Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The current Prius is a greener, smarter and more attractive Hybrid than the superseded model. Although the exterior reflects the same overall shape as the previous model, the styling has improved tenfold - now you can drive an environmentally sound car without sacrificing space, comfort or performance. Also, the batteries will last 15 years, according to Toyota.
Not so good There is obvious tyre noise when cornering at low speeds with the windows down. Due to the angle of the rear sloping windscreen it's hard to fit large objects in the boot without having to the fold down the rear seats.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The interior looks and feels like a cockpit - there's an abundance of controls and a multitude of adjustments the driver can make to the engine or the audio system or the climate control system etc. The raised centre console combined with a lower seating position provides an almost sports-like feel to the cabin.
Not so good The front seats are close to the bottom of the steering wheel and at one of our tester’s seat set-up they hit their knees when exiting the vehicle. As mentioned previously, the sloping rear windscreen minimises luggage capacity and to fit large square objects you’ll need to fold the rear seats flat.
Performance

Performance

Good Toyota really has pulled a rabbit from a hat with this vehicle; the Prius achieves a record-breaking 3.9L per 100km making it Number 1 according to greenvehicleguide.gov.au (at time of release). It's powered by a 1.8L 4-cyl DOHC Petrol engine mated with an intelligent electric motor, and you can choose between three modes (POWER, ECO & EV) to accommodate a variety of driving styles and conditions. POWER uses a combination of petrol & electric - it's noticeably more torquey, great for overtaking and steep hills. The ECO mode has a bias towards the electric motor and reduces the amount of acceleration allowed. The EV mode uses just the electric motor, which is great for bumper-to-bumper traffic; it only reacts to about 30% acceleration before the petrol engine kicks in. Clever.
Not so good The regenerative braking shifter does not slow the vehicle down enough - maybe we're being lazy but it would be useful on the long highway trips if it reduced the speed more than it currently does.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good No complaints about the handling – the Prius offers a comfortable ride and corners competently with minimal body roll.
Not so good The Prius feels heavy in the rear of vehicle (perhaps due to the large amount of batteries required to power the electric motor). There is a slight tendency for understeering at high speeds and tight cornering - but this is to be expected with this type of vehicle and a semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension setup.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good The Prius is a very attractive proposition to own: there's an 8-year warranty on Hybrid batteries and Toyota claim they will last 15 years without needing to be replaced. The i-Tech variant features leather trim, moonroof, LED headlights, reverse parking gadget and even a fan to keep the cabin cool powered by the solar panel in the roof! Most importantly you're doing your bit for the environment - and that's worth a lot.
Not so good The technology used in the Prius is relatively new so you’re probably stuck with Toyota service centres when it comes to servicing the vehicle... But then again, with this level of technology we wouldn’t want to take it to the local mechanic (and, Toyota is always updating the software used in the Prius!).