While the first hybrid vehicle was introduced in 1899, for most of its history, the car has been gas powered. Almost 100 years later, the Toyota Prius became the first successful modern hybrid vehicle. It was introduced in Japan in 1997 and in the United States in 2000. While the Prius has proved to be a very popular hybrid, not everyone loves how it looks. The 2021 Toyota Prius offers some nice upgrades, but it still may face buyers who think it looks funny.
The Toyota Prius
Kelley Blue Book points out that the 2021 Toyota Prius provides plenty of great features. In a big one for hybrid buyers, it gets more than 50 MPG. It also has great reliability and is easy to drive. It comes with a standard set of safety and driver-assist features.
The Prius is comfortable to drive, and Kelley Blue Book says, “you and your passengers will enjoy its easygoing attitude.” While the Prius doesn’t have lots of acceleration, it isn’t as slow as people might fear. The Prius switches smoothly between gas power and electric power, which is to be expected from such an experienced hybrid manufacturer.
While the standard Prius has front-wheel drive, an all-wheel-drive option is available called the Prius AWD-e. The all-wheel-drive system helps improve traction at low speeds by using an electric motor to power the rear wheels below six MPH and as needed at speeds less than 43 MPH.
The Prius already sports some interior upgrades that have been introduced over the past few years. In addition to piano-black trim on the steering wheel and center console, the touchscreen grew from 6.1 inches to seven inches. The Limited trim has a vertical 11.6-inch touchscreen, although Kelley Blue Book prefers the smaller size since it has less glare. There is also a wireless charging pad on all trims except the LE Eco and LE trims.
What’s new for 2021
The 2021 Toyota Prius now offers new tech upgrades, more safety features, plus a special edition, which recognizes the 20th anniversary of the Prius. Apple CarPlay compatibility was introduced in recent years. Android Auto compatibility is now standard on all the trims except the Limited Edition, which has a different, vertical screen.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is also standard, providing a number of driver-assist features. It previously included forward-collision alert with low-light pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, radar cruise control, and automatic high beams. It now also has enhanced bicyclist detection along with road-sign recognition. LE and higher trims add blind-spot monitoring and parking sensors.
All trims also come with a three-year trial of Toyota Safety Connect, which provides a button for emergency assistance as well as other safety services. All trims also have two years or 25,000 miles of complimentary maintenance.
For 2021, even the base L Eco trim comes standard with a push-button start, a six-way manual-adjust driver’s seat, and Amazon Alexa along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A new special edition has also arrived for 2021. Named the 2020 Edition, it refers to the 20th anniversary of the Prius (and not the year). It has a more aggressive appearance, and only 2,020 models will be available.
The Toyota Prius’ unusual appearance
The current generation, redesigned for 2016, has an improved exterior design. Kelley Blue Book does acknowledge that the “Prius styling isn’t for everyone.” However, it feels the look has improved from “pretty boring” to “a spaceship on wheels.” It makes more of a statement now with its “futuristic lines.” It’s bigger and lower now too and also more aerodynamic. Its shape helps improve its fuel efficiency even more and gives drivers better visibility.
While the 2021 Toyota Prius may be more expensive than some other hybrids, it saves money with great fuel efficiency and has good resale value as well, especially when the price of gas is high. The Prius also offers buyers a number of great features. Will the improvements be enough to overcome the objections of people who still think the Prius looks unusual? Toyota will have to wait and see.