Toyota Prius: used car buying guide

  • Go green with the Prius
  • From prices to problems
  • Follow our used car buying guide
Words By What Car? Staff

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Toyota Prius
Price range: 7595-12,845
Years: 2003 2009
You'll like: Environmental image
You won't: Not suited to motorways

Hybrids don't get much more high-profile than this but the Prius is also a great choice as a family car, and it won't break the bank to run, either.

What's it like?
The Toyota Prius proves that going green doesn't have to be a compromise. It won't cost the Earth to run, yet it's spacious, easy to drive and reliable.

An improvement on the original Prius (2000-'03), it wasn't the first hybrid to go on sale, but it put alternative-power cars in the public eye, and became the one celebrities and MPs had to be in.

The big cabin will take five at a pinch. The boot isn't huge, but it's a good shape and easy to load.

What to watch out for...

Click below to see what you should look out for when buying a used Toyota PriusClick below for areas to look out for:
1 2 3 4

Which one should I get?
There's only one engine and bodystyle available, and a CVT automatic gearbox is standard, so you've only got to decide on the trim. Each one is well equipped, and the entry-level T3 model gets alloy wheels, climate control, eight airbags, electric windows all round and a CD player.

T4 models come with fog lights, a CD multichanger and an upgraded stereo, while T Spirit adds satellite-navigation. Some used models have the optional leather interior and Bluetooth fitted.

Running costs
The Prius is best suited to urban stop-start driving, not high-speed motorway miles. Some owners struggle to match the official fuel economy figures, with 44-50mpg rather than the claimed 65.7mpg.

With CO2 emissions of only 104g/km, you'll currently pay just 15 a year for road tax, and you don't need to pay the Congestion Charge in London. Insurance ranges from group seven to eight.

Toyota dealers generally cost more than other franchised dealers, but know how to look after this high-tech car. It comes with an eight-year manufacturer's warranty, and the Prius has a good record for reliability it was the top car in the 2008 JD Power customer satisfaction survey.

Toyota Prius buyer's file...

Scroll down for information.

The Toyota Prius is not as common as the Ford Focus, but there are plenty of Priuses on the used market if you know where to look for them.

Nearly all are with traders, but some try to cash in on the car's popularity don't pay over the odds. Prices are high compared with conventional cars', but it should hold its value well.

You should be looking to spend about 7700 at an independent dealer for an 04-plate T3 model with 60,000 miles on the clock, and around 9500 for an 06-plate T3 with under 30,000 miles at a car supermarket.

Top of the range T Spirit models will cost you a premium of 600-900.

Or try a...
If you're in the market for an environmentally friendly car, but you can't find the right Toyota Prius, you may want to also consider the Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion, or the Honda Civic Hybrid. Both will help the planet. Here are the details...