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2015 Toyota Prius: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader November 2014

The 2015 Toyota Prius enters the latest model year perched firmly on top of the hybrid car sales charts. It's an impressive feat for the teardrop-shaped hybrid, especially after more than a decade on the market -- and after several years in its current form.

So what's the secret behind the Prius? Well, it never hurts to have a fuel economy rating of 50 miles per gallon, which ties the Prius for number one with its smaller sibling, the Prius c. Notably, the regular Prius actually outdoes the Prius c in urban driving (48 mpg to 46 mpg) thanks to a more powerful hybrid system that doesn't have to work as hard at low speeds.

But what really sets the Prius apart is its well-rounded nature. Effectively a midsize car on the inside, the Prius can accommodate four adults and their luggage with ease. It can also haul large items home from the hardware store with the rear seatbacks folded down. Nonetheless, it's still compact enough on the outside to squeeze into tight spots. So even before you take its excellent fuel economy into account, the Prius is an unusually useful vehicle.

What's more, it's a pretty affordable car, starting around $25,000 with a healthy roster of standard comfort and tech features. Small wonder, then, that the face of Toyota's hybrid franchise continues to be the hottest ticket in town.

What's New for 2015?

The Prius receives only two minor changes for 2015. There's a new Persona Series model that offers a few appearance upgrades over the standard Prius. In addition, a backup camera is now standard on all models.

What We Like

Phenomenal fuel economy; handy hatchback design; adult-sized back seat; impressive standard equipment

What We Don't

Weak acceleration; bland driving experience; starting to feel a little outdated

How Much?

$25,000-$30,800

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter gasoline 4-cylinder and an electric motor backed by a battery pack, which combine for 134 horsepower. Although acceleration is mediocre, fuel economy is outstanding: the EPA rates the Prius at 51 mpg city/48 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Toyota Prius comes in five trim levels: there's Two, Three, Four and Five, along with a new-for-2015 Persona Series model based on the Three.

The base-level Prius Two ($25,000) features 15-inch alloy wheels with plastic covers, variable intermittent wipers, push-button start with driver keyless entry, cruise control, automatic climate control and a touchscreen audio system that provides control over some vehicle settings, along with iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity. New for 2015 is a standard backup camera.

The Prius Three ($26,500) adds a voice-activated navigation system and the Entune smartphone-based mobile app interface (unavailable on Two), as well as an enhanced keyless entry system and satellite radio.

The new Prius Persona Series ($27,800) slots above the Three and adds 17-in alloy wheels, exterior chrome trim, leatherette upholstery and turn signals integrated into the side mirrors.

The Prius Four ($29,200) has JBL premium sound, automatic headlights, an auto-dimming mirror and heated front seats with driver power adjustments.

Finally, the Five ($30,800) touts fog lights and LED headlights, along with an exclusive optional Advanced Technology Package that features adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision system, a lane departure warning system, a heads-up display and a larger navigation screen.

Options include a solar sunroof and ventilation system, an upgraded navigation system with a larger screen and an aerodynamic body kit.

Safety

The Prius comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, active front head restraints and seven airbags, including a driver knee airbag. Options include a pre-collision system, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. In government crash tests, the Prius received a perfect 5-star overall rating, which included a 4-star rating for frontal impacts and a 5-star mark for side impacts.

Behind the Wheel

The Prius rides smoothly and quietly, which is a good recipe for a relaxing commute. If you're accustomed to driving a normal car, however, you may be struck by a sense of detachment from the road. That's due to its numb steering, its odd brake pedal feel and its lackluster acceleration. With that said, we can see how there's something peaceful about driving a Prius.

In our interior evaluation, we found the Prius's front seats rather forgettable with regard to both comfort and support. While the backseat has lost a little headroom relative to the previous Prius, there's still ample room for full-sized adults back there. We love the way the dashboard curves toward the driver, giving the cockpit a spaceship-like feel. The gauges, too, look ready for outer space, as they're comprised of a variety of digital readouts and diagrams that describe what the hybrid powertrain is up to. Cabin materials aren't luxury-grade -- you'll need the Prius model's upscale cousin, the Lexus CT 200h, for that -- but they don't seem cheap, either.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid -- Although it's a little more expensive than the Prius, the midsize Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan is also a little bigger and more powerful. Fuel economy is excellent, too, at 44 mpg city/41 mpg hwy.

2014 Toyota Prius c and Prius v -- If you're not sold on the traditional Prius, Toyota now offers two other sizes: the smaller Prius c and the larger Prius v.

Used Lexus CT 200h -- If you think of the CT 200h as a luxury version of the Prius, you wouldn't be very far off. At 43 mpg city/40 mpg hwy, the fuel economy isn't quite as strong, but ride quality and interior materials are improved. Pricing starts around $33,000, so you may want to consider a used one.

AutoTrader's Advice

We'd go for the Prius Three. For only $1,500 more than the base model, you get a navigation system and Toyota's Entune infotainment system, both important features that are certainly worth the price premium.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Toyota Prius: New Car Review - Autotrader