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2019 Toyota Prius

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$23,770 — $32,200 MSRP
19
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Hatchback
5 Seats
50-52 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

By Mike Hanley

When you think about impressive performance, maybe a car with a quick quarter-mile or zero-to-60-mph time is the first thing to come to mind. But you can also look at performance through the lens of efficiency, and the restyled 2019 Toyota Prius is a standout in this regard, consistently delivering well over 50 mpg without having to change your driving style one bit. And with a new all-wheel-drive version for 2019, the Prius has the potential to appeal to a new group of buyers. I traveled to Kohler, Wis., to drive the latest version of Toyota’s iconic hybrid to see how it performs on the street and in the snow.

Related: A Prius for All Seasons Joins Toyota Hybrid’s Refreshed 2019 Lineup

Efficiency

Toyota made the 2019 Prius available to drive on short street loops that mixed brief highway driving with lower-speed city streets and rural roads, and the car returned some stunning trip-computer-estimated fuel economy.

The base front-wheel-drive L Eco trim level is the most efficient version with Toyota-estimated gas mileage of 58/53/56 mpg city/highway/combined, the same as the 2018. (Other FWD trims are rated 54/50/52 mpg.) The L Eco’s trip computer showed 59.2 mpg at the end of one loop and 64.8 mpg at the end of another. I drove it like any other test car, and the outside temperature was hovering in the low 30s — not ideal hybrid weather. I don’t normally get too excited about fuel economy, but the Prius’ performance (albeit on short routes of less ...

When you think about impressive performance, maybe a car with a quick quarter-mile or zero-to-60-mph time is the first thing to come to mind. But you can also look at performance through the lens of efficiency, and the restyled 2019 Toyota Prius is a standout in this regard, consistently delivering well over 50 mpg without having to change your driving style one bit. And with a new all-wheel-drive version for 2019, the Prius has the potential to appeal to a new group of buyers. I traveled to Kohler, Wis., to drive the latest version of Toyota’s iconic hybrid to see how it performs on the street and in the snow.

Related: A Prius for All Seasons Joins Toyota Hybrid’s Refreshed 2019 Lineup

Efficiency

Toyota made the 2019 Prius available to drive on short street loops that mixed brief highway driving with lower-speed city streets and rural roads, and the car returned some stunning trip-computer-estimated fuel economy.

The base front-wheel-drive L Eco trim level is the most efficient version with Toyota-estimated gas mileage of 58/53/56 mpg city/highway/combined, the same as the 2018. (Other FWD trims are rated 54/50/52 mpg.) The L Eco’s trip computer showed 59.2 mpg at the end of one loop and 64.8 mpg at the end of another. I drove it like any other test car, and the outside temperature was hovering in the low 30s — not ideal hybrid weather. I don’t normally get too excited about fuel economy, but the Prius’ performance (albeit on short routes of less than 15 miles) was remarkable.

The new Prius AWD-e isn’t as efficient, with manufacturer-estimated gas mileage of 52/48/50 mpg, and its trip computer mpg was around 5 mpg less than the L Eco’s on each drive route: 54.6 and 59.6 mpg, respectively. That’s in line with the 6-mpg combined spread between the L Eco (56 mpg) and AWD-e models (50 mpg).

The LE AWD-e and XLE AWD-e trims are 170 and 145 pounds heavier, respectively, than their front- drive counterparts, and they have a rear electric motor that makes 7 horsepower and 40 pounds-feet of torque. The motor drives the rear wheels from zero-to-6 mph to reduce wheel slippage when starting off, and it can drive the rear wheels as needed up to 43 mph. AWD-e trims also use a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack for better extreme-cold performance instead of the lithium-ion pack that goes in front-drive models.

How It Drives

On dry roads, the driving experience of front- and all-wheel-drive versions is essentially the same. Acceleration is acceptable — the Prius is quick enough to keep merging with highway traffic from becoming a stress-filled endeavor — but I wouldn’t call it swift.

What really shines, though, is the hybrid system’s overall seamlessness — both when accelerating and braking. The transition from all-electric power when starting off to when the gas engine comes on is smooth, and brake-pedal feel is linear and predictable. That’s not to say that the gas engine runs quietly; you do hear a lot of engine drone in the cabin when the 1.8-liter four-cylinder is running. There’s also wind noise at highway speeds.

The Prius steers with a light touch, but steering feel is nonexistent. It’s also surprisingly willing to take on fast corners; it feels planted and stable, lending it some unexpected sportiness.

Wisconsin is usually good for some snow by December, but since it was nowhere to be seen in Kohler, Toyota made its own snow-covered course to showcase the capability of the Prius AWD-e.

Like front-drive models, AWD-e versions use low-rolling-resistance tires, and the AWD-e’s 5.3 inches of ground clearance is only marginally greater (0.2 inch) than that of the FWD Prius. On the snow course, the AWD-e Prius held its line better through corners and had no trouble accelerating up a hill from a standstill.

The Inside

Changes to the interior for 2019 are few but noteworthy. Toyota has moved the switches for the optional seat heaters next to the center console cupholders to make them easier to reach, and the cabin’s gloss-white trim has been replaced with gloss-black accents. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity didn’t make the cut, but Toyota said it plans to add both in the future, without providing a timetable.

The car’s driving position is comfortable, and the cabin is big enough for taller adults to ride in the front and rear seats at the same time. The rear-seat backrest isn’t reclined as far as I’d like, and the sloping roofline makes the rear side windows a little small, but headroom and legroom in the backseat are good.

With a standard 60/40-split, folding backseat and the car’s hatchback design, the Prius’ versatility impresses. The AWD-e’s cargo area measures 24.6 cubic feet, and it swells to 62.7 cubic feet when the backseat is folded down. (The L Eco, XLE FWD and Limited have 27.4 cubic feet behind their backseats.)

Related: But Wait, There’s More: 2020 Toyota Corolla Gets a Hybrid, Too

Pricing

The base front-wheel-drive L Eco trim starts at $24,690, including a $920 destination charge. Front-drive LE and XLE trims are $25,900 and $28,740, respectively; the price for an all-wheel-drive LE is $1,400 greater, and an all-wheel-drive XLE is $1,000 more. All-wheel drive is not offered for the Limited trim, which is priced at $33,120.

While the AWD-e Prius performed well in the snow considering its efficiency-focused tires, if you’re concerned about getting where you need to go during harsh winter weather, you should really consider a set of winter tires on separate wheels. Winter tire and wheel packages for the Prius are relatively inexpensive (less than $700 at Tire Rack, for example), and they’ll improve traction for front- and all-wheel-drive models alike. There’s the hassle of storing your extra wheels and swapping them twice a year with the changing of the seasons, of course.

With the right tires, all-wheel drive is hard to beat for winter traction, and though a tire change won’t necessarily give a FWD car AWD performance, it can improve things for most motorists. If what attracted you to the Prius in the first place is the 56-mpg combined rating of the L Eco model, winter tires give you extra traction during winter months without having to pay the AWD-e’s gas mileage penalty year-round.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.8
23 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Great vehicle!

by Gloria from Cook, MN on October 8, 2019

Although I loved my former Prius, I am very glad to get this new one. I appreciate the many safety features of this vehicle, and am learning more about it each time I drive it. Thanks, Toyota! Read full review

(5.0)

An economical, comfortable, reliable vehicle

by Paul & Holly on October 5, 2019

The vehicle handles very well and is comfortable for our long trips. We appreciate the good amount of cargo space, leg room, climate control, and acceleration. Controls on the driver's seat provide ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2019 Toyota Prius currently has 0 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Toyota

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    24 months / unlimited distance

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

Latest 2019 Prius Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Prius received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Latch or Latch system

A

Infant seat

A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

B

Rear-facing convertible

A

Booster

(second row)

B
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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