If you like not going to the petrol station, as well as transporting up to four passengers in comfort, buy a Prius. If you want something that’s reasonably spirited, and make a statement to people seeing you, without cutting a cheque for a six-figure sum, get a Prius.
On the surface, it may seem like you need a degree in computer science to decipher the LCDS all firing on the Prius, but it’s really not that difficult. All of the screens (save for the multimedia system) are pointed towards telling you the economy of the car at any one time. Average fuel usage is nestled next to the digital speedometer, while the odometer can be swapped out to display ‘distance until empty’ rather than a standard distance travelled.
The multi information display can provide you with all sorts of stats about the Prius’ running, including Advanced Climate Control air conditioning, which provides you with an Eco-Score on how the air conditioning affects your cars performance and the resulting increase in the Prius’ emissions to power it. At the end of your drive, it will give you a score on how efficient your driving behaviour on a particular trip, and give you a tip on how to improve and save even more fuel.
Smart features abound in the Prius, with Active Cruise Control with Lane Departure Alert and the above-mentioned multi information display giving helpful driving tips. Cynics of previous models accused the centrally mounted dash of being a cheap shortcut, so that Toyota can mount the steering wheel for both left- and right-hand drive markets with minimal extra cost to manufacture another dashboard. To silence these critics, the Prius’ now comes with a heads-up display (HUD) that projects speed and ‘eco driving range’ onto the windscreen in front of the driver. There is also wireless charging for Qi-compatible smartphones, just place your smartphone onto the charging pad in the centre console and it will be able to get it's juice without any cords or wires running across the cabin.
Space is great, with enough room for three adults across the backseat and ample room up front for both driver and passenger. The boot is roomy enough to take the weekly shopping, and all the backpacks and gym bags that inevitably end up in the car.
Fuel economy is, predictably, a strong point of the Prius. Officially, Toyota says that the Prius will do 3.4L/100km on a combination of highway and city driving, and in the real world – you’ll find yourself pretty close to that number. Obviously driving conservatively, and following all the directions that the on-board wizardry gives you will bring it down to the official number, but the difference is often negligible – especially if you do a lot of stop-start driving around town, where the electric motor will be doing most of the heavy lifting – leaving the petrol tank alone. All Prius’ come standard with an EV Mode, which can rely on the electric motor alone at low speeds with zero emissions, as well as an Eco Mode that limits rapid acceleration and reconfigures the climate system to reduce emissions and cut fuel use.
The Prius’ also has safety on lock, with standard features including electronic braking, pre-collision safety system, stability and traction control – all backed up by seven airbags in case of an emergency. While not yet tested in its current form, the previous model received a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating, and this updated model is expected to better that result – although this should be treated as a rough guide until the new model is fully tested by ANCAP.