By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.9
As heir to the world's first mass-produced hybrid car, the 2014 Toyota Prius must fill some pretty big shoes. Luckily, the 5-door hatchback has all the help it needs, with brisk sales of the original car and an army of teammates including a plug-in model, a larger wagon variant and a smaller compact. All Prius models use the same powertrain technology that has become the benchmark for Toyota's hybrid cars: a fuel-efficient gas engine teamed to an electric motor. This setup allows the Prius to run solely on electric power for short distances, on gasoline for longer trips and a combination of the two when zipping around town or asking for more power. The result is exceptional fuel economy in an inexpensive, albeit bland, family car.
If you're looking for a hybrid with the best fuel economy, best reputation and best resale, the 2014 Toyota Prius is still the king.
If you're willing to sacrifice a few mpg in return for better style, more features and a sportier drive, the Ford C-Max, Honda CR-Z and Chevy Volt make tempting alternatives.
The Toyota Prius hybrid and plug-in hybrid remain unchanged for model year 2014.
Driving Impressions Because the transition between electric motor and gasoline engine is seamless, driving the 2014 Toyota Prius hybrid is a rather benign event. The Prius offers a choice of power modes...ranging from pure electric (EV) to performance mode (Power), or the most efficient use of both powertrains (Eco). Although the Prius can function purely in electric mode, it can do so only for a short time and at low speeds. Maximum efficiency exists in the Eco mode, which maximizes fuel economy, even shutting down the air conditioning at idle to save fuel. The plug-in version operates the same way only it can drive on pure electric at higher speeds, but just for about 11 miles. For those who like a challenge, the Prius can actually top its EPA estimates when driven conservatively by taking advantage of regenerative braking, avoiding hard acceleration and keeping speeds low.
SOLAR ROOF PACKAGE
The Solar Roof Package includes solar cells embedded just behind the moonroof. This feature helps keep the cabin cool by powering a small ventilating fan when the interior gets too hot.
We all like to save gas, but when needed we also like power to merge, pass and accelerate. Selecting the Power setting gives a bit more urgency to the Prius' forward motion, although it's not neck-snapping acceleration by any means.
The 2014 Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback features an interior as modern and different as its exterior. The contoured dash looks particularly handsome with its 2-tone panels, although on base models the gray-colored plastic and fabric look a little dull. The Prius' steering wheel incorporates a wheel-like control that operates the Touch Tracer Display controlling a number of fuel-usage and hybrid-operation displays on the Prius' LCD information screen. Plant-derived (and recyclable) plastic resins are used for the seat cushions and lower door panels.Exterior
There's no mistaking a Toyota Prius hybrid. The 5-door hatchback's familiar shape is not exactly head-turning, but it's clearly efficient and slippery. Even the car's wheel covers are aerodynamic. The roof's apex is pushed rearward, creating a slightly sporty appearance while simultaneously maximizing rear-seat headroom. Most models ride on 15-inch wheels, but the Prius Five has 17-inchers. Plug-in Prius models feature a port on the right side where the charging cable goes, while the left side has a traditional gas cap. Plug-in models also have a distinct grille, wheels, door handles and lights.
A 2014 Toyota Prius Two hybrid includes a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with air-conditioning controls and Touch Tracer Display, height-adjustable driver's seat, auto up/down on all windows, push-button start, two 12-volt power outlets, a 6.1-inch touch-screen audio display and Bluetooth. Trim levels Three through Five bring upgraded audio systems with Entune telematics, navigation, heated and power-adjustable driver's seat, 17-inch alloy wheels and energy-saving LED headlights and fog lights. The Plug-in Hybrid version comes as a base model with up-level features such as navigation, and as an Advanced version with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and a head-up display.
Several advanced safety systems are available for the top-of-the-line Prius Five, including Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, head-up display, the Pre-Collision System, Lane Keep Assist and Intelligent Parking Assist. All are offered in the Advanced Technology Package, which includes the Navigation Package. The optional power moonroof (Prius Three, Four) has solar-powered ventilation and remote-start air conditioning to help keep the vehicle cool. The dealer-installed Plus Performance accessory package adds a sport-tuned suspension with stiffer springs, ground effects, 17-inch lightweight alloy wheels, lower-profile tires, and a rear anti-roll bar.
The 2014 Toyota Prius hybrid is powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine mated mechanically and electronically to a 60-kilowatt electric motor, all working with a continuously variable transmission and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total hybrid system horsepower is 134. The Plug-in Hybrid model uses a higher-capacity lithium-ion battery that can be charged from any outlet for up to 11 miles of pure-electric operation. The Prius' EPA city/highway fuel economy rating is 51/48. Learn to manage the system, utilizing regenerative braking and the low-speed full EV mode whenever possible, and you can push actual mileage even higher. The Plug-in Hybrid has a rating of 51/49 mpg for standard hybrid operation, and 95 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) by the EPA's plug-in-hybrid formula.
1.8-liter inline-4 engine + electric motor
98 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
105 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
Motor: 80 horsepower/153 ft-lb of torque
Net output: 134 horsepower
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 51/48 mpg (hybrid), 51/49 mpg (Plug-in Hybrid)
The base 2014 Toyota Prius Two (One is a thinly equipped model for fleet purchases only) has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) right around $25,000. Each successive trim adds a couple thousand dollars, with the Prius Five coming in just under $31,000. Depending on trim level, an Advanced Technology and Navigation package, Plus Performance package and Plus Appearance package can be specified; a fully loaded Prius Five can top $40,000. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid comes in base form for around $31,000 or Advanced for another $4,750. To find out what the Prius is selling for in your area, check out KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price. The Prius has historically retained above-average resale value and we expect the 2014 to do the same.