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GREEN | 10 out of 10
2013 Toyota Prius: 51 mpg city, 38 highway
Fifty mpg! Free hugs at Whole Foods, no limit, while they last.
Car and Driver
Even though it also weighs about 100 pounds more, the new car is rated 3 to 4 miles per gallon more than the old one.
Pressing the EV button prompts the Prius to run on just its electric motors, but requires that the battery be at least halfway charged and limits speed to 25 mph
Last year, for the first time, the Prius Liftback's combined EPA rating of 50 mpg was matched by another car. It, too, was a Prius, in this case the subcompact Prius C five-door hatchback.
So the 2013 Toyota Prius remains the highest-mileage gasoline car sold in the U.S. market without a plug. For those of us who aren't hypermilers--compete to see who can travel the furthest on the least amount of gasoline--it just delivers the best fuel economy we can buy. Specifically, the EPA rates the this year's Prius Liftback at 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway--giving that combined rating of 50 mpg.
By concentrating on it, accelerating lightly in electric mode, and planning ahead, you can exceed 60 mpg at slower speeds on level surfaces--especially if you can take advantage of "EV" mode for the last mile of your trip. In more real-world mixed use, we expect 45 to 50 mpg will be the norm. You can drop that into the high 30s if you have a heavy right food, or are carrying heavy loads up long grades.
As in all Toyotas, the Hybrid Synergy Drive system is at its most effective in stop-and-go urban and suburban traffic, where it shuts off the engine frequently. If you do a lot of city driving, it's entirely possible to achieve a sustained 50 mpg or better. Just ask the taxi drivers all over the world who relish the low operating costs of their Prius cabs.
The Prius Plug-In Hybrid presents more of a conundrum for green-car fans. It has the lowest all-electric range (6 to 13 miles) of any plug-in on the market, significantly lower than the 20 miles or so of Ford's C-Max and Fusion Energi plug-in models--let alone the 38-mile electric range of the 2013 Chevy Volt.
The plug-in Prius does qualify for single-occupant use in California's carpool lanes, which may be spurring its early sales. And perhaps it offers an easy step into the world of plugging in for the 1 million-plus U.S. drivers who own Priuses. Still, as an electric car, it's a minimalist statement--betraying the company's core belief that electric cars aren't the way to go.
The 2013 Toyota Prius remains the highest-mileage gasoline car without a plug you can buy, and it's even a mid-size hatchback, not a small subcompact.