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Specialty vehicles from racecars to commercial vehicles aren’t meant to be utilized and driven in the way we expect from, say, a Honda Civic. Similar to a utility van or a sprint car, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler and the 2021 Toyota Prius both have some similarities to these specialty vehicles and each other. These two vehicles have much more in common than you think.

A red 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 SUV parked on rocks on the side of a hill
2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 | Stellantis

I know that may sound a little crazy, but follow me. Both the Jeep Wrangler and the Toyota Prius were really meant to do one thing really well, and they do. However, both vehicles sacrifice nearly every other aspect of driving to achieve this one thing.

For the Toyota Prius, everything else takes a back seat to fuel efficiency. For the Jeep Wrangler, all roads lead to off-road supremacy while the rest of the driving aspects are all but discarded. 

How is the 2021 Jeep Wrangler similar to the 2021 Toyota Prius? 

On paper, these two aren’t similar at all. Their design, purpose, customer base, and entire ethos are not only completely different but are essentially opposed. The 2021 Toyota Prius is clearly all-in on earth-friendly motoring.

In contrast, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler is anything but earth-friendly. In fact, the Jeep’s whole thing is its ability to dominate the wild parts of the world with 4×4 strength. So, how can these two opposing forces have anything in common? 

2021 Toyota Prius in blue parked in the rain in a city
2021 Toyota Prius | Toyota

Although I will make a case that these are sneaky similar, Consumer Reports could not disagree more. The 2021 Toyota Prius did great on the CR testing resulting in an 80/100. Meanwhile, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler earned a 29/100, one of the lowest scores on the site. If you look past the scores, even Consumer Reports knows what I’m talking about.

The Prius and Wrangler are both Zealots

These vehicles are nearly uncompromising in their relative missions. Consumer Reports noted that the 2021 Jeep Wrangler scored poorly in almost every category outside of off-road ability.

According to CR, It has poor fuel economy, poor handling, and it’s slow, unreliable, uncomfortable, and loud. With a score of 29/100, CR can’t have been too impressed with any aspect of the 285-hp, 3.6-liter V6 version of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler. 

Even with the abysmal test score, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler is rated as one of the highest in owner satisfaction. No matter how bad some of the Wrangler’s aspects may be to CR, the off-roading element is the only thing that seems to matter for folks who actually buy them. 

Like the Toyota Prius, the Jeep Wrangler benefits from a cult of personality. The people who own them do so because they want a Jeep. Therefore, owning a Jeep is intrinsically satisfying. The reality of what it is almost doesn’t matter. It can sacrifice everyday driving comforts and expectations for its Jeep-ness, and not only is it OK, but it seems to be what many buyers want. 

The 2021 Toyota Prius isn’t quite as fanatical, but it’s close

Like the Wrangler, the 2021 Toyota Prius hasn’t dramatically changed over the years becuase it does the one thing it is intended to do; be ecologically responsible. In fairness, Consumer Reports found the Prius to be far better than the Jeep Wrangler, but the spirit is still the same. 

Even though the Prius is an all-around better daily driver than the Jeep Wrangler, according to Consumer Reports, it still sacrifices a lot for its mission. The Toyota Prius is known for one thing and one thing only; great gas mileage.

The poster-child hybrid delivers an amazing 52 mpg. It does so by having a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a battery-powered electric motor. The two power plants add up to a sluggish 121 hp. Let the sacrifices begin. 

2021 Toyota Prius with bikes mounted on the roof
2021 Toyota Prius | Toyota

Consumer Reports recommends the Prius yet still has a laundry list of issues with the little hybrid. Like the Wrangler, CR wasn’t impressed with the quality of the interior, the handling, braking, and of course, the acceleration is horrendous.

The Prius can barely hit 60 mph within 10 seconds. I mean, I know acceleration isn’t everything, but it is something. The Prius respectfully disagrees, as do Prius owners.

In its quest for fuel efficiency, the Prius has sacrificed many aspects of driving. For any automotive enthusiast, the Prius represents the death of all things that we enjoy about the car world. It is a formless and joyless thing that, like the Wrangler, owners truly love. 

Why do people love the Toyota Prius and Jeep Wrangler so much?

For two vehicles that are so clearly limited, the Prius and Wrangler are deeply loved by their owners. Although what they represent to their respective owners is quite different, the feeling is the same. Many people buy Jeep Wranglers and Toyota Priuses because they simply want to be a person who owns one. They both represent a lifestyle to the world that owners want to be associated with them. 

I want to be clear; this is not a dig. I bought a Jeep Wrangler for this reason. I saw people who drove jeeps as cool and adventurous, and I wanted to be seen that same way by having a car that could do those things.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator and Jeep Wrangler being driven on a cloudy day
2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon (Left) and 2021 Jeep® Gladiator Rubicon (Right) | Stellantis

Similarly, the Prius represents a certain kind of environmentally conscious person and wants to support such things publicly. Of course, both “types” of owners are speculation and generalization, but I think it’s fair to say that we make these judgments when we see either vehicle driving down the road. 

Vehicles, like fashion, can be very representative of who the driver is or wants to be. I think this is a beautiful thing. So whether you are in the cult of Jeep or Prius, do you. There is room enough for all stripes.


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