This may make you feel old, but it’s been more than 10 years since the first Toyota Prius went on sale in the U.S.
In 2001, car shoppers and the media were skeptical of the Prius’ ability to deliver superb gas mileage over the long term — even with the eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the batteries. Many early adopters of the Prius (and the Honda Insight) took a risk, and it seems to have paid off, according to Consumer Reports.
The 2001 Toyota Prius has better-than-expected reliability — with the only area of concern being the electrical systems – and low ownership costs, Consumer Reports said. That info comes from more than 36,000 reliability surveys submitted from subscribers.
Consumer Reports went a step further and tested the overall quality of the hybrid propulsion system in a 2002 Prius with nearly 208,000 miles on it. The model achieved an overall fuel economy score of 40.4 mpg, nearly identical to the numbers generated in 2001.
The car drove pretty much the same as it did 10 years ago, even with the original shocks, engine and transmission — a pretty amazing feat of engineering, according to Consumer Reports. Many of the components in the Prius were invented from scratch, according to Toyota. Regenerative braking, electronic power steering, electronic systems, the batteries — not any of them had been tested by Toyota in a mass-produced model before the Prius.
Not all Prius owners have been lucky with their batteries, though. Many have complained about batteries failing after 100,000 to 150,000 miles of use. Consumer Reports rated the reliability of the battery of the 2001-2003 Prius as worse than expected. A brand-new replacement battery can cost between $2,200 and $2,600, but Consumer Reports says that salvaging a low-mileage battery from an inoperable model costs about $500.
The Prius is now in its third generation, with nearly 900,000 on the road in the U.S.
The 200,000-Mile Question: How Does the Toyota Prius Hold Up? (Consumer Reports)