The 2015 Toyota Prius remains the quintessential hybrid car and a solid all-around choice, though other, newer hybrids are more enjoyable to drive.
One of the most identifiable cars on the market, the Toyota Prius has pretty much become synonymous with the word "hybrid." And with good reason -- not only has it been a pioneer but also by far the most popular hybrid in terms of sales. But a lot of new hybrids have come out in recent years, so it's right to wonder how the 2015 Toyota Prius continues to hold up.
Well, if it's fuel economy you're looking for, the Prius will still be your huckleberry. With an EPA combined estimate of 50 miles per gallon, you won't find another competing hybrid that can match it. Also in the Prius' favor: it's reliable, easy to drive around town and spacious thanks to the hatchback design. The backseat is large enough for full-size adults and there's a lot of cargo space, especially with the rear seats folded flat. With five different trim levels, there's a wide variety of available features, too -- options range from touchscreen navigation to styling and suspension tweaks. From plain to flashy, you can equip a Prius any way you'd like, but it will remain frugal between visits to the pump. \u00a0
The Prius definitely has an edge when it comes to mileage, but otherwise, it's a bit basic. The interior feels a little low buck, with lots of hard plastic on the dashboard and door panels. It is a bit noisy, too, with noticeable wind and tire noise making their way into the cabin. And although a fun driving experience probably isn't at the top of your list if you're interested in a Prius, know that acceleration is slow and even with the sport-tuned suspension the Prius isn't as entertaining to drive as some rivals. Those rivals can offer nearly similar mileage along with some added panache. The 2015 Ford C-Max is a good example as it's more refined and enjoyable to drive. If you want something bigger, there are several midsize hybrid sedans available including the 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid, the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid and the 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid. Each has their own virtues, but in general they all feel more substantial and more like a normal car than the Prius. Overall, though, the 2015 Toyota Prius deservedly remains a go-to choice for hybrid intenders.
The 2015 Toyota Prius is a five-passenger, four-door hatchback available in five trim levels: Two, Three, Persona Series, Four and Five. The larger Prius V and the compact Prius C are covered in separate reviews.
Standard equipment on the Prius Two includes 15-inch alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, cruise control, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60\/40-split folding rear seat, an advanced trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod\/USB audio interface.
The Prius Three gains an enhanced keyless entry system, a navigation system, voice controls, satellite radio, HD radio and Toyota's Entune system, which includes real-time information (traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores) and the ability to use apps like Pandora, iHeart Radio and Open Table via a connection with your smartphone.
The Persona Series gets the Three's equipment plus 17-inch alloy wheels, additional chrome trim, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, footwell illumination and leatherette upholstery.
With the Prius Four you get the Three's equipment as well as automatic headlights, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker JBL sound system.
The Prius Five adds unique 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights and LED headlights.
An optional Solar Roof package for the Prius Three adds a sunroof and a solar-powered ventilation system that keeps the car cool while parked to limit the burden on the air-conditioning system. It's also offered for the Four, and then includes a head-up display, Safety Connect emergency communications and an upgraded navigation system with a 7-inch high-definition display and split-screen capability.
The Five can be equipped with an Advanced Technology package, which adds adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision alert system, a lane-departure warning system, Safety Connect, a head-up display and the aforementioned higher-quality navigation display.
Also available for the Prius are the Plus Appearance and Plus Performance packages. The former adds 17-inch wheels and an aerodynamic body kit while the latter package also features a sport-tuned suspension.
Acceleration in the Toyota Prius is far from sprightly, but it should be adequate for most buyers. Four driving modes -- Normal, Eco, Power and EV -- allow the driver to choose the optimum powertrain configuration depending on conditions. Eco is measured and sluggish, but returns the best fuel economy. Power is useful for entering freeways or driving on hills. EV mode locks out the gasoline engine, but allows only a maximum speed of 25 mph and requires at least a half-charged battery pack.
Around town, the Prius is an easy-to-drive runabout. The steering doesn't provide much feedback, but it makes the car effortless to maneuver in parking lots without feeling overly light at highway speeds. The ride is generally comfortable, but nastier bumps can upset the suspension and disturb the car's occupants. There is also an excessive amount of road noise that permeates the cabin regardless of speed. Moreover, the noises emitted by the Prius' small gasoline engine under hard acceleration are not what we'd describe as sonorous.
The 2015 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a pair of electric motor\/generators. Together they send a total output of 134 horsepower to the front wheels through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT).
In track testing, the Prius accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.2 seconds; that's about the same as the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, but a few seconds slower than the C-Max Hybrid and about three seconds slower than most hybrid midsize sedans. The EPA estimates that the 2015 Prius will return a very impressive 50 mpg combined (51 mpg city\/48 highway). In real-world testing, we've found these estimates reasonably accurate.
Every 2015 Toyota Prius comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. A rearview camera is also standard.
Optional on the Prius Four and Five is Toyota's Safety Connect emergency communications system, which includes emergency and roadside assistance, collision notification and stolen vehicle location. The Prius Five is also eligible for the Advanced Technology package which includes a frontal-collision warning system and a lane-departure warning system.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Prius came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet, which is a few feet longer than average.
In government crash tests, the Prius received four stars (out of a possible five) for overall protection, with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Prius the highest possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test and a second-best "Acceptable" rating for the small-overlap frontal-offset impact test. The Prius received a "Good" score for the remaining side impact, roof strength and whiplash protection (seats and head restraints) tests.
The 2015 Toyota Prius features straightforward controls that jut out toward the driver in a "floating console" that provides a storage tray underneath. It's stylish and also helps maximize cabin space. The digital instrument panel features a floating layer that displays audio, temperature and trip computer information when the driver touches those controls on the steering wheel, minimizing eye movement. Some drivers might find the overall design a bit cluttered, however. Potentially more irksome though, is the lack of useful range provided by the telescoping steering wheel, which doesn't extend far enough to reach some drivers.
The standard touchscreen operates many of the Prius' high-tech features and is, for the most part, smartly designed. The optional Entune system can be a hassle, though, since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account; plus, you always need an active data connection to use it.
Materials quality in the Prius is also disappointing, with harder and cheaper plastics than other cars in its price range. The corduroylike texturing on the climate and audio controls seems nice at first, but it collects oil from the skin and causes circular dark spots on most buttons.
However, the Prius remains highly versatile. The hatchback body style provides considerably more cargo capacity than a typical midsize sedan, and the backseat offers plenty of space for passengers.
Superior fuel economy; abundant backseat room; spacious cargo area; comfortable ride; available high-tech options.
Disappointing interior materials; elevated amounts of road noise; slow acceleration; cluttered gauge cluster, awkward driving position for some.