IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:

It would be a fine midsize car even if it didn’t get 50 mpg.

BUT…

There are few stand-alone options—and none for the lower trim levels—so getting a feature you want might mean moving to a pricier trim level.

WORTH NOTING:

The Plug-In version is claimed to be able to go about 11 miles just on electricity before the gas engine kicks in.

WHAT IS IT?

Prius essentially homogenized the gas/electric hybrid vehicle into the American automotive landscape. Today, Toyota sells three main versions of this 4-door, 5-passenger car: the “traditional” compact hatchback discussed here, the subcompact Prius c hatchback, and the larger, midsize Prius v wagon. Toyota also offers a plug-in version of the hatchback. Regular Prius hatchbacks are offered in II, III, IV, and V trim levels; the plug-in version comes in Base or Advanced trim levels.

WHAT’S NEW?

The Prius sees no significant changes for 2014, in anticipation of a redesigned model that is set to debut for the 2015 model year.

FUEL ECONOMY

Prius’ EPA-estimated fuel economy is 51 city/48 highway. In Consumer Guide® testing, Prius II and V models averaged 49.6-51.9 mpg. Prius uses regular-grade gas.

VALUE IN CLASS

The Toyota Prius is a fine compact car that just happens to achieve some of the best fuel economy we’ve ever experienced. There are some compromises, namely in terms of acceleration, rear visibility, and a somewhat cheap-looking interior. In the grand scheme, these are fairly minor niggles given the car’s decent ride, accommodating cabin, and exceptional cargo versatility. Our top Prius picks are the II, III, and IV models, which offer most every feature buyers could want at very aggressive prices.

BASE PRICE RANGE $24,995 – $40,320
BODY STYLES 4-Door Hatchback
AVAILABLE ENGINES 134-HP, 1.8-liter 4-Cyl./Electric
DRIVE WHEELS Front
BUILT IN Japan
EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE 48-51 MPG

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