2020 Toyota Prius

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
October 18, 2019

Buying tip

The plug-in 2020 Toyota Prius Prime comes in three trim levels for the first time, making it a compelling alternative for drivers with shorter commutes.

features & specs

L Eco
LE AWD-e
XLE AWD-e
MPG
58 city / 53 hwy
MPG
52 city / 48 hwy
MPG
52 city / 48 hwy
MSRP
$24,325
MSRP
$26,935
MSRP
$29,375

The 2020 Toyota Prius is a good choice for commuters made even better with more smartphone connectivity this year.

It’s hard not to have an opinion on the 2020 Toyota Prius. The car’s expressive shape, impressive fuel economy, and reasonable price have made it a favorite with drivers interested in saving fuel. But gas is cheap, and rivals are catching up, which makes the 2020 Prius less of a stand-out than before.

We rate the lineup at 6.0 out of 10, giving it points for its spacious interior and, of course, its eco-friendliness. It’s dull to drive, however. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Prius lineup comes in L Eco, LE, XLE, and Limited editions, the higher versions of which are offered with either all-wheel drive or in plug-in hybrid Prius Prime form.

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All use a 1.8-liter inline-4 paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), an electric motor, and a battery pack. Base versions earn up to 56 mpg combined according to the EPA. With the 2020 Prius Prime, Toyota swaps in a larger battery pack that allows that version to run about 25 miles on electricity alone. Last year’s lineup expanded with the winter state-friendly all-wheel-drive version that includes an extra electric motor to power the rear wheels at city speeds. 

No matter the version, no Prius accelerates or corners with any enthusiasm, though ride quality is good. 

The Prius is plenty spacious inside, with 27 cubic feet of cargo space and decent leg room all around. A new 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment this year adds Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa (but no Android Auto) compatibility, and includes USB ports and Bluetooth. More expensive versions include a Tesla-like 11.6-inch touchscreen that’s arranged vertically and integrates many climate controls. Try before buying. 

The 2020 Prius comes with an especially high degree of active safety gear for a car that costs less than $25,000 in base form. Adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are standard, while blind-spot monitors come on all but the cheapest version. Federal and independent crash-test results have largely been good, too.

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2020 Toyota Prius

Styling

Eco-friendly doesn’t have to mean frumpy, but nobody will call the 2020 Toyota Prius a knockout.

The 2020 Toyota Prius was shaped by the wind, and not fashion, which means it doesn’t look like most new cars. Its looks are busy inside and out, and we rate it just 3 out of 10 with points deducted from average for both its interior and its exterior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Unlike the first Prius that arrived more than two decades ago -- yes, time flies when you’re saving gas, too -- the latest model tries very hard to make a statement. Its basic egg shape remains, but with a complicated, low-slung nose and a high tail. There are so many lines arguing with one another that the Prius starts to remind us of dinnertime when the whole family’s home. Harmony is rare and brief. 

The Prius Prime achieves what we thought was impossible by adding an even busier snout.

Inside, things aren’t much better, though a newly standard 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment this year at least adds a dose of tech missing in last year’s model. Higher-grade versions continue to offer a vertical 11.6-inch touchscreen that reduces some clutter and looks all right with the shiny black plastic, but it hardly improves things enough to merit a point. A new all-black hue available in this year’s Prius Prime does a nice job of disguising some of the mish-mashed lines, at least. 

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2020 Toyota Prius

Performance

By conventional standards, the 2020 Toyota Prius is far from a performance machine.

The 2020 Toyota Prius is a competent machine designed to sip fuel, not guzzle it. That’s no excuse for its dull steering, though. We dock two points for slow acceleration and the lack of handling prowess, which brings us to a 3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In daily driving, the 2020 Prius is competent. The 1.8-liter inline-4 is rated at 95 hp, and combines with the 53-kw electric motor and a 0.75-kwh lithium-ion battery pack for a total rating of 121 hp. All-wheel-drive versions add an extra electric motor on the rear axle, which doesn’t change power output though it does increase weight by around 150 pounds thanks in part to a larger 1.2-kwh battery pack comprised of nickel-metal hydride cells, said to acclimate better to the cold-weather locales where all-wheel drive comes in handy. 

No matter the drive wheels, the Prius picks up speed reasonably, but not quickly. Passing requires planning ahead for best execution. The related Prius Prime offers a 25-mile electric range but otherwise drives like its siblings. Under electric power alone, the Prius Prime accelerates confidently and silently around town. 

The all-wheel-drive system delivers good grip from a start in slippery terrain, and the rear-axle motor deactivates above 43 mph. It’s better than nothing, but the Prius’ low clearance dictated by its aero-friendly design means that deep snow will provide a challenge.

Don’t look for the all-wheel-drive Prius to handle any differently, even though power goes to all four corners. The car’s stiff frame is shared in part with the Toyota C-HR, and provides a soft, composed ride. The steering is quick and easy, but entirely free of feedback. Braking supplies regenerative power to the battery packs and has a better pedal feel than in most hybrids. 

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2020 Toyota Prius

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Toyota Prius has a spacious truck and a roomy interior.

The 2020 Toyota Prius offers good seating for five adults, as long as they’re not too tall, and its cargo hold can haul a big shopping trip home. We rate it 6 out of 10 for its comfort and utility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, all versions of the 2020 Prius can seat five passengers -- last year’s quirky two-place rear seat in the Prius Prime has been dropped.

The standard front seats are comfortable enough, and the optional power adjustment makes the driver seat even more flexible. Rear-seat riders will find 33.4 inches of leg room, which feels like a lot more than that in practice thanks to a well-sculpted front seatback. Rear-seat head room is just OK for taller riders, however.

The Prius’ hatchback doesn’t rival SUVs for utility, but it bests most small cars by offering 27 cubic feet of luggage-stowing ability.

One place where the car shows its relatively low price tag is in its interior finishes. The grained plastics are nice enough, but the shiny plastic Toyota uses throughout feels like it will show marks over time—which has been our experience in previous generations of the Prius. 

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2020 Toyota Prius

Safety

The 2020 Toyota Prius has done well in crash tests and comes loaded with collision-avoidance tech.

The 2020 Toyota Prius is both a frugal and a safe choice. Federal and independent testers have awarded the car with high marks, and every version comes with collision-avoidance features as standard. Only subpar rearward vision holds the thrifty little car back. 

We rate the lineup at 9 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year’s Prius hasn’t been rated by the IIHS, but we see little reason to assume it won’t carry over last year’s Top Safety Pick award. The Prius earned “Good” ratings in all but the challenging small-overlap test on the passenger’s side, which imitates impact with a stationary object such as a telephone pole. It earned “Acceptable” in that test, the same score the IIHS awarded its headlights.

In its tests of last year’s Prius, the NHTSA rated the car five stars overall, with four stars for frontal impact and four in the calculated rollover measurement. 

All 2020 Prius models include automatic emergency braking, while top versions offer blind-spot monitors and a head-up display. That tech is helpful given the beefy rear roof pillars that make rearward vision a challenge when backing out of a driveway or parking spot.

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2020 Toyota Prius

Features

The 2020 Toyota Prius comes with a good deal of equipment.

Starting from around $25,000, the 2020 Toyota Prius lineup is offered in four trim levels that include standard smartphone connectivity this year. 

We rate the Prius range at 7 out of 10 on account of its good safety and convenience features and updated infotainment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base Prius L Eco costs about $25,150 and includes power features, automatic emergency braking, keyless ignition, adaptive cruise control, and a new 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with a trio of USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility (but still no Android Auto), and Bluetooth connectivity. 

The base version’s our choice in the lineup. For commuters, it covers the basics just fine. The $1,300 Toyota charges for the Prius LE may be worthwhile to some shoppers for the blind-spot monitors, split-folding rear seat, and rear window wiper. 

Big spenders will find synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, an 11.6-inch touchscreen for infotainment, head-up display, alloy wheels, and a wireless phone charger on the $33,300 Prius Limited. Even it’s not a bad value, all things considered. 

All-wheel drive is offered on the LE and XLE trim levels for about $1,300, while the Prius Prime costs $2,300 more than the standard car and can be had in LE, XLE, and Limited trims.

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2020 Toyota Prius

Fuel Economy

It’s hard to find a car more fuel efficient than the 2020 Toyota Prius.

No matter the 2020 Toyota Prius you select, the EPA says to expect upward of 50 mpg combined. That’s enough for an 8 out of 10 score on our scale, which is the highest we award hybrid cars. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Not all Prius models are created equally, however. The base Prius L Eco wears slippery tires that earn it the best figures: 58 mpg city, 53 highway, 56 combined. Other front-wheel-drive trims earn 54/50/52 mpg. Select all-wheel drive and the EPA drops those figures to 48/43/46 mpg. 

The Prius Prime is rated at 54 mpg combined and can run up to 25 miles on electric power alone.

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$24,325
MSRP based on L Eco
 
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6.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 3
Performance 3
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 9
Features 7
Fuel Economy 8
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2020 Toyota Prius Pricing Insights

  • 2020 Prius is here
  • Rebate: Up to $2,500 off (2019)
  • Finance: 2.9% APR (2020)
  • Lease: From $269/mo. (2019)
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