What's the used Toyota Prius hatchback like?
By the time the third generation of Toyota Prius emerged in 2009, the Japanese brand was firmly established as the leader in hybrid vehicles, with more than a million examples already sold.
For this third-generation Prius, Toyota sought to improve driveability as well as economy, which resulted in the petrol engine growing from 1.5 to 1.8 litres so that it didn’t need to work as hard. Additionally, around 90% of the hybrid system was also new. Total power increased more than 20% to 134bhp, fuel economy on the EU Combined cycle rose to a maximum 72.4mpg and CO2 emissions fell to 89g/km.
As a first for a Prius, the driver can also choose between one of three driving modes, with Eco softening the response of the accelerator to help eke out every possible mile per gallon, while Power provides maximum performance and EV forces the car to run in its electric setting where possible. This remains only for short distances (the official claim is 1.2 miles) and at speeds up to 31mph.
One of the unexpected pleasures of the Prius remains how spacious it feels inside, particularly considering the amount of technology within. A flat floor in the rear helps three adults to fit reasonably comfortably and, although it has a high floor, the boot is still larger than you’ll find in a Volkswagen Golf.
Whether or not you enjoy driving a Prius depends very much on how fast you want to go. Those happy with gentle acceleration and who spend most of their time in a town or city centre should find it an agreeable if slightly firm riding companion.
However, venture on to faster roads or accelerate to join a motorway and the way the CVT gearbox causes the engine revs to soar is not terribly pleasant, while the vague steering and seats that lack side support ensure it’s about as much fun on your favourite B-road as being stuck behind a tractor.
The third-generation Prius was also noteworthy for introducing Toyota’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in 2012, along with a mild facelift of the standard car. With a pure electric range of up to 14 miles when fully charged, the Prius PHEV is a useful – if expensive – addition to the range. Additionally, a seven-seat Prius+ was also launched, no doubt much to the delight of the many private-hire taxi drivers who had already been enjoying the tiny running costs that come with Toyota’s hybrid.