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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Safe, practical family car with high-tech interior and low emissions

Against You’ll struggle to match the claimed mpg

Verdict Proves that going green doesn’t have to be dull

Go for… 1.5 T3

Avoid… 1.5 T Spirit

Toyota Prius Hatchback
  • 1. Some engines have been reported to stop and then not start again
  • 2. Cockpit has high-tech feel and is solidly made
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Toyota Prius Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The second-generation Prius is more practical with the four-door saloon body of the previous car ditched in favour of this five-door hatchback. True, the boot is not massive, but it can be expanded by folding down the rear seats. And, when those seats are upright, they provide plenty of room for six footers.

As with the previous Prius, you can go green without having to make any sacrifices. The car's low emissions will help you do your bit for the environment and the hybrid electric/petrol powerplant is easy to live with.

The performance is lively enough and fine on A-roads. Unlike its predecessor, this Prius copes well enough with motorway hills, and the ride and handling are on a par with conventional-engined rivals.

Inside, it's all suitably high-tech, which some people will love, but others may take a while to figure out. For instance, there are a total of 16 controls for the stereo, air-con and other functions on the steering wheel.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Improved dynamics over the old model, but still the same scary technology

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There are three diferent trim levels to choose from, and even the base T3 comes with excellent safety kit. Eight airbags are standard, as are anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and Toyota’s vehicle stability control. Climate control, all-round electric windows, a CD player and electric windows are also part of the standard package.

Step up to T4 and you get cruise control, front foglamps and a six-disc CD autochanger. The T-Spirit is the top version and gets a sophisticated sat-nav system complete with voice control and a Bluetooth interface to hook up to your mobile phone.

We’d go for the entry-level spec. The used car section of your local dealer is a good place to start looking.

Trade view

James Ruppert

A hit in urban areas and basic T3 spec is enough to make a sale

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Prius's official 65.7mpg fuel economy looks fantastic and compares very favourably with rivals. Toyota’s excellent 2.0 D-4D turbodiesel, found in the Corolla, returns 49.6mpg while Honda’s 1.3i-VTEC petrol/electric hybrid Civic claims 61.4mpg.

However, it’s not all quite as sweet as it sounds. As with any car, obtaining the official claimed mpg is near to impossible and if you can get mid-50s mpg you’ll be doing very well indeed.

Also disappointing is the fact that insurance, at group 8, is pricier than what you’ll pay to cover the Corolla or the Civic. However, the big drawback as the miles begin to mount will be the cost of replacing the Prius’s very expensive battery. At least you have the assurances of the 100,000 mile, eight-year powertrain warranty.

At least, the Prius will prove cheaper to service than its aforementioned rivals, although remember you will have to take it to an official Toyota dealer.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Improved dynamics over the old model, but still the same scary technology

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There are unlikely to be any problems with interior trim. Not only does this second-generation Prius feels as well screwed together as any Toyota, satisfaction surveys indicate that owners are happy with the build quality.

There have, however, been issues with engines, although this seems to have primarily affected models in the USA rather than the UK. The 1.5-litre petrol engine has been reported to stall and then refuse to start. Toyota traced this fault to unreliable engine software and recalled and rectified the problem cars.

Cars in the UK were recalled over an issue with the rear brake light, which could cause it to malfunction. Full details are available on the Vehicle and Operator Safety Authority website at www.vosa.gov.uk.

Finally, beware of cars used as company pool machines for councils and other fleets that may not have been too well cared for.

Trade view

James Ruppert

A hit in urban areas and basic T3 spec is enough to make a sale

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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