Some might consider the Toyota Prius ugly, but it has spitefully stayed alive. It has earned its seniority from being one of the first widely available hybrid cars in the United States. Its electric battery is also one of the most reliable, so most older models are smart purchases.
The Prius is available in eight variations for the 2022 model year. The range-topping Limited trim boasts the most features and power. But is it the best way to spend your money?
How much does a fully loaded 2022 Toyota Prius cost?
The top-trim Toyota Prius Limited starts at $32,820, including the Advanced Technology package. It comes with some of the most desirable features, such as a JBL stereo system and navigation, plus a high-definition 11-inch touchscreen.
Then you can start adding options. For instance, choosing Supersonic Red or Wind Chill Pearl exterior paint costs an extra $425. And selecting the Premium Convenience Package, which gives you a power moonroof and 15-inch titanium-alloy wheels, costs $515. Plus, you can add other interior and exterior extras ranging from all-weather floor mats and a cargo tray for $429 to clear paint protection for the hood and doors for $618.
All of that bumps the total price of the range-topping Prius to $36,159.
On the other end of the scale, the base-model L Eco starts at only $24,525. All Prius models come with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine producing 121 hp. The standard model also includes smartphone integration, an automatic climate control system, and a decent selection of safety features.
The Prius LE starts at $25,735, adding Android Auto compatibility and a few extra driver’s aids. The all-wheel-drive version, which also includes push-button start and fog lights, costs $27,135. The Prius XLE starts at $28,745 and adds heated synthetic leather seats. The AWD version is $800 more.
For 2022, Toyota added two Nightshade editions to the lineup. Both feature blacked-out wheels, exterior accents, and headlight components. The AWD model is more expensive at $30,575, while the FWD version costs $29,445.
Is a range-topping 2022 Toyota Prius a good value?
The Toyota Prius is an efficient car, but the Limited’s MSRP is a bit high for a hybrid. It doesn’t help that the Prius is available with only one slow engine and doesn’t have any electric range to speak of. Instead of considering a fully loaded Prius, you might be better off with a Tesla Model 3 instead.
According to Tesla, the Model 3 RWD starts at $40,690, over $4,500 more than a fully loaded Toyota Prius Limited. Though that’s also a steep price hike, keep in mind that the Model 3’s electric motor is vastly more powerful. The Tesla EV can reach 60 mph in under six seconds, with a top speed of 140 mph.
In contrast, Car and Driver reported that the Prius is approximately five seconds slower. It might be sprightly on city streets, but the Model 3 undeniably has better handling. Plus, while beauty is subjective, it’s hard to deny that a Model 3 looks more stylish while cruising down the highway.
The Tesla Model 3 also has a healthy electric range of 267 miles, not bad for its price point. Of course, the Prius still gets excellent mileage, up to 54/50 mpg city/highway with FWD.
Even the standard Tesla Model 3 has more technology than a Toyota Prius Limited. Autopilot comes standard, while all Prius models have only basic adaptive cruise control. The Model 3 also features a 360-degree parking camera, a much larger center touchscreen, and its own mobile app.
But if your heart is set on a Prius, you’ll still need to decide which trim to get.
Which trim should you buy?
It’s clear that the primary purpose of the Toyota Prius is to be reliable and efficient without breaking the bank. In that case, we’d recommend the Prius XLE for its extended technology upgrades or the AWD-e version for added utility.
This is also the first trim where you can opt for the extra technology and convenience packages. Just don’t spend too much on extras, or you might as well save up for a Model 3.