Overview

Overview

With its excellent fuel economy, spacious back seat, large cargo area and high reliability rating, the 2013 Toyota Prius midsize hybrid appeals to buyers who want a versatile hatchback that also saves on gas. Besides the standard Prius, there's now a Prius Plug-In Hybrid, the Prius V wagon, and smaller Prius C hatchback.

What Experts Think

Automotive experts say that the 2013 Toyota Prius remains the quintessential hybrid, although newer rivals are hungrily nipping at its tires. Still, there's no doubt that Prius loyalists will continue to flock to the brand, as evidenced by the returning buyers who just have to have another Prius. Toyota broadened its reach by adding a Plug-In Hybrid, a Prius V wagon and smaller Prius C hatchback to the regular Prius hatchback lineup.

"If you want the best fuel economy in the hybrid field, the 2013 Toyota Prius is still king, with a 51/48 mpg rating for the standard car, 51/49 for the Plug-In, 53/46 for the Prius C and 44/40 for the Prius V." (Kelley Blue Book)

Consumer Reports finds the Prius "extremely economical, averaging 44 mpg overall, and 55 mpg on the highway." In addition, editors say the ride "is firm yet steady, and handling is sound and secure, yet not particularly agile." While the interior is deemed roomy, fit and finish is "just so-so and some controls take getting used to."

"Love it or hate it, the tall, wedge shape of the Prius has made it one of the most distinguishable cars on the road." (AOL Autos)

Edmunds observes that the sheen may be a bit off the Prius. "While the Prius still easily outclasses its chief rival, the Honda Insight, it's a harder sell against the new 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, which is nicer inside and more refined to drive." Editors also note that the latest hybrid midsize sedans, including Ford's 2013 Fusion Hybrid and Toyota's 2013 Camry Hybrid "are also impressively good."

"There are some compromises, namely in terms of acceleration, rear visibility, and a somewhat cheap-looking interior.... [But] these are fairly minor niggles given the car's decent ride, accommodating cabin, and exceptional cargo versatility." (Consumer Guide)

While it still represents the gold standard in terms of fuel efficiency, says Car and Driver, the Toyota Prius, which "offers high-tech gizmos galore... is the exact opposite of stylish and fun, unless you like to challenge yourself to daily fuel-economy contests."

Cars.com, writing about the 2012 Prius (which is essentially the same as the 2013), called it "an exceptionally efficient car at a relatively low price for people who care more about conservation than the act of driving."

What Owners Say

As might be expected, owners of the 2013 Toyota Prius are a fairly enthusiastic and loyal bunch. Posting on sites such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, Cars.com, AOL Autos, Yahoo Autos and more, owners have mostly compliments for the Prius.

Highlights include very good handling, light turning radius, comfortable, quiet, and roomier than expected, gas mileage exceeds what was predicted. Owners also like that maintenance is included for two years.

Minor gripes include the cost of parts for these cars (but reliability is good), the time it takes to learn how to use all the bells and whistles, and the mostly-silent running of the car (hard to get used to no engine sound).

Model/Trim Lineup

The 2013 Toyota Prius is a four-door hatchback that comes in five trim levels: Two, Three, Persona Series Special Edition, Four and Five. Note that the Prius Five is not the same as the Prius V, which is a wagon version that's larger than the Prius. Also in the Prius family is the Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the smaller Prius C hatchback.

Standard equipment on the Prius Two includes 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with controls for audio, climate and phone, remote keyless system plus Smart Key System on the driver's door with push-button start and remote illuminated entry, fabric-trimmed front seats, a six-way driver's seat and four-way front-passenger seat, 60/40-split fold-down rear seats with adjustable headrests. There is also a trip computer and Hybrid system indicator, Touch Tracer display, Display Audio, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD with MP3/WMA, USB port with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, two 12-volt power outlets, dual sun visors, cargo cover, power windows, retained power features, and Hill Start Assistance control.

Next up is Prius Three, which adds Navigation and Entune, enhanced Smart Key for three doors, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display with integrated rearview camera, and voice command controls located on the steering wheel. A solar-powered ventilation system is part of the optional solar roof package.

There's also the Prius Persona Series Special Edition, equipped similar to Prius Three but also has unique black and charcoal SofTex synthetic leather upholstery with red stitching, plus dark chrome interior accents and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Opt for the Prius Four and get SofTex-trimmed seats and steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, projector-beam headlights with auto on/off feature, HomeLink, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support, and JBL GreenEdge speakers with amplifier. Optional features include deluxe solar roof package with HDD premium navigation with Entune and Head Up display.

Prius Five swaps out for 17-inch alloy wheels and larger P213/45R17 tires, integrated fog lights, and LED headlights with headlight cleaners. The advanced technology optional package includes HDD premium navigation with Entune and Head Up display.

The Prius Plug-In Hybrid is equipped much like the Prius Two, including fabric-trimmed seats, but comes standard with navigation and Entune. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels are standard.

Prius Plug-In Hybrid Advanced gets the upgraded SofTex upholstery, HomeLink, dynamic radar cruise control, LED headlights, integrated fog lights, and premium HDD navigation.

Performance

Most of the automotive press agrees that the 2013 Toyota Prius, while not exactly a thrill to drive, is a champ at delivering ultra-high hybrid fuel economy. While it is true that the smaller Prius C achieves higher fuel economy, the regular Prius is nothing to complain about.

Acceleration is considered less than sprightly, but adequate for most buyers - at least those who are after the highest possible fuel economy in a midsize hatchback. The Prius offers four driving modes: Normal, Eco, Power and EV, to allow the driver to select the best powertrain configuration for existing driving conditions.

The Eco mode delivers the best fuel economy, while Power is handy for freeway entrance maneuvers or navigating hills. The EV mode, it should be noted, locks out the gasoline engine, but it only permits a maximum of 25 mph speed and needs a battery pack that's at least halfway charged.

The Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine matched with a pair of electric motor/generators. The combination produces a total output of 134 horsepower through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT).

EPA-estimated fuel economy is 51 mpg city/48 mpg highway/50 mpg combined.

The Prius Plug-In Hybrid model uses a higher-capacity lithium-ion battery that is chargeable from any outlet for up to 11 miles of electric-only operation. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 51 mpg city/49 mpg highway in regular hybrid operation, and 95 MPG3 (miles per gallon equivalent).

Interior

In the view of the testers, there are some pluses and some gripes about the interior of the 2013 Toyota Prius.

The good news: Controls are deemed straightforward and the floating console features a nice design that helps to maximize space in the cabin. Another smart design is the standard touchscreen that operates many of the car's high-tech features. The whole effect may be too busy for some drivers, say several reviewers.

On the other hand, the quality of the materials is disappointing, cheap, and hard, certainly not up to other cars in its price range. No matter what you think about corduroy, the corduroy-like texture that's on the audio and climate controls takes up oil from the skin, resulting in dark spots on them that are visible.

Where the Prius does shine is in terms of versatility. This hatchback provides greater cargo capacity than your typical midsize sedan with nearly 40 cubic feet with the rear seats dropped flat. The backseat also offers generous space. Under the floor of the cargo area is another two cubic feet of space in a tray that's handy for storing tools or laptops.

Go one level down and the Prius contains a compact spare tire.

Taller drivers may find the steering wheel placement too far away for comfort and, although there's a telescoping steering column, it doesn't extend far enough.

Auto critics don't much care for the excessive amount of road noise that intrudes on the cabin, no matter what speed is driven. Another comment is that the small gasoline engine sounds are hardly "sonorous."

Safety & Reliability

All 2013 Toyota Prius models come standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag.

The Prius Four and Five can be equipped with the Toyota Safety Connect emergency communications system. A pre-collision warning system and a lane-departure warning system are standard safety features on the Prius Five.

In government crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2013 Toyota Prius earned a five-star overall protection rating, including four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Prius its highest "Good" rating in frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests and named it a Top Safety Pick.

In terms of reliability, the 2013 Toyota Prius has a three and a half Power circle score in the J. D. Power Predicted Reliability rating. This means the Prius is between "About Average (three circles) and "Better Than Most" (four circles).

 

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Hatchback - FWD
Two 5dr HB Two (Natl) 4 Cylinder FWD 24200
Three 5dr HB Three (Natl) 4 Cylinder FWD 25765
Persona 5dr HB Persona (Natl) 4 Cylinder FWD 27130
Four 5dr HB Four (Natl) 4 Cylinder FWD 28435
Five 5dr HB Five (Natl) 4 Cylinder FWD 30005

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2013 Toyota Prius ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Toyota Prius rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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