The 2021 Toyota Prius Prime Isn’t the Most Fuel-Efficient Hybrid To Buy

We confess: when we heard U.S. News came up with a list of the top 12 most fuel-efficient hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, one of the first vehicles that came to mind was the Toyota Prius. Ever since its release in 1997 with a promise of killer gas-mileage, it wasn’t surprising to see the latest Prius variant, the Prius Prime, so high up a fuel-efficiency list. Apart from the usual Toyota reliability and fuel efficiency, we analyze what makes the 2021 Prius Prime tick, but first…

Who made the list

The Prius Prime came second on the U.S. News list for the most fuel-efficient hybrid cars, no mean feat considering who else was on the list. It features the usual suspects in the new and old Hyundai Ioniq (more on that later), the 2020 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid, the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and the 2021 Honda Insight.

The 2020 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid returns an estimated 46 mpg, a decent but admittedly, not that impressive on such a list. But considering it’s an SUV, it quickly becomes apparent why it made the cut. The Kia offers a smooth ride, impressive sporty handling, and cargo space its rivals on this list can only dream of.

Hyundai keeps improving year-on-year, and the 2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is no different. It is the most expensive ride on the list, for a reason too, as it’s easily the most sophisticated car. The fact that it came third on this list is the icing on the cake as it offers a roomy cabin, brimming with standard safety features and banging infotainment. 

Another impressive competitor the Prime beat was the 2021 Honda Insight. For such a compact car, it’s comfortable, smooth, and offers a surprisingly roomy cabin. You can’t go wrong with this Honda as it provides excellent driver assistance systems and crash test ratings.

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Is the Hyundai Ioniq a good car?

We’ve had our misgivings about the Hyundai Ioniq EV, but this is a different kettle of fish. For starters, it manages an estiamted 58 mpg, the highest of all the cars on the list. More than that, it has excellent reliability and safety scores, the warranty is great, and it offers more cargo space than its plug-in hybrid equivalent. 

Even though rear seating and handling are a bit hit-and-miss, it offers acceptable acceleration whether you’re in the city or highway.

So, should you choose the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime?

RELATEDThe Most Reliable Toyota Cars

Well, you can’t blame Toyota for leaning hard on their best trick (hint: reliability), only that it seems they went full-throttle with the new Prius.

Not like that’s a bad thing because according to Consumer Reports, the 2021 Toyota Prius isn’t just the most reliable hybrid car out there, it is the most reliable new car for 2021, full stop. The question is, did they go all out on reliability and forgot everything else?

Sure, the Prius Prime is a little lower on the reliability list, but a score of 88 is hard stuff to sniff at. That said, the Prime comes second in this list because it offers an estimated 54 mpg,

Considering its fuel-sipping heritage, performance isn’t the Prime’s strong suit. With such a weak drivetrain and no all-wheel drive, it’s no wonder it struggles at it. Yes, the 2021 Prius Prime lacks performance, but that’s not what a Prius is about. It offers incredible fuel savings, an excellent infotainment system, active safety aids, and reasonable cabin space.