The Prius is designed for negotiating the give-and-take traffic conditions of urban streets, where its hybrid drivetrain brings the greatest benefits. You can drive at up to 36mph using the electric motor alone; do so and there's no noise or vibration from the dormant engine, which makes for relaxed driving.
In reality, it's hard to drive so gently that the engine doesn't kick in, but when it does, it is suitably refined. Unless, that is, you accelerate hard, in which case the CVT gearbox makes the revs shoot up, bringing a distant booming noise from the engine bay. If you find this annoying then try a Hyundai Ioniq, which has a more conventional automatic gearbox.
Ride comfort is good in town – although the suspension can get a little noisy over lumps and bumps – and the steering is light enough at low speeds to make parking manoeuvres easy.
Venture out of town and the Prius acquits itself surprisingly well. Yes, it's short on pace, and there's quite a lot of body lean when cornering, but the steering is accurate and responsive, even if it doesn’t give you much feedback. The actual grip levels are pretty high, though. The brakes are suitably powerful but have a grabby action, meaning you can end up decelerating much more sharply than you intended. Other hybrids such as the Ioniq are easier to drive smoothly.
At steady motorway speeds, the engine is quiet, and emits nothing more than a faint drone when you ask for a little more speed. The ride remains relaxed, too, but while the Prius takes bumps in its stride, it does shuffle about a bit across small surface imperfections, and road noise is quite pronounced.