The Toyota Prius is an icon in the hybrid car segment. It’s often credited with the rise in popularity of hybrid and electric cars that’s led to the current era of electrified vehicles. Between 2005 and 2017, more than 100,000 Prius models were sold in the U.S., according to GoodCarBadCar data. That includes a stretch from 2012-2014 that saw at least 200,000 models sold in the U.S. Though total sales have dropped off in the last five years as the hybrid car market becomes more crowded, there are plenty of Prius models on the road now and on the used market.
But which year is the best used Prius model? Thanks to data compiled by CarComplaints, a few years stick out as the best used Toyota Prius model years.
The best used Toyota Prius model years
There’s decades of information and model years to choose from, but five stick out to CarComplaints in its list of best vehicles: 2009, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
The 2009 model was the final year of the second generation of Prius models. Overall, CarComplaints has 104 complaints on record for that model, with a large majority categorized as lights problems (65 out of 104). The next-highest category is interior accessories problems (8). The most common problem was HID light failure, with 31 total complaints at an average of 96,000 miles. Repair costs are not high at an average of $260. Headlights going out are the second-most common complaint with 23 coming at an average of 104,950 miles.
The 2015 model marked the final year of the third-generation Prius and has just 21 complaints listed. CarComplaints data shows the most common categories are interior accessories and brakes problems, but each only have six total complaints. No problem has more than two complaints overall. With more than 180,000 models sold in the U.S., there’s likely many on the used market to choose from.
The 2017 Prius was the second year of the fourth generation and saw a big decline in complaints down to just 11 total. CarComplaints data shows nearly half of complaints are windows/windshield problems and the most common complaint — brakes not working properly — only has three instances on record occurring at an average of 5,000 miles.
The 2018 model continues that decline with just four complaints on record, making it the best used Toyota Prius model year. Three of those complaints are categorized as windows/windshield problems and the other as interior accessories problems. The 2019 model sees a small uptick to six complaints total spread across six categories. More than 150,000 models were sold in these two years.
Used Toyota Prius model years you should avoid
Using CarComplaints’ database on the Toyota Prius shows four years to avoid: 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011.
The 2007 Prius model has 155 complaints about lights. In total, CarComplaints has 252 complaints on file. The most common complaint is a headlight randomly turning off while driving with 137 total. The problem happens at an average of 97,650 miles and typically costs $370 to repair. Another 18 complaints mention headlights burning out prematurely at around 130,000 miles.
Those problems continued with the 2008 Prius model. Of the 258 total complaints on file for that year, 153 are classified as light problems by CarComplaints. Headlights malfunctioning is the most reported problem (84 complaints) at an average of 91,200 miles. Intermittent headlight failure is second (68) at an average of 112,950 miles.
Of all of the Prius years on record with CarComplaints, 2010 is the worst, with 313 total complaints on record. More than half of those — 162 in total — are categorized as engine problems. The most common complaint overall is excessive oil consumption, with 135 complaints at an average of 109,900 miles. Many complaints say that an engine replacement or rebuild was the solution. This has led CarComplaints to giving the 2010 Prius an avoid-like-the-plague distinction.
Though the 2011 model year has fewer complaints on file (114) compared to the other three, CarComplaints rates it the worst year “because of other possible factors such as higher repair cost or more problems at lower mileage.” Excessive oil consumption, like in 2010, is the most common complaint with 34 coming at an average of 113,450 miles.
Are used Toyota hybrid cars a reliable choice?
Hybrid vehicle segments are more crowded now than when the first Toyota Prius model came to the U.S. decades ago. Now there are high-quality options from the likes of Hyundai, Honda, and Kia.
But the top used Toyota Prius model years are a great way to get the benefits of hybrid vehicles without paying the price for a new car. RepairPal gives the Toyota Prius a 4.0 out of 5 for reliability, ranking 10th out of 24 in the midsize car segment. Annual repair costs are estimated at $408. That’s much lower than the average for midsize cars ($526) and all vehicles ($652).
Besides the Prius, CarComplaints lists the 2010-2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid as some of the best vehicles on the market. Both are reliable choices for used hybrid cars.