2013 Toyota Prius
2013 Toyota Prius
2013 Toyota Prius. Click image to enlarge

Review by Justin Pritchard

Vehicle Type: 5-door hybrid

History/Description: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, no automaker has had the success in marketing and selling hybrids that Toyota has – and that success is led largely by their hybrid flagship, the Prius. Generation three of the popular, partially-electric hatch now has several years of sales under its belt, with numerous examples popping up in the used market.

Prius is a hot item with environmentally conscious drivers, as well as anyone after a vehicle keenly focused on reliability, flexibility and low running costs.

After selling over 1.5 million copies of the previous models globally, this generation boasted a redeveloped drive system with more power and better fuel mileage, compared to what was already a miserly car. Combined mileage should land at around 4 L / 100 km.

Feature content may include a premium JBL stereo system, CD changer, navigation, numerous multi-function display screens, a moonroof, intelligent key system and power seats. Also available were roof-mounted solar panels, radar-guided cruise control, and a collision warning system.

Engines / Trim: Power comes from a 1.8L four-cylinder engine that generates 98 horsepower. The battery-propelled electric drive system is capable of 80 horsepower, and combined output is rated at 134 ponies. The Prius drives the front wheels via a Continually Variable Transmission (CVT) for enhanced mileage and smoothness.

What Owners Like: No surprises here. Prius owners typically rave about great fuel mileage, a flexible and accommodating cabin, plenty of versatile cargo space – possibly even with room for a bike or two – and the availability of high-end options and features.  The premium stereo is highly rated, and a solid overall feel and comfortable ride round out the package. Many owners note that performance is appreciably decent, too. Visiting the gas station only a few times a month is another nice touch, too.

What Owners Dislike: Complaints include poor performance from the factory stereo, some fussy controls relating to the multi-function displays, a sometimes-difficult Bluetooth system and boring driving dynamics.

Here’s what some Prius owners are saying at www.autoTRADER.ca

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2013 Toyota Prius & 2010 Toyota Prius. Click image to enlarge

The Test Drive: Prepare to spend some quality time with your used Prius candidate to ensure you’re getting a healthy machine that’s likely to be trouble-free. Outside, confirm proper operation from all lights, noting that premium LED or xenon lighting components can be pricey to replace if they aren’t functioning properly. Ensure the liftgate struts hold the hatch open on their own, too. If they’re worn out, someone’s probably going to take some steel to the melon.

Elsewhere outside, scrutinize the condition of the Prius’s paint for signs of scratching and other damage, as some owners report less-than-durable finish quality. Also, check that the lower front bumper air dam isn’t cracked or broken from contact with irregular road surfaces

On board, spend a few minutes cycling through display readouts, trying all electronics and confirming proper operation of the power seats, windows, locks, Bluetooth, navigation, air conditioning, steering-wheel mounted audio controls and anything else that runs on electricity.

2010 Toyota Prius2010 Toyota Prius2010 Toyota Prius2010 Toyota Prius
2010 Toyota Prius. Click image to enlarge

Note that numerous owners have complained of rapid battery depletion in regards to their smart-key transponder remotes – possibly caused by faulty system programming or storage of the key within too close a proximity to another device with a certain type of electronic interference (ie, cell phone charger) which could secretly activate the key and kill its battery fast. Be sure to try both transponder fobs, several times, to lock, unlock and start the Prius you’re considering. Issues will likely require new batteries or a re-programming of the smart-key system.

Take any check engine lights illuminated in the cluster during your test drive as a sign that the model you’re considering requires further inspection by a Toyota mechanic, who can hook the model up to a computer diagnostic system for a closer look.

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