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2018 Toyota Prius Overview
Since its first generation in the late 1990s, the Toyota Prius has gone from a vehicular novelty to becoming ubiquitous on the open road. These hybrids have become an icon and the standard-bearer of the green-car genre. Beyond high fuel-economy ratings, the Prius offers serious practicality, composed driving characteristics, and a long list of standard features that make it an ideal commuter car.
In its fourth generation, the 2018 Prius remains largely unchanged from previous model years. One striking new option is an 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Past generations of the Prius have had rather staid, conservative styling, but the fourth-generation Prius is the boldest take since it adopted the jellybean-like body style. For this model, aerodynamics are optimized further, but certain design elements steal attention from the overall shape. The headlights are like a piece of modern art, and the C-pillar exiting into the trunk tricks the eye into thinking it looks more like a sedan.
The interior, while conventionally styled, remains distinctly “Prius.” The contrast of white plastic panels on black conjures up the idea of an iPad on wheels. As with past models, the instrument panel of the Prius is in the center of the dash, rather than in front of the driver. While some find this distracting, the design is straightforward with large, easy-to-read fonts. An optional head-up display projects vehicle speed and other information onto the windshield in front of the driver.
Like the simplicity of its design and purpose, Toyota offers the Prius in trims One, Two, Three, and Four. The Two is also offered in the Eco sub-trim, and the Three and Four both offer “Touring” sub-trims.
The base model Prius One comes standard with 15-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with wheel covers, remote keyless entry, projector LED headlights, reversing camera, USB port, and Bluetooth smartphone connectivity. This makes it an incredibly well-equipped base model.
The Prius Three adds Qi-compatible smartphone charging system, Entune (a premium audio system with integrated navigation), and Toyota’s suite of connected apps.
The Three Touring trim upgrades to 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, a more refined suspension, fog lights, and SofTex-trimmed seats with contrast stitching.
The Prius Four features the upgraded 11.6-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, color head-up display, blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Topping the range, the Four Touring offers upgraded Touring suspension refinements, JBL premium audio system, 17-inch alloy wheels, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The core of the Toyota Prius is its hybrid drivetrain. It starts with a 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, combined with an integrated assist electric motor and an electric traction motor. Electric energy is stored in a nickel metal-hydride battery pack, or, in the case of the Eco trim, a lithium-ion battery pack.
The Prius sends power through a continuously variable transmission and its hybrid layout to the front wheels. The Prius shifter layout differs from other Toyota models, but it is similar to past iterations of the Prius, so return buyers will feel right at home.
The Toyota Prius returns fuel economy of 50 mpg city, 54 highway, and 52 combined. The Prius Eco’s fuel economy numbers improve to 58, 53, and 56.
Fuel efficiency is expected on the Prius, but its responsive driving characteristics are surprising. The Prius features double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. Prius Three Touring and Four Touring include unique suspension tuning for a further refined ride.
Standard safety features on the Toyota Prius include a reversing camera, a full array of front and side impact airbags, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring system, and the LATCH child seat anchoring system.
The Prius also comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, a suite of high-tech safety gear. This includes forward collision warning and avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is optional on most trims, but standard on the Prius Four and Four Touring.
Pricing for the 2018 Toyota Prius starts at $23,475.
Driving a fuel efficient car doesn’t require sacrifice. From its bold exterior styling to its spacious interior and refined driving characteristics, the 2018 Toyota Prius goes well beyond delivering fuel-efficient daily driving. It is a hybrid that continues to embody the future of motoring.
From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.
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