"I truly love my Prius.. I have no major issues with this car. There are a few things you should consider before buying one (any year).
Child car seats make putting your seat all the way back difficult (mainly a rear facing infant seat). If you have two car seats, no one could sit in the middle of them comfortably. Two rear facing infant seats and you have to pull front seats all the way up for someone to get in to back middle seat.
The gas mileage IS great. It cost me $17.50 @ 1.79 a gallon to fill and I get about 38 to 41 MPG. I believe newer models are better MGP wise.
I have a 2002 and have had it for 6 years now. The black on the windows tends to get rusty, you have to take care of it. My paint is still great, interior so-so (I have children), and all controls inside still working. 108,000miles on it now.
Test drive it - Really! Hybrids make lots of noise when 'on' and if you are not use to them, it can scare you when they are 'off' at stop lights et.
Once you have one you will not want to lose it!!!"
"I agree with the other reviewers: this Prius is surprisingly roomy, and very reliable. The only downside is styling, there is nothing fancy about this car. Unless you consider the standard LCD screen, which most people riding in my car for the first time think is super high-tech. I've gotten an average of 36-42 MPG over the last 5 years, and I drive aggresively (hard starts and stops) and use the A/C a lot. The car has held it's value very well, and has spoiled me with everything I get to take for granted: riding in the carpool lane by myself, great gas mileage, no car repair bills, 6-CD in-dash player.
I love the tight turning radius, the few blind spots due to the generously-sized windows, the easy to read center-mounted digital speedometer, and the roomy cockpit."
"Short trips, long trips, it doesn't matter. It is a real joy to drive! New Goodyear tires at 30,000, slightly oversized, really make the car hug the road in turns. If you don't exceed speed limits your mileage is excellent but if you insist on driving 75 mph or more and you really start to take a mileage hit. Even with gas prices above $3.00 I find that I consistently spend only 8 cents per mile for fuel. I find that statistic much more useful than tracking MPG. Purchased new in 2003 - zero problems. Always do suggested maintenance."
"I bought this car new, just before the 2nd generation came out. Perhaps I should've waited a few months, because having a hatchback and all would be great. However, the 1st generation has done a brilliant job. I'm still getting 50 mpg and have had very few maintenance issues. Very very happy!"
Pros: "Great gas mileage, incredibly reliable, affordable"
Cons: "Gauge display in awkward place"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car in 2008 with 185K miles on the engine. I have now driven it multiple times across the country, from Virginia east coast to Kansas City, and it has been a dream. Catalytic converter light came on a few years after I bought it, but I never replaced it. I am just now having issues with cylinders misfiring, which could be a result of the catalytic converter going out. My gas mileage is still 40 mpg city, 35 with full AC/hwy. A/C compressor started to wear out a few years back (fixed now), and the actuator started going bad, but only after a breakin caused me to have to change the driver's side lock, handle, and window. Alarm system on it allowed me to stop two different breakins. Most reliable car I've ever owned. I don't think I will ever not own a Prius."
Cons: "Numb steering, cvt, potential for expensive repair"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fill in the blank above, but the Gen 1 Prius is great fun. There are multiple reasons to love the car, and no need to wonder why this brand continues 15 years later to dominate the hybrid market. The overall engineering design and computer integration of the hybrid system is awe-inspiring. Almost seamless transition back and forth between pure electric and engine-assisted operation. I smile when I hear people talk about 41 mpg. I averaged 54 to 65 mpg every tankful for 8 years. My girlfriend and son got as "low" as 48 mpg in Alaska on the hills to town and back. I guess their mpg results could be called the lower 48 !
I bought the car as a two (model year) old used car with 60k miles and drove until 140k miles in 8 years. 60k in less than 3 years by the original owner is a lot, and presumably were mostly highway.
Reliability - Look at the brand name. Great reliability is their norm. I did have the Big Red Light (serious hybrid system problem indicator - Don't Drive) illuminate at 99,000 miles. Dealer analyzed, reset system, no charge. Hybrid system warranty was 10 yr/ 100k. Extreme cold weather caused occasional problem codes which always went away within minutes. The car preferred Florida where I had bought it.
Economy - In town, it all depends on the driver. The system is great and a little effort can yield 30% to 50% better economy than EPA numbers. On the highway expect 110 mpg minus your speed; easy enough to figure, huh? (note: headwinds and tailwinds affect highway mpg at almost 1:1 ratio.) In town, anticipate the traffic and be smooth for 55 to 65 mpg. I understand that 2010 and later models have the modern equivalent of a vacuum gauge to aid in visualizing what's happening as a result of your accelerator foot technique. Not surprisingly, mine still had the ORIGINAL brakes at 140k.
Driving dynamics - Frankly, it is numb. Buy a second car if you want the race car kind of fun. Used [insert little Japanese 2-seater, if you get my drift] should do it for you.
Interior - the cloth interior must have had magic regenerative powers, too. Either that, or elves came and changed out the upholstery when I stored it for the winter. The folks who bought the 10 year old car from me commented that the seats and carpet looked new. I have no explanation for that. Quality shows over time,I guess.
I loved the car. Just bought another 2003 with only 80k miles this morning as a present for a college student. I'm hoping she will get as many smiles from her Gen 1 Prius as I did. And write her own review, but maybe not waiting 10 years to get around to it."
"I purchased this car new in 2002 and have put 186,000 miles on it at of January, 2012. It's MPG performance is great, though it has dropped a bit as the car aged. For the first 100,000 miles we averaged around 40 mpg (which is what it was rated); in the past two years this has dropped to around 34 -- higher in the summer, lower in the winter (we live in Buffalo, NY). It drives like a dream -- very tight turning circle, good acceleration, handles well on street or highway. It does require snow tires in the winter, however -- but with them it does just fine."
"I brought my 03 PRIUS used with 117k last year and have put over 30k miles in the last year, with the gas savings alone I could have practically bought another!! Obviously the design and comfort is not that of a luxury vehicle but the savings out weigh that in my book plus the green points you gain in others eyes make it just about as cool as driving a BMW:) or at least I feel that way!! It is small enough to fit in any parking spot and really pretty comfortable for a economy model. I bought this model because of all of the reviews of each year since the car was put into production it seemed like this one had the least reported problems. My mom also has an 03 Prius that she has put 420k miles (and still going!) on and literally never had to do anything other than oil changes and tires until 350k and since then she has put new brakes and about $300 worth of misc fixes so I feel like I will get my money out of my little guy!!"
"I own six vehicles and this is by far my favorite car. After 6 months to order and 7 years of ownership, I'm not ready to give it up...yet. Avg mileage city summer = 39. Avg mileage city winter = 41. Best highway mileage extended trip = 47. Longest trip between fillups = LA to Vegas and back."
"I leased this car new in 2003 and bought it once the lease was up. The first thing I had to do was learn to drive a little differently to get the most milage. The room inside is what surprises most people. Four large adults fit comfortably with plenty of leg room. Any problems I have had have been minimal and covered by warrenty. I don't want to ever give it up. I average 38 MPG in the winter and 45MPG in the summer."
"The Prius is a great car. Gas mileage only improved with additional miles (get almost 55 mpg at times).
However, between the additional initial cost of the vehicle, and the incredible costs of repairing ANYTHING hybrid related, you will NEVER make back the extra cost in gas savings.
As you continue to drive more miles, the hybrid components that need to be repaired and/or replaced keep increasing.
Have 300k miles on this one, and needs over $15k in repairs (new hybrid battery, etc.).
Buy a comparable Corolla for $6-8k, and between lower initial cost, and lower repair costs, you will save significant $$$ in the long run.
It's a pretty nice car otherwise. Though the 2001 is somewhat anemic in the "pep" department."
"The car handles well, accelerates quickly, has plenty of room for passengers and luggage. Visibility is good, reliability is great EXCEPT that in desert driving I had to replace the main battery once already three years ago and the replacement is needing to be replaced. Fortunately it's covered by the manufacturer's warranty.
The seat is not the most comfortable for long road trips, but is more than adequate for commuting to work.
I've driven the newer wedge-shaped models and still prefer my original classic Prius.
I love this car and highly recommend it!"
"I currently have 191,000 plus miles and the car has been terrific. I drive 80 highway miles daily to work and it has never put me down. Didnt change brake pads until 110,000 miles. Changed small battery twice and once under warranty. It recently started cutting off every 20 minutes of driving and discovered it was the main hybrid battery after taking it to 2 toyota dealers. The first dealer could not figure out the problem and after letting the car sit for a year at home i took it to a second dealer in memphis, tn and they discovered the main hybrid battery was bad. Spent a total of $3500 for the battery and labor it is running like a new car. I also had to change the 4 spark plug coil wires and plugs when the car had a miss in the motor. I thought for a minute that it was the motor going bad after spending all that money on the hybrid battery.However, I have put another 900 miles since and have had no more problems. I purchase a 2011 Prius during the time i let the 2002 sit a year in the driveway. It is the package 4 with leather and all the extras. However, I enjoy driving the 2002 within the city and to work!!!"
Pros: "Durability, gas mileage, comfort, ease of use"
Cons: "Tire wear, stability at higher speed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Our Prius is going on 10 years and we haven't had any major issue; on a new technology vehicle like first gen Priuses, it is pretty amazing.
Batteries were changed under warranty by Toyota and the car keeps on going with the same great gas mileage!"
"I wanted a comfortable, easy-to-own, high-mileage vehicle that made me feel good about my "carbon footprint." I bought this car in 2003 and have not had a minute's trouble with it. I have replaced only the battery and the tires (which I would do with any car) and it runs like a top. Still gets 46-48 miles/gallon. Great!"
"An excellent car all around. Get lower gas mileage than most since I live in SF and am always going up and down hills - range around 39 to 42 - if I do a lot of freeway driving it gets better mileage. The tires pick up nails easily. I figure it is a heavy car. I had a strange problem with the 'starter' battery as it lost juice when I left the car unused for over a week and a half. Other than these problems, it is a great car, easy to drive, good pickup, quiet. Can't work on it yourself. Low emissions. I have a 2003."
"I've driven my Prius 110,000 miles so far. I have not had a problem that required me to have any mechanic - be he the independent or Toyota dealer mechanic - look at my car. Now, that's good!
Normal maintenance is the same for this car as it is for any car; change transmission fluid, change coolant fluids (engine and inverter), brake fluid and that's it! Brake pads still have a long way to go before replacement.
The only thing that I have found odd: I have had to replace the tires twice. The original tires lasted 40k miles; the first replacements lasted 38k miles; the current tires have 29k miles and I estimate replacing them in another 20k miles.
My lifetime gas mileage is 46.5 mpg. This car is phenomenal! When the plug-in model is released, I plan to trade my 2002 Prius in for that model."
"I bought mine new in early 2003 and it has about 46,000 miles on it. Toyota recalled a computer and replaced mine for free, but I've never had a single problem with the car. Pickup is terrific and the turning radius is teeny. I also like having a sedan with a trunk. Plus I can get into the tiniest spaces that most other cars don't fit. The gas mileage isn't quite as good as the newer models. Around town I average about 39 to 42. I get better mileage on the highway - upper 40s. That's not what Toyata predicts, but it is what happens with mine. You'll never regret getting one!"
"I've been at the wheel of seven cars -- including an '04 Honda Civic and an '07 Acura TL -- and my '02 Prius is still my favorite car to drive! It's not fancy, but it doesn't have to be. It rides smoothly and comfortably at all speeds, handles tightly and stops on a dime when it has to. This car has had a couple of owners before me (according to Carfax) and it still looks like it just rolled out of the showroom. When people ask me what I dislike most about it, I say "the cup holders" because that's seriously my biggest complaint! (Be careful with your drinks...) I will probably drive this car until the wheels fall off, and even then, I'll just look forward to getting a brand new Prius."
"After just a few months with it I have put 3162 miles on it. My car is averaging at 40 mpg. I had previously owned an Accord. Now that I have my car I think I hate my Accord. Buy this car. GOOD JOB TOYOTA."
"This car has been trouble free. It is solid and has a high quality feel when driving. It is silent in steath mode and drives great. I get close to 50 mpg in normal driving, but if I try I can get mid to upper 50's mpg. The car has pletty of power due to the high torque from the electric motors. The CVT transmission does not shift like most cars, adding to how smooth and quite this car is. It is hard to go wrong with a Toyota."
mpg winter: 42ish, mpg summer 49ish
great visibility due to window configuration
room for four tall adults
turns on a dime
The not so good:
not great on winter roads w/ stock tires
stock tires-Bridgestone Potenza wear fast
requires minute steering corrections
center console arm rest too low
cupholder in back seat is an afterthought
Despite its idiosynchracies, we love our Prius. It's easy to drive in the city due to its size and turning radius etc. We had an electrical drivetrain issue but it was completely covered under warranty and no problems since."