – the Prius is extremely reliable and cheap to run.
The 2016 and on Prius achieves around 60-68mpg on the combined cycle. It's been tested to the latest WLTP standard, which gives much more reliable results than the old test method, so those economy figures should be pretty accurate.
Insurance premiums are usually very affordable, with most Prius models in group 13 or 14 depending on the specification.
What we love
If you enjoy clever tech and want a car with a low environmental footprint, the Prius could be just right for you.It offers excellent economy and wafts along in near silence at low speeds, making it a great car for town driving.
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The Toyota Prius comes close to a five-star verdict. The dated infotainment and drab finish lose it a mark. In other respects, though, the Prius is an easy car to recommend. The combination of petrol and electric power delivers solid performance and fuel economy. It's also reassuring to remember that Toyota has been making hybrids longer than just about anyone else.
This review was