Though few people would look at a Prius and see it as a high-performance vehicle, the truth is that they are every bit as rigorously engineered as a Porsche or BMW. Toyota's designers maintain a ruthless pursuit of fuel economy, improving whenever and wherever they can.
For 2021, several variations of the Prius are available, intended to appeal to the variety of hybrid car buyers who have different requirements. The Prius, the standard on which all the others are based, is a 4-door compact hatch that comes in L, LE, XLE, Limited and 20th Anniversary trims. Prius LE and XLE trims can be optioned with AWD-e, an automatic, on-demand all-wheel-drive system that utilizes a rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels as necessary. Meanwhile, the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime is a four-door with 2+2 seating.
All three standard Prius models are powered by a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine connected to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive electric motor. The only transmission choice remains a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Prime pairs the fuel-sipping 1.8-liter engine and CVT with an 8.8 kWh battery pack. The car can run on battery power alone for up to 25 miles, perfect for the daily commute, while total range in hybrid mode is about 640 miles.
The interior of the Prius is big and airy, offering an open feel and a good view of the road ahead, with improved headroom over previous generations. Two 4.2-inch multi-information displays are housed within the instrument panel. Basic information such as speed and fuel level are displayed on the right. The left display, on the other hand, is programmable, allowing the driver to choose what information he or she wants to see at any time. The Prime benefits from an 11.6-inch touchscreen display that is centrally mounted vertically, similar to that found in the Tesla, and it is controlled through simple tap/swipe gestures, much like a tablet.
Basic features on the Prius include 15-inch alloy wheels, low rolling resistance tires and four-wheel disc brakes. Higher trim levels include a navigation system, and synthetic leather seating surfaces. A suite of safety options includes a pedestrian detection system and a pre-collision warning system, as well as a radar-controlled dynamic cruise control system.
Options include a premium JBL sound system and a full parking assistance system, which will make parallel parking much easier with the help of ultrasonic sensors. Electric all-wheel-drive, or AWD-e, is optional on LE and XLE trims.