2003 Toyota Prius consumer reviews

$19,995 starting MSRP
side view of 2003 Prius Toyota
77% of drivers recommend this car
Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.7
  • Interior design 4.4
  • Performance 3.9
  • Value for the money 4.0
  • Exterior styling 4.2
  • Reliability 4.0
Explore the 2003 Toyota Prius

The Perfect "Comute" and "Errand" Car.

In the 6 years we have owned this car, we have averaged 45 MPG! This is our "town car"; very maneuverable, nimble, comfortable with very light electric powered steering. Perfect in tight parking lots or narrow streets. Room for 4 adults, but rear seat leg room can be an issue with large persons in front. We love this car so much, we will buy a new hybrid battery ($3000) when the time comes. I couldn't find anything I like as well for $3000.


drove like a polished economy car

Traded an '02 Impala in for an '03 Prius. Acceleration from a stop for about 2 seconds was glacially slow, then it took off with gus with the foot to the floor. The most fuel economy I could get no matter how feather-footed I was on the gas, was about 45 miles per gallon, after taking some absurdly extreme steps such as driving below the speed limit until somebody pulled up behind me, drafting behind semis and such. If I drove it normally I got about 43, not much difference. NVH was distinctly better than similarly sized autos*, the ride was as smooth and quiet as a Camry of the same period, with the exception of road noise on coarse pavement which was average. Cratered pavement was nicely smoothed of sharp edges. Handling was adequate but a bit tippy on those tiny tires/wheels, a bit of occasional tire squeal on curving on/off-ramps at speed, but I understand the trade-off required in order to get a decent ride quality on those low-rolling-resistance rubbers. Wind noise was quieter than the typical subcompact car, good sound insulation there. The steering was smooth but numb. Turning circle was 32 feet, excellent and a boon to urban maneuvering. I loved being able to squeeze into the left-over parking slot left over where some behemoth-driving jerks hogged-up two parking spaces with their oversized pig-iron. I was able to run on electric-only up to about 35 miles per hour for about a minute before the engine kicked in. *Speaking of engine, it was somewhat loud and there was some mild vibration. the front seats were flat and unsupportive and the seat cushion way too low on the floor, not adjustable for height. Legroom was adequate for this 6'3" driver, but just barely, ditto headroom. Lumbar support was also lacking. I sold it because my insurance company majorly upped my premiums as [they explained] this car is expensive to repair.


Expensive to maintain

This was expensive to maintain, compared to other Toyota?s. I bought it at $145k miles and that same year I had to replace the hybrid battery ($2k) and CAT ($1700). All repairs and main fence need to be done at a dealership, because other mechanics don?t know how to work on hybrids (everything looks different under the hood). So that gets pricey. Also, the power that it has is lacking. It has as much power as a golf cart. Going up hills is the worst. Reliable otherwise.


My favorite car

Perfect for me. Reliable, efficient in fact a very cool car. Not only is it fun to drive but is safe and nifty. I could not be happier.


Ours has been insanely reliable

We've taken this car from 66,000 miles to 166,000 miles...and replaced two shocks, four tires, and a regular battery. And that's IT!!!! Combined with 45 mpg average, and it's the cheapest car to drive on the planet. We have loved this car and can't figure out how we'll ever replace it for something with 45 mpg, and nearly zero maintenance costs! It's mind-boggling how well this car runs, and just keeps going and going and going.


Great car!

Best mileage of any car I've ever owned. Super comfortable and quiet. Can't beat the reliability. Kinda like that Energizer Bunny - just keep going, and going, and going . . .


I loved my Prius when I bought her........

I purchased my 2003 Prius in Dec 2002; it now has less than 55.000 miles on it. Six times since I bought it, the warning lights, engine xx lights, etc have come on. The car has gone from ~25 mph to 19 to 12 - all the way to 3mph, -> 2->>DEAD. Three times I have waited anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours and the car has restarted with no problem. Three times my car required towing to the dealership. The dealership has NOT found a problem yet. The last time this happened, my car was at the dealership for 1 week to be driven and checked out. One mechanic did not feel comfortable driving it home because it may 'die'. How does he think I feel? No physical damage. I have paid for 3 towings; I have rented a car 3 times. I have to be without a car for days -- luckily I have friends. The biggest problems are (1) I don't trust my car --- reliability is non-existent, (2) the resale value is limited if I were to trade it in at a dealership and I could not in good conscience, sell it to another person (3) I don't meet the lemon law requirement of 4 problems over 12 months and (4) I can not afford another car payment -- and I should not have to buy a new car -- this one has less than 55,000 miles on it! I loved her when I bought it and I would like to love her again -- but I don't trust it! Sounds like an old, sad love song doesn't it??


Great Value

The Prius has been the best and most reliability car that I have ever owned. It is excellent on gas mileage and handles great on mountain roads. The mileage is outstanding in town. The air conditioner cools well, and the car is very comfort. I am just amaze at it's performance.


Toyota Prius

This is a great car for gas mileage, however I live in Chicago and they don't handle very well in the snow. I think due the lightness and low to the ground build, they tend to slip more than other two door models. Other than than, a great city car!