Jeff Mitchell

Toyota’s Prius Limited remains a go-to winner

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Beach Wheels

By Jeff Mitchell

The Toyota Prius has been happily rolling down American roads since its introduction in 1997.

The pioneering hybrid gas-electric has been safely delivering people where they want to go and doing it while registering phenomenal mileage ever since.

I remember driving a friend’s Prius that year and being blown away by it. Short of wings, it was if I was driving something out of the Jetsons. It was high technology personified. So quiet. So nimble. It took curves on rails.

Now, some 23 years after Prius’ arrival on our shores, I had the opportunity to spend a week driving the vehicle again and I can tell you that I remain blown away.

My tester, which came in a fun “Supersonic Red,” was in the “Limited” top of the line trim level. Since I first drove it in 1997, Toyota has freshened the Prius with a number of subtle design changes including most recently a new front bumper design and new, cleanly designed headlamps and taillights.

My Prius came sitting on aggressive-looking 17-inch steel alloy wheels.

In the roomy cabin, you’ll find tasteful brightwork which includes piano-black accents around the shifter, steering wheel, and center console.

The seating surfaces in my tester were covered in Toyota’s SofTex material and came with heated front seats with 8-way power adjustment.

The back seating area has remained surprisingly spacious and is comfortable for two full-sized adults. Fold the seatbacks down and you’ll open up a sprawling 62.7-cubic-foot cargo bay with a nice low floor deck for greater accessibility.

Upfront, you’ll find an 11.6-inch tablet touchscreen and a 4.2-inch color dual information display on the center console. From this control area, you can pull up all sorts of information about the vehicle including its energy monitor, hybrid system monitor as well as navigation assist. My tester came with a sparkling JBL audio system packing 10 speakers and a subwoofer. Directly above, you will find a big power moon roof with sunscreen shade.

You will also find plenty of USB ports front and rear and a nice, wide cell phone charging station, too.

In terms of on-board safety, Toyota provides a pre-collision and pedestrian alert system, lane departure warning, and cruise control.

My tester also had a vehicle proximity notification system to give pedestrians and bicyclists a head’s up when you’re driving in the stealthy “no-noise” EV mode. My Prius also offered blind-spot monitoring, rear cross alert, and parking assist.

Under the hood, my Prius was powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine mated with two electric motors which are, in turn, paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. The engine package provides 121 total horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque.

My tester’s mileage was, as expected, amazing. I got 52 miles per gallon overall, 54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg out on the highway. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for my Prius Limited was $34,786.

Final thoughts: The Toyota Prius does a lot of things right. In fact, I think it may just be the perfect economical daily commuter for most families. Get yourself down to a dealer and take a test drive and you’ll see what I mean.

Jeff Mitchell is a California-based automobile writer and reviewer. Contact him at j.edward.mitchell@gmail.com

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