The 2013 Toyota Prius continues unchanged with the iconic shape, now in its tenth year, that started with the 2004 model. It's the most recognizable hybrid in the world, with a high tail, a wedge shape, a domed roof, and a tailgate with a small vertical second window for rearward visibility.
At this point, you either like the shape of the Prius or you don't--but you can't deny it's distinctive. That shape could only be a Prius, and you can spot the car from 100 yards. The Liftback five-door hatchback Prius hybrid has a drag coefficient of 0.25, one of the lowest of any car on the market. That cuts wind resistance and helps the car deliver its combined 50-mpg EPA rating.
Last year, for the 2012 model year, the Prius gained a mild front-end restyling that added LED daytime running lights to updated headlamps, with slight taillamp freshening as well. The inside remains unchanged since 2010, with a wide dash and the distinctive high-mounted, central Multiple Information Display. Compared to more recent competitors, however, that display now looks scattered and chaotic, with an array of graphs, icons, and numbers that is much improved on by other hybrids.
A signature feature of the 2013 Prius interior is the hard-plastic "flying buttress" console, and joystick-like "shift" knob--items that could really only be from the Prius. The bin below the swooping console, however, is hard to get at. For owners who fill their cars with the usual assortment of devices, sunglasses, bills and change, and other small items, the style actually impedes the substance. The rest of the interior features lots of hard plastic, though patterned and grained in such a way that it works well with the design theme. Overall, the fabrics and materials of the Prius interior have the appearance of an inexpensive economy car.
Higher-level models offer an available Remote Touch controller--similar to a mouse fixed in position on the console--that controls icons on the navigation screen. While the controller feel is intuitive, the interface means drivers must take their eyes off the road frequently to watch the screen.