Toyota Prius Three

From the Sun to the Road – an electrification Tour de Force

Toyota Prius Three

From the Sun to the Road – an electrification Tour de Force

By Kevin Joostema, Partner, Car-ED.com 


With over 20 years and 2 million plus Prius family vehicles sold in the US alone, the iconic hybrid vehicle from Toyota Motor continues to give you a feeling of WOW when driving this third generation, the Prius Three.

What is this vehicle?

This is the iconic hybrid from Toyota Motor. With a new styling that is liked by some, but not liked by others. The styling takes a new leap forward with this third generation of the Prius to keep looking advanced and carrying some futuristic edging from the Mirai fuel cell vehicle. It is the rear tail light treatment that gets the ding for the styling by most consumers. On the positive side – it does stand out and is a defining signature look, which plays better at night on the road to stand out and be recognized as something unique.

The vehicle is a 5 passenger, compact hatchback that reads from the side exterior almost like a midsize sedan with a fastback design.

Who is this vehicle for?

Mainstream compact car owners or midsize sedan buyers that definitely want to make a Green statement with the highest fuel efficiency available and to feel like you are making a difference as a car driver. This difference also contributes to a feeling of getting a great value – you are using much less gas and being efficient with your driving needs.

Like many icons, there is a feeling of joining the club once you become a driver of a Prius. In that sense, some luxury car owners may consider this vehicle when stepping down or over from their current luxury car.

Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer?

The Prius and its variations still lead the hybrid offerings in the US. This is the tried and true technology for hybrids – used in Toyota, Lexus (the luxury division of Toyota) and by other brands in joint ventures over the past two decades. At this point, the Prius Three represents one of the newest and yet best values for hybrid powertrain performance and overall ownership experience.

For Toyota – the Prius is an Icon, building a whole new sub-brand of a Prius family and providing technology experience that is now influencing – and helping Toyot lead – the development of Plug-In Hybrid versions of their portfolio, luxury car offers through Lexus, as well as all other full electrification efforts.

Interesting facts about this vehicle!

The Toyota Prius family is the market leader with over 2 million units sold through 2017 YTD, representing an approximate 48% market share of total hybrid sales in the U.S. (Source: Wikipedia, HybridCars.com Jan.5 Dashboard)

Out of the 9 million plus hybrids sold worldwide by Toyota Motor Company through 2016, the United States accounted for approximately 44% of TMC global hybrid sales.[6][18]

What Impressed Us / Top Likes:

The ”likes“ are surprisingly many in this car. We actually felt kind of special as I drove this vehicle around Northern Virginia. We thought it would not feel so special given how common hybrids and other alternative powertrains have become in the auto world.

The feeling of astonishment when achieving 70 MPG+ during a 46 mile long test drive was a huge ”WOW” – something I have not felt since first driving a diesel powered sedan and getting near 45 mpg. We achieved 70.6 mpg average on our 46 mile+ round trip journey into the Virginia countryside – going through city streets first and then hilly country roads. And this was with the A/C on full force most of the drive.

Another “like” is the stylish interior seating and overall feel. While the previous two generations of the Prius felt quite utilitarian on the interior this newest Prius Three in the trim driven had highly stylized seating, a bold grey on silver (almost white) textile and of course a futuristic dash layout and nontraditional shifer. Dare we say , it almost felt luxurious in some ways.

We also ”liked” the center instrument cluster. It is long and across the whole center of the upper console. It is one of the best executions of having four (4) areas of information clustered into what appears as one large information center. We very much appreciated all the vehicle system icons clustered on the far right – such as seat belt warning, lane keep assist, parking break, etc.. It was fantastic to have these all in one area rather than scattered randomly throughout the instrument cluster. It really makes sense this way to have a quick glance of what is on and what is not on!

The other three of the four sections (seen above) contain information on the vehicle performance, the vehicle charging/hybrid dynamics, and then the usual vehicle driving mode / selector. Again, this cluster is one of the best executions of gathering a lot of technology and vehicle information into concise clusters that I have seen in the marketplace.

Speaking of vehicle driving mode – our final like is the three driving modes that can be chosen on this vehicle. There is an all EV mode (pure electric driving), an ECO setting to maximize fuel efficiency, and a POWER mode. This was unexpected going into our drive, but was a pleasant surprise to see we can have a little extra boost when needed – and of course great in the neighborhood and parking lot to be only electric when desired.

Items to Make Better (Least Favorite Things):

We believe the wireless charging pad in the lower center console takes up a LOT of real estate. Personally, we have still never been able to get this feature to work easily, and for the space it utilizes, it just doesn’t seem worth it. We are sure a minority of buyers may use it – so maybe as it becomes more common and use of it is more widespread it will be more appreciated in the future. For now – it seems like a waste of valuable space.

The rear spoiler is well integrated – so well that it is actually missed visually. We like a spoiler to be recognized as a spoiler. Perhaps giving more attention to it with LED lighting across on the next generation would further improve the sporty image as well as provide alternatives for unique rear lighting designs.

The rear cargo is a good space – but perhaps some additional nooks and special “spaces” carved out would help those midsize shoppers stay with a Prius rather than opting for the midsize sedan hybrids. Like cup holders – can’t have too many special storage spaces.

Segment and Competitors:

The compact hybrids available in the market:

  • (New) Hyundai Ioniq
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Ford C-Max
  • Honda Clarity Hybrid

A secondary list of competitors is often made with the many midsize sedan hybrids that are offered – which include a decent volume from the Camry Hybrid, the Sonata Hybrid, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid as well as others.

Given the high fuel efficiency and pricing, some also compare the Prius to the pure Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) available – such as the Nissan Leaf, VW eGolf, and the Ford Focus Electric. The newer BEVs, like Chevy Bolt, can compete with the Plug-in version called the Prius Prime.

Unique Specifications:

All Toyotas by the end of 2017 come standard with a version of Toyota Safety Sense TM – a suite of advanced safety and driver-assistance technologies. For the Prius, this includes:

  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
  • Lane Departure Alert WITH Steering Assist
  • Auto High Beams
  • Full speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (Auto Cruise Control)

This is unique in the industry – Toyota is the only one making such technologies standard on all vehicles. Quite impressive.

The other unique content is the Hybrid Synergy Drive System – what defines the Hybrid segment.

For other specifications and equipment go to: https://www.toyota.com/prius/

or www.Car-ED.com and see if a Prius or other Toyota best connects to you!

Pricing and Availability:

MSRP starts at ,735 for the Prius Three. As delivered and tested, our model with some options cost (excluding delivery charge) ,321

Available across the country now.

2018-02-15T00:10:22-04:00Jul 2017|Car Reviews|