The best thing? I achieved silly-good mileage, in less-than-ideal conditions, without even trying. On my watch, which included minimal use of the fuel-saving ECO mode, minimal in-town city driving where hybrids typically operate most efficiently, and minimal changes to my moderately heavy-footed driving habits, I measured 4.4 L/100 km. To compare, a three-cylinder Mini Clubman, which I thought was ultra-thrifty, did 7 L/100 km on a similar drive. So, Prius is hilariously good on fuel.
Complaints? Just two. Some automakers have made strides towards a more natural brake-pedal feel in hybrid cars, which typically don’t have a natural brake pedal feel, because of how hybrid cars brake.
The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is one example. Prius, on the other hand, still has brakes that feel a little funny and artificial, at least until you get used to them, which I never really did. They perform with appreciable urgency when needed, though the feel at the pedal itself is still pure hybrid. Second, there’s a back-up beeper that engages urgently when reverse is selected, though it’s located inside the car, and the incessant beeping in the cabin makes backing up an unpleasant experience.
The latest Prius is so good to drive, in so many ways, that it left your writer wondering about the styling. This is a weird-looking car, plain and simple. And sure: it has to look this way, to be as aerodynamic as it is. And some shoppers don’t care how their car looks. And a few more may even find it charming, since it looks like the love child of R2D2 and a grasshopper. Still, I wonder if Prius would be more appealing to the masses if it looked less out-of-this-world.
After all, even after years on sale, and many advances, hybrid cars still account for only a teensy fraction of car sales. And of any hybrid I’ve driven, this is the one that feels most like an opinion changer for the hesitant.
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/60,000 km roadside assistance; 8 years/160,000 km hybrid components
Ultimately, if you can digest the styling, Prius delivers many of the traits in highest demand for cars today. It’s comfortable. Flexible. Nice to drive. Maneuverable. Responsive. Even quick, in the right situation. It has the latest safety gear and high-tech gadgets, and beyond all of that, the fuel costs will make you giggle. If you’ve historically been apprehensive about driving a hybrid, possibly worried about handling or performance or operational compromises, this is the one to test drive, to change your mind.
Pricing: 2016 Toyota Prius Tech
Base price: $28,730
Options: Advanced Package ($3,260)
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $33,780