2021 Toyota Prius

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2021 Toyota Prius Review: Riding Its Own Coat Tails

by Aiden Eksteen

If you're considering getting yourself an eco-friendly vehicle purely for virtue-signaling, then the 2021 Toyota Prius is a good one to go for. It's otherwise not a very cool-looking compact hatchback and there's a lot of disparaging cliches attached to its name. With just a 121-horsepower and 120-lb-ft hybridized powertrain, the Prius is also not the most exciting compact hatch to drive. It is, however, a very thrifty cruiser with plenty of passenger room and cargo space, which means it's an ideal urban runabout. Toyota presents the 2021 Prius hatch at a price of $24,525 - while fairly attractive for a hybrid, this doesn't really prop it up as anything special with newer and more capable 5-door hybrids coming in at similar prices in the US. There's the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid and Toyota's own Corolla Hybrid, both of which are better-looking cars, too. The Prius's time in the sun may be over unless Toyota gives it an extensive redesign to help align its performance and function with what the name once stood for.

Read in this review:

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2021 Toyota Prius Changes: ๐Ÿš™Whatโ€™s the difference vs 2020 Prius?

The 2021 Toyota Prius hatchback gains a few updates for the new model year, among which is the inclusion of pedestrian and cyclist detection as standard, as well as auto high beams. There's also a new 2020 Edition trim that celebrates 20 years of the Prius hatch and will be limited to 2,020 units. All but the top-tier Limited trim now feature Android Auto as standard.

Pros and Cons

  • Frugal fuel economy returns
  • Leading reliability expectations
  • Standard safety features galore
  • Abundance of cargo room
  • Feeble acceleration responses
  • Second-rate cabin look and feel
  • Disappointing infotainment setup

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2021 Toyota Prius Trims and Prices

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
L Eco
1.8L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
1.8L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
1.8L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
1.8L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
1.8L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive

Prius Exterior

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  • Length 180.0 in
  • Wheelbase 106.3 in
  • Height 57.9 in
  • Max Width 69.3 in
  • Front Width 60.2 in
  • Rear Width 60.6 in
  • Curb Weight 3,010.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Sea Glass Pearl
  • Electric Storm Blue
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Super White
  • Wind Chill Pearl
  • Classic Silver Metallic
  • Supersonic Red

Prius Performance

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Engine and Transmission

Toyota doesn't disclose any 0 to 60 mph times or top speeds for the Prius hatchback line, a clear sign that it's likely a very bland car when it comes to performance. A 71-hp single electric motor supplements the Prius' 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gas engine for a total output figure of 121 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque. Power is forwarded through a continuously variable automatic transmission to the rear-wheel drivetrain. All-wheel drive is available, too, courtesy of an additional 7 hp electric motor attached to the rear axle. The 2021Prius is a painfully slow hatch, with its acceleration responses remaining lethargic from off the line all the way through to attempting overtakes on the highway.

  • Engine
    1.8L Inline-4 Hybrid
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Prius Gas Mileage

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    11.3 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 58/53 mpg
* 2021 Toyota Prius L Eco Hatchback

Prius Interior

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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 42.3 in
  • Front Head Room 39.4 in
  • Rear Leg Room 33.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.4 in

Prius Trunk and Cargo Space

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Prius Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Hybrid/Electric Components:
    8 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: ๐ŸIs the 2021 Toyota Prius a good hatchback?

There's very little positive to say about the Toyota Prius with how many better-looking, more enjoyable, and far more capable hybrid vehicles there are these days. It's also fully succumbed to its stereotype of being a pretentious and monotonous car - notions held in its priggish demeanor and painfully mundane drive characteristics. Though it is very frugal, it's not the most proficient hybrid in the game anymore, with the far more suave and contemporary Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid easily beating its fuel economy returns. A spacious interior and expansive trunk are strong points, but the overall quality feels far too second-rate and the ergonomics of the interior are frustrating. The standard infotainment touchscreen is also really small. Of course, the Prius does benefit from Toyota's reputation for reliability, and the NHTSA's review of the 2021 Toyota Prius to review returned an excellent five-star safety rating. It even earned a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. The current Prius is six years into its life cycle, and that is when Toyota often redesigns its cars, so we may see a new and better model. It's otherwise a really difficult car to recommend.

๐Ÿš—What Toyota Prius Model Should I Buy?

The Toyota Prius in top-spec form is too expensive for what it returns in features and quality. However, in entry-spec form, it's just too poorly outfitted. Though the top-spec Limited does come with the 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen and JBL sound system, it doesn't get Android Auto while all the other models do. The AWD models should also be avoided as they're much less fuel-efficient than the RWD models. The XLE trim is perhaps the most attractive offer. It comes with remote illuminated entry, rain-sensing wipers, and 17-inch alloy wheels. On the inside, there's a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable front seats with heating, and SofTex faux leather cabin trim and upholstery that improves the cabin's look and feel. With no tonneau cover or AWD system, the XLE also retains its 27.4 cubic feet of trunk space.

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