By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
The Toyota Prius, now in its third generation, derives its name from the Latin word meaning "to go before." And, while the name is certainly fitting – the Prius is the world's first mass-produced and best-selling hybrid car, after all – it no longer carries the original car's quirky, new-age image. The 2011 Prius has gone from eco-novelty commuter to the vehicle of choice for those desiring to spend less on fuel and more on comfort and versatility. Not only has the Prius invaded the garages of empty-nester across America, it has become a catalyst for prodding other manufacturers to enter the hybrid arena. Interestingly, while cars like the all-electric Nissan LEAF can't travel as far as the Prius, plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt certainly look to give the Prius a run for its money.
With EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy ratings of 51/48 mpg, the Prius' fuel efficiency is unmatched in its class. Solo drivers will like that, in some states, the Prius is allowed full-time access to the commuter lanes.
Those who are turned off by the Prius' hatchback design may be happier with more conventional hybrids such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid or Toyota Camry Hybrid. Those who don't mind a hatchback but want to save some money might consider the less expensive Honda Insight.
A low-cost entry level Prius I is added for 2011.
Driving Impressions Driving the 2011 Toyota Prius is a remarkably quiet experience because the transition between electric motor and gasoline engine is nearly seamless (but most noticeable while at idle). "EV, "Eco"...and "Power" buttons allow the driver to exercise a little more control over fuel consumption and throttle response, a welcome change from the previous generation's one size fits all setup. Depress the "EV" button and the Prius operates solely under electric power (speed and distance permitting.) Switch to the "Power" button, and you'll get more lively throttle response with acceleration more akin to a regular gas-powered four-cylinder vehicle. In "Eco" mode, the computer modifies the throttle response so that no matter how lead-footed or determined a driver may be, the vehicle won't rapidly accelerate. This mode also affects the air conditioning operation and shuts it off when the vehicle is left idling. In our time behind the Prius' wheel, no matter what mode we were in, our fuel economy numbers easily surpassed the posted EPA figures without much effort.
Solar Roof Package
Thanks to the solar cells mounted on top, the Solar Roof Package nets you a power moonroof that self-ventilates to help keep the car at a constant temperature. Additionally, a button on the key fob allows the air conditioning to be remotely started for up to three minutes, providing the batteries are fully charged.
Although the Prius is a lean, green, gas-saving machine, sometimes a little more power is warranted. For those situations, putting the car into Power mode gives you some extra oomph to get where you need to go.
Thoroughly modern in every way, the Prius' contoured dash is imprinted with a "swirl" pattern of sorts complimenting the car's available two-tone color scheme. The steering wheel is fitted with Touch Tracer Display "wheels" that control a variety of fuel usage displays on the vehicle's information display screen. These touch-sensitive buttons can be used to control the car's air conditioning, information screens, radio volume and station settings. Because the information is displayed directly in the information cluster, the driver no longer needs to look away from the road to make adjustments. Environmentalists will be pleased to know the Prius' cabin uses a number of ecologically sound materials, including plant-derived (and recyclable) resin plastics for the driver's-side seat cushion and lower door panels.Exterior
Fresh from a complete redesign last year, the 2011 Prius continues the aerodynamic profile displayed by the second generation car, but with a more refined, upscale look. New energy efficient measures include available LED taillights and sharper edges for improved coefficient of drag (the measure of how easily a car slips through the air). The base Prius models ride on 15-inch wheels, but buyers wanting a sportier-looking hybrid can opt for the Prius V and its 17-inchers. In a move to increase rear seat headroom, Toyota designers have moved the roof's apex rearward, creating a windswept profile that adds a decidedly sporty flair to this economically minded car.
A nicely equipped 2011 Toyota Prius I includes a wide variety of standard features, including a tilt/telescopic 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 tonneau cover, and auxiliary input jack. The Prius II adds keyless entry with Smart Key, MP3 compatible CD player and a rear window wiper. Moving up to the Prius III adds an upgraded JBL AM/FM/CD changer with satellite radio, Bluetooth and eight speakers, while the Prius IV trim is enhanced with a leather interior, heated front seats with driver's lumbar support and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The top-of-the-line Prius V adds 17-inch alloy wheels and energy-saving LED headlamps and foglamps.
A number of advanced safety systems are available for the top-of-the-line Prius V, including Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, the Pre-Collision System, Lane Keep Assist and Intelligent Parking Assist; all offered in the Advanced Technology Package - which includes the Navigation Package. Techno-savvy Prius shoppers will likely be interested in the optional power moonroof with solar-powered ventilation and remote air conditioning operation to help keep the vehicle cool.
The 2011 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine matched with an electronically-controlled continuously-variable transmission. It is rated at 98 horsepower. The total hybrid system horsepower (gasoline engine and electric motor combined) for 2011 is 134 horsepower. The 2011 Prius' fuel economy ratings of 51 city/48 highway can be pushed even higher when utilizing the full EV mode.
1.8-liter in-line 4 with 60-kilowatt Permanent Magnetic Synchronous Electric Motor Atkinson Cycle Hybrid
98 horsepower @ 5200 rpm (gasoline engine); 80 horsepower (electric motor); 134 hp net total hybrid system
105 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm (gasoline engine); 153 ft.-lb. of torque (electric motor)
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 51/48
By John F. on Monday, March 02, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"This is first and last Prius. It gets terrific mileage in the non-Winter months (45 mpg plus). It get fair mieage in the Winter (30-35 mpg) due to the engine running a lot to keep the heat warm. Also, have had two issues: one with the hybrid system and one with the engine. The Toyota dealer guesses at the cause and solution - not encouraging. We will be looking at a Honda Civic should these issues persist and for our next vehicle."
By Mochi2012 on Sunday, March 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas price"
Cons: "blind spots and low bottom"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I am a Toyota loyalist. After 10 years of my Toyota RAV4, I swore I needn't look at anything but Toyotas ever again. Now after 3 years with a Prius, I am revising that vow. The Prius does save money on gas ... not the 50 mpg it claims ... usually more like 41-2. Not bad, but not as advertised. Worst, though, is that the Prius has terrible blind spots. I tell all my friends never to cross left to right in front of a Prius; the driver cannot see you. I can't tell you how many times I have almost hit a pedestrian. Other Prius drivers complain of this too. In addition, compared to the higher RAV4, the Prius scrapes bottom if there's the slightest uphill grade in a driveway. I wish Toyota would make the RAV4 a hybrid."
9 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Lesllie on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "I like the color and mileage"
Cons: "way too many to list. See the review for details"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Worst purchase I've ever made in my life. I paid a lot of money for this new car. It is a cheaply constructed car. Seems that Toyota cuts corners in construction to make the car lighter so it gets better mileage. There are so many rattles, buzzes, and shaking noises, all the time, literally. I've stopped taking it to the dealer to try and fix, after taking it in FIVE times to fix one glove compartment area rattle. This car has tremendous road noise. Definitely noisier than the 1997 Honda Accord, which I thought was pretty noisy. I can't stand the hatchback. You have to manually open and close it; no release button. So unless your car is clean all the time, your hands (or gloves) get dirty. I always stored a lot of stuff in the trunk of my previous cars. To hide anything in the Prius hatch area, you have to pull the cover and hook it. The vertical height with the cover on is pretty short. You can’t put a daypack in vertically; has to be laid down. Shopping bags barely fit. The bottom portion of the hatch window gets so dirty so fast. You have to manually wipe it to clean it; gas station wipers don't work. And "drive-through" car washes don't dry it. The windshield wiper on the upper portion of the hatch window only lifts up an inch or so. That makes it rather difficult to clean the outer portion of the window. The bar in middle of the hatch window obstructs the view. I actually feel unsafe driving sometimes, if the window is a bit dirty—and it doesn’t take much for it to get dirty enough to affect seeing out of it. You cannot adjust the rearview mirror for night driving. Supposedly it “auto” adjusts. Well, if your eyes are light sensitive as mine are, forget it. So I have bright headlights in my rearview mirror all the time. Want to listen to your fancy schmancy radio? Just try it! The dealer told me it’s a well-known issue for the Prius that the radio reception fades in and out a lot, and there is no fix for it. I live in a large metro area and it happens all the time. My Honda never had a problem with radio reception. I bought the very expensive extra package so I could have a sunroof. Mistake! The sunroof, when open at any distance, is so noisy! I’ve had sun roofs in all my cars and this is the noisiest. I rarely use it. I have never used the extra HD stuff that comes with the package. So, a total throwaway. Front window all fogged up? Well, wait 5 minutes for it to clear up enough to drive safely, with the defrost blasting at full speed. Literally, I have sat multiple times in a bus park and ride lot, at 11pm for 5 minutes before I could see enough to drive. The windows fog up way more easily than any other car I’ve driven. No idea why. Very frustrating. I typically drive with the rear defrost on, because otherwise the rear window tends to fog up. I’m the only person in the car. Shouldn’t fog up like that, especially when it’s not raining or humid. And why does Toyota think that I want the front defrost to always go on full blast??? If I don’t want that, I have to be ready to push the down arrow on the air volume to stop it at the level I want. I generally don’t need the defrost at full blast (except as noted above). The front end is so low to the ground, it doesn’t clear a lot of parking lot space curb dividers. I’ve given up trying to not scratch it."
By LovePrius on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, save gas"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have own so many cars, Honda, Ford, Acura, Mazda, Scion, Toyota highlander , Camry, and this is the best car I have ever had, love it, should have bought them years ago, could have save over $$$$$ just in gas. Great single or family car. not for racing."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By VAJEFF on Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive and makes me feel good."
Cons: "Still thinking....."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After 3 years of lease time I was looking forward to the purchase today. I loved a Corolla many years ago and a couple Camry's since then, but it's such a good feeling to cruise down the road, relatively smooth and quiet, and knowing that this car is being pushed along with only a gallon of gasoline per 50 miles or more. It's not a racecar and wouldn't do well at the track, but I'm not a topnotch driver and enjoy curves not necessarily on a country road. Nothing wrong with that, but the Prius is a good car, woth the investment...so far."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Chad on Sunday, February 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,900overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very reliable and low maint."
Cons: "Hard for a larger person to ride in it comfortablE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned three generation of prius and I have been very pleased with reliability and resale value, I'm getting ready to buy a 2015, maybe, this 2010 was fully load with solar and roof,but it has not retained the value of the additional cost, so maybe. The 1999 I had 142,000 on, 2004 I had 152,000 this one is a 2010 with 70,800 I will say that I don't believe the solar roof was worth all the extra exp, I do like the sunroof all though it is small."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful