Most significant changes: Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa are standard on all Prius hatchback models, and the L Eco, LE and XLE models add a 7-inch touchscreen. Prius Prime plug-in models add standard CarPlay, Alexa and SiriusXM satellite radio, a three-place rear bench seat for five-passenger capacity, and two USB ports for rear passengers.
Price change: Prices rise by $465 on all Prius hatchback models except the Limited, which sees a $210 price increase. On the Prius Prime, prices increase by $185 to $485, depending on model. (Prices include a destination charge that increases by $35 to $955.)
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Which should you buy, 2019 or 2020? Apple iPhone users especially should go for the 2020s and the standard CarPlay. The price increases are modest enough that buying a 2019 makes sense only if it comes with a substantially larger discount.
The Toyota Prius used to be one of the more popular passenger cars in the U.S., but sales are on a steep slide as more buyers gravitate to SUVs and crossovers, other hybrids and electric vehicles. Through August, calendar-year sales were down 29 percent, and that’s despite a restyling and the addition of all-wheel-drive models for 2019.
Related: What’s New With Toyota in 2019?
The biggest change for 2020 is that Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa are standard on all models as Toyota finally succumbs to market demand for phone compatibility.
Prius Prime models — the plug-in versions that can go 25 miles in electric-only mode — also get a three-place rear bench seat instead of the previous two-seat configuration.
Trim levels for the Prime are now called LE, XLE and Limited instead of the previous Plus, Premium and Advanced. Prices rise by $285 on the LE to $28,555 (all prices include destination); by $485 on the XLE to $30,455; and by $185 on the Limited to $34,455. All Prime models have front-wheel drive.
Prices are $465 higher on Prius liftback models (the non-plug-ins) except the Limited, which is up $210 to $33,330. The base L Eco starts at $25,155. The LE starts at $26,365, and the AWD-e version is $1,400 more. Base price on the XLE is $29,205, and AWD is $1,000 more. An electric motor drives the rear wheels on AWD models, which use a nickel-metal-hydride hybrid battery pack instead of the lithium-ion type on other Prius models.
The Prius has always been more about efficiency than performance, and the current versions maintain that tradition. All models are rated at 50 mpg or more by the EPA. The availability of AWD gives the current generation more appeal in the snow belt, and the regular versions have enough space for four people and a good amount of cargo. The Prime’s rear seat is tighter and less comfortable, and the cargo space is skimpier. But in an era where the crossover is king and fuel economy is further down the priority list, the Prius doesn’t offer enough of what most people want, so dealers should be discounting.
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