24 April 2024
Toyota Prius Hybrid Review – Sleek Sipper

Generational improvements to the Prius have seen it stand tall as the industry standard for hybrid vehicles.

The Ur Prius was introduced in 1997 as the first mass-produced hybrid car, and immediately became renowned for excellent fuel economy. Toyota has steadily improved its base formula for the hybrid system since then, resulting in what we have today.

This is the fifth generation Prius featuring the fifth generation hybrid system. Despite a plethora of hybrid vehicles from other manufacturers in its segment, the Prius is generally regarded as the flag bearer where hybrids are concerned.

Where Priuses (or is it Pri-ii?) were once visually ho-hum to okay, the way this Prius looks gets car enthusiasts hot under the collar.


Sharp, sleek lines and narrow headlights at its nose give this Prius a sporty stance from the word go. The way the windscreen is raked back and the profile swoops up, back and down again from the front bumper to the C-pillar adds to the sporty profile.

17-inch rims wear eco-friendly 195/60 R17 Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 tyres, which are pretty quiet and comfy on the move, except over rougher tarmac. Although they can be momentum-driven into a corner, expect such antics to be accompanied by loud shrieks and howls from the tyres.

Black plastic cladding brackets each wheel arch, contrasting nicely with the test car’s white paintwork.

The rear-end, to me at least, seems more traditional Prius, with a high boot line and gloss black trim above the rounded bumper.

The reverse camera sits proud of the gloss black trim just below the light bar. This is because the infotainment system is an aftermarket item, and this is the camera which comes with that head unit. More on that later.


Swing open the tailgate to reveal 370 litres of boot space, which is a bit on the smaller side. If more is needed, drop the 60:40-split seatbacks to liberate additional carrying capacity.

To open the rear doors, one needs to press an electronic switch hidden away behind the black trim. While nice, a mechanical handle similar to that in the Toyota C-HR would have probably been easier to implement and cheaper.

Here’s where the swooping roofline of the Prius becomes a small fly in the ointment – during back seat ingress and egress. Remember to duck your head to avoid hitting the roof pillar as you enter and exit the vehicle, especially if you are taller. The previous Prius was better in this regard.

The legroom in the rear is good, and I can sit behind my own driving position with the driver’s seat all the way back and some ways up.

Rear seat passengers can avail themselves of two USB Type C ports for charging mobile devices. No rear aircon vents though, which is a pity.

The manually adjustable front seats are standard Toyota comfortable.

So is the steering wheel, which looks a little large at first, but is actually nicely sized for daily driving duties.

However, it needs to be adjusted a little lower so as to not obscure the small seven-inch instrument screen a la the Toyota bZ4X. The screen can be configured in a few ways, but a larger, more traditional screen would be preferable.

An aftermarket nine-inch infotainment system from Pioneer sits proudly at the centre of the dashboard and features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cable for wired connectivity sits in the glovebox.

The sound system can play loud and clear and can be tuned to punch out bass to where the wing mirrors vibrate.


No surprises here, the Prius is as easy to drive as any Toyota. The suspension is standard-fare Japanese car, and tends to thump over road imperfections, but is otherwise fine.

Road noise at higher speeds does intrude somewhat, and better wheel-arch insulation would have been appreciated. However, wind noise is pretty much non-existent.

Outward visibility is great, and parking is a cinch, even without using the backup camera image on the infotainment system.

Underhood sits a 1.8-litre four-cylinder hybrid engine making a combined 138hp.

Don’t let that number put you off because in real life, the Prius picks up with urgency thanks to torque from its internal combustion engine and electric motor. The Prius can be pointed and squirted if desired, but the engine will moo whilst doing so.

This then brings us to the raison d’etre of the Prius – fuel efficiency. Toyota claims 4.1-litres/100km or 24.4km/litre. Is this achievable?


pure street
mostly highway

It is more than achievable. I managed to clock a weighted and normalised average of 3.31-litres/100km or 30.2km/litre across both the street and highway routes.

Then came the round-island mixed-drive Tour de Singapour in which the previously-reviewed Corolla Cross Hybrid clocked a then-impressive 27km/litre.

The Prius, already having scoffed at that figure twice, put in yet another 30.3km/litre or 3.3-litres/100km for good measure. This with my neighbour, who’d recently experienced the same Prius in Japan but with a two-litre engine, riding shotgun instead of just me driving alone.

Where the Yaris Cross Hybrid comes close, I’ve never seen this level of consistency in efficiency numbers across all three test routes before. Which is why the Prius now sits as King of Full Hybrids among all the hybrids we’ve tested to date.

mixed-drive Tour de Singapour
impromptu eco-challenge drive

Lest anyone thinks that these numbers come courtesy of hypermiling, I also decided to do an impromptu hypermiling-esque eco-challenge, and the Prius delivered with 48.6km/litre or 2.06 litres/100km.

Naturally, your mileage may vary with use-case and driving style, but the Prius can play ball if you so choose. How?

Hybrido Doraibingu

By driving a hybrid like a hybrid. In other words, utilise the pulse-and-glide technique and drive smoothly, not slowly. This applies to all full-hybrid vehicles Here’s how to do it.

First off, select this Energy Monitor screen to be shown on the instrument cluster, and keep it on for all drives.

Pull away from a set of traffic lights with light throttle pressure to allow the Prius to set off using only its electric motor.

When the engine kicks in, add a little more throttle pressure to accelerate up to the speed limit quicker, then ease up on the throttle and the Prius will alternate between pure electric drive, regenerative braking and using the engine to drive the car and charge the battery.

pure electric drive
petrol engine drives Prius and charges the battery

Also, anticipate ahead and let the vehicle coast and reduce speed. The idea here is to try and avoid a complete stop, since moving off from a standstill requires the most energy, be it from the electric motor, internal combustion engine, or both.

regeneration upon deceleration or braking
petrol engine charges low battery at standstill

Finally, use gravity to your advantage by letting the vehicle gain momentum downhill in an electric-only drive. By keeping the throttle constant, it will then shed this momentum on the next uphill while using minimum petrol, and you’ve effectively coasted the distance for free.

Should You Buy One?

There are two chief competitors to the Prius that need mentioning.

First is the Volkswagen Golf R-Line. Being a COE Cat A car means less road tax. It’s also pretty good on fuel and feels solidly planted on the road. Although it costs around $9,000 more, there’s also a Golf Life Plus variant that’s almost $1,000 cheaper than the Prius.

Second is the Hyundai Avante Hybrid Elite. At almost $13,000 less than the Prius, the Avante Hybrid represents excellent value for money, especially with heated and cooled seats, dual-zone climate control and rear aircon vents. Plus it does excellently on the fuel efficiency side of things, and is a COE Cat A vehicle, meaning less road tax.

But, and it’s a rather big ‘but,’ one cannot ignore what the Prius stands for. Toyota’s generational improvements to the hybrid system mean that the Prius is currently the last word when it comes to full hybrid-vehicle fuel efficiency.

One also cannot ignore Toyota’s legendary reputation for reliability and being easy to maintain. Yes, it may be simple, but that also means fewer things to go wrong.

For those who value these traits, the Toyota Prius Hybrid awaits.

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

Technical Specifications

Toyota Prius Hybrid

Engine Capacity: 1,798cc inline four-cylinder
Engine Power: 97hp @ 5,200rpm
Motor Power: 94hp
Combined Power: 138hp
Engine Torque: 142Nm @ 3,600rpm
Motor Torque: 185Nm
Drive: front wheels
Transmission: continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Top Speed: 180km/h (claimed)
Unladen Weight: 1,350kg
Fuel Capacity: 43-litres
Battery Type: Lithium-Ion
Fuel/Energy Economy: 4.1-litres/100km or 24.4km/litre (claimed)
Price: S$190,888 with COE (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Toyota Singapore

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