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2017 Toyota Prius: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2017

The 2017 Toyota Prius represents the latest model's second year on the market after a complete overhaul last year. In short, it was a home run redesign -- well, at least in Prius terms. Sure, it's a bit challenging to look at and still comparatively dreary to drive, but with greater comfort, better fuel economy, added features and an ample dose of added refinement, we suspect many shoppers will have many good reasons to flock to this latest model.

Of course, the biggest reason to consider the Prius is its superior fuel economy that should easily see you getting 50 miles per gallon or better. The fact that it's just an all-around better car now should be icing on the cake for some; a reason to finally consider the Prius for others. For perhaps the first time, though, Toyota's quintessential hybrid may finally have true competitors in the new Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro, so make sure you research those before choosing the Prius for your go-to fuel miser.

 What's New for 2017?

The Prius' previously optional Safety Sense package of accident avoidance technologies is now standard on every trim level.

 What We Like

Phenomenal fuel economy; handy hatchback design; adult-sized back seat; impressive equipment, including standard accident avoidance tech

 What We Don't

Better to drive, but still not great; mediocre acceleration; questionable styling

 How Much?

$24,700-$30,000

 Fuel Economy

All Prius models are powered by a hybrid powertrain that consists of 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors/generators. Together, the system produces 121 horsepower. Fuel economy, as expected, is exceptional. Most trim levels return 54 mpg city, 50 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined. The Eco trim level bests it by 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 56 mpg combined. That may seem impressive, but know it only equates to fuel savings on average of $50 per year.

 Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Toyota Prius is offered in three basic trim levels: Prius Two, Prius Three and Prius Four. The Prius Two also offers a fuel-efficiency-minded Eco variant, while Three and Four models also tout a Touring trim with more features. There is also the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid reviewed separately.

The Prius Two ($24,700) comes standard with a 6.1-inch center screen, Siri Eyes Free capability, a backup camera, a 6-speaker sound system, a USB port for music, automatic climate control, keyless access for the driver's door, a push-button starter, automatic LED headlights, 15-in alloy wheels, a CD player and Bluetooth phone and audio capability. Also standard for 2017 is the Toyota Safety Sense package, which adds lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control.

Choose the Two Eco ($25,200), and you'll get low-rolling resistance tires, revised wheel covers and a lighter hybrid battery. The Two Eco also removes the spare tire and rear wiper.

Next up is the Prius Three ($26,700), which adds a wireless-device charging pad, a steering wheel wrapped in simulated leather, satellite radio and Toyota's Entune infotainment system with a 7-in screen, a navigation system and app functionality.

Opt for the Prius Four ($29,100), and you'll get automatic wipers, SofTex vinyl upholstery, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, a cargo cover, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

Opting for the Three Touring ($28,100) or the Four Touring ($30,000) includes everything from its corresponding numbered trim level plus fog lights, 17-in alloy wheels, LED accent lighting, some styling flourishes, and if not already specified, SofTex upholstery.

As for options, Three and Four models offer the Advanced Technology package, which includes a head-up display and a sunroof. Additionally, the Four trims can be equipped with the Premium Convenience package, which includes an automated parking system, Safety Connect emergency communications services and an enhanced JBL sound system.

 Safety

The Prius comes standard with an impressive list of safety features. Besides the usual array of antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags, it also includes a driver knee airbag, a passenger seat cushion airbag, forward collision warning and automatic braking, and lane-departure warning and intervention. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems are standard on the Four and Four Touring.

In government crash tests, the Prius received five stars for overall crash safety plus four stars for frontal protection and five stars for side protection. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Prius a Top Safety Pick+ for its top scores in all relevant tests.

 Behind the Wheel

On the road, the latest Prius makes some strides over its predecessors. While the outgoing model was numb and uninviting, the new version is more engaging, touting quicker steering and more communicative suspension -- especially in upscale Touring guise. Admittedly, with only 121 hp and an automatic continuously variable transmission, it's still no sports car -- but the Prius no longer feels like a penalty box, either.

The latest model also boasts an enhanced smoothness that wasn't found in older versions. That's due to improved suspension and revised body control, which makes for a much better ride. It just feels less tinny and unsubstantial now, especially over big, crashy bumps.

Visibility continues to be a problem, however, due to the split rear-window design that is admittedly a necessity to keep its aerodynamic (and thus, fuel-efficient) shape. The good news is that you get a lot of driver aids with any Prius model.

Inside, we think the Prius' interior is a huge step up over the outgoing model's cabin. Although it isn't necessarily luxurious, we find it impressively futuristic, and there's no doubt the quality of materials has improved (although the SofTex vinyl upholstery won't fool anyone into thinking it's leather). Importantly, the Prius is still highly functional and spacious. The specs may indicate back seat space was reduced, but it's still plenty friendly for adults, and happily, the front seat is considerably more comfortable and spacious for taller drivers.

 Other Cars to Consider

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid -- Hyundai is trying to beat Toyota at the game it invented. The Ioniq offers superior fuel economy than the Prius at a lower price. The Prius may finally have a worthy competitor. The Ioniq is also available in plug-in and electric variants.

2017 Kia Niro -- Here is another new Prius competitor. The Niro doesn't quite match the Prius' fuel economy, but its price tag, quasi-SUV body style and generally more conventional feel are very appealing.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt -- How'd you like to spend $0 at the pump? Well, that's the promise of the Chevy Bolt, the first reasonably price electric car that eases range anxiety by topping 200 miles of range.

Used Honda Accord Hybrid -- The midsize Honda Accord Hybrid boasts an impressive 50 mpg city/45 mpg hwy, along with a roomy cabin and more traditional styling. New models are more expensive than the Prius, so you may have to check out a used version.

 Autotrader's Advice

Now that Toyota Safety Sense is optional, we're not really sure you'd need anything more than a base Prius Two. The standard tech interface and feature content are still pretty good, and since no Prius can be had with leather upholstery, it's not like upper trim levels are that much more luxurious. We would advise against the Two Eco: Yes, it is more efficient, but it's unlikely to save you enough at the pump to even out its 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.
2017 Toyota Prius: New Car Review - Autotrader