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2001 Toyota Prius Review

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I probably have more “green” friends than most automotive writers, and my planet-conscious pals constantly pose questions about “those new hybrids” as if they’re the next big thing since frozen yogurt or TofuRella — cars that you can use without the guilt of contributing to global warming and the depletion of fossil-fuel resources, cars that set a trend for others to follow.

Until recently, my only experience with the $19,995 Prius was when Toyota brought a few Japanese-market cars to the U.S. more than a year in advance of its U.S. introduction. Although Honda’s Insight (which went on sale in the U.S. before the Prius) was still in the development stages at that time, the Prius had already been on sale in Japan for nearly two years (it made its debut there in 1997). In a short drive then of a right-hand-drive Prius, my colleagues and I were impressed with the seamlessness of the hybrid drivetrain but critical of the car’s lack of power at higher speeds.

Since then, Toyota has tweaked the Prius for the American market with a slightly more powerful engine, new battery packs, and revised hybrid system behavior. Naturally, I considered it my duty to you and to my tree-hugging buds alike to revisit this benchmark. Mainly, I was interested in two main things: is the Prius a car that I could live with as well as any other small car from day to day, and does this tech powerhouse actually return the lofty gas-mileage figures that it promises (52 city and 45 highway, according to the EPA)?

I found my answers — both yes and no.

Good news for granolas

The good news for Toyota and for granolas everywhere is that driving the Prius is not the work-in-progress, techno-geek experience you might think. In fact, most of the time the hybrid system does its job so unobtrusively that you don’t even know what’s going on, unless you’re looking at the special feature screen on the onboard computer that shows you, with arrow diagrams, whether the electric motor, gas engine, or both are providing power, and when the battery packs are regenerating. The column shifter and center-mounted LED gauge cluster are a bit different from other small cars, but otherwise you just shift into Drive and go. The Prius feels and drives much like a normal small car.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015
For 2001 Toyota Prius

Traction Battery lasted 12 years

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We bought ours in 2003, computer was replaced 6 months after we bought it under warranty. No problems what so ever until 2012 when traction battery had to be replaced. Cost me $3000 but not bad if you consider... + More »
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Wednesday, April 6, 2016
2016 Toyota Prius 5-Door HB Three (GS)

What I expected and way more!

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I've been driving a Prius since I bought my 2006 in December 2005. When it was finally time to think about a new car, my mind immediately went to the 2016 Prius. I was blown away by the new styling and... + More »
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016
2016 Toyota Prius 5-Door HB Four (Natl)

moving up in technology and style

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Lots of fun has been poked about the new 2016 Prius. The new Prius is different, but being different does not mean that it's a bad design. Toyota designed the Prius for the next five years. Doing so they... + More »
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