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The Toyota Prius has been the premier choice among hybrid vehicles for the last two decades. Four generations have passed with numerous updates, added tech and safety systems, and even greater fuel efficiency. However, the Prius failed to remain the most popular hybrid in the U.S. market. In 2022, it was outsold for the second year in a row by the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

With 2022 used vehicle sales numbers crunched by iSeeCars, used Fusions outsold the Prius two-to-one. The online car search engine concluded that Prius sales made up 0.1 percent of the used car market. The Fusion’s market share was 0.2 percent, making it the second most popular used hybrid vehicle in America.

However, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid outsold the Ford, kicking the Fusion out of its first-place position in 2021. Toyota’s Prius remained third among the nation’s most popular used hybrids. Nevertheless, Toyota stocked in the top five with four models.

What’s the Ford Fusion Hybrid like?

Toyota Prius
Ford Fusion on display | Getty Images, Stan Honda

Ford discontinued its Fusion Hybrid sedan in 2020 to focus on its SUV lineup. In its last iteration, the five-seater came in three trim levels: the base SE, the slightly upgraded SEL, and the more upscale Titanium.

Powering the Fusion is an 88-kWh electric motor paired with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The combined output of 188 horsepower gives the expected electric oomph in torque. Yet, the continuously variable transmission and philosophy of fuel efficiency make for leisurely pursuits and not straight-line bursts of speed. Car and Driver says, “drivers have to consider this aspect of the powertrain when accelerating to merge onto the highway or make a quick pass.” Potential owners may coax an EPA-rated 42 mpg combined out of the Fusion. However, Edmunds declares, “real-world fuel economy doesn’t always match EPA estimates.”

Within the cabin of the Ford Fusion Hybrid, cloth upholstery comes standard. The SEL gains partial leather trimmings, and the Titanium is appointed with full-leather upholstery. Fortunately, both rows of seating feature ample legroom and headroom, and the rear a cargo space-enhancing 60/40 split-folding seat. Standard entertainment features include a nine-speaker stereo with satellite radio, dual 4.2-inch configurable displays, and an eight-inch touchscreen. Upgraded sound systems with additional speakers are optional tech and entertainment upgrades. Despite the different specs, the average price of the Ford Fusion Hybrid (2016-2020) is $23,547, iSeeCars states.

What about the Toyota Prius?

Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius in a parking lot | Getty Images, Bloomberg

While the Prius garnered praise as the top hybrid for years, its popularity waned. Nearing its 2023 redesign, Toyota sought to improve upon the fourth-generation four-door to increase sales.

The 2020 Prius is propelled by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder mated to a 53-kWh electric motor. One may think a smaller capacity powertrain would result in less power, and they would be right in this case. The Prius must manage the roads with just 96 horsepower. Luckily, potential owners can reassure themselves with an EPA-rated 56 mpg combined. Even the all-wheel drive version—new for 2020—could get 50 mpg.

Toyota also improved the cabin materials in the more recent Prius models. While they remain somewhat plasticky, it makes the roomy interior even more comfortable. Thanks to fold-down rear seats and a cavernous cargo area, the Prius is also quite practical. Regardless of which trim level—L Eco, LE, XLE, or Limited—each has a refreshed infotainment screen, a seven or 11.6-inch unit. While the larger system on the Limited model gained positive reviews, the smaller one “looks and feels dated,” Edmunds says. They also point out an annoying issue, claiming the instrument panel is offset and “out of [the] driver’s direct line of sight.” Despite the inconsistencies, iSeeCars says the average price of a Toyota Prius (2018-2022) comes in at just under $30,000.

Which is the better used car?

When comparing used hybrid models, it’s easy to get hung up on fuel economy. After all, what’s a hybrid for anyway? But potential buyers must get an understanding of the car as a whole, not just EPA figures.

The driving experience from the Ford Fusion Hybrid is likely to please above its relatively poor fuel efficiency compared to other hybrids. With competent handling, a composed ride, and optional all-wheel drive, it represents an excellent selection for a daily driver.

Toyota’s Prius may be the first stop shoppers make during their hybrid buying venture. While a dull driving experience may be assumed, that doesn’t translate into comfort. Edmunds asserts the Prius has a “jittery ride quality on rough pavement.”

Pitted together, while the Fusion and the Prius are hybrids, they are fairly contradictory. One is an easy-to-use, adequately-powered, well-trimmed, reasonably-priced sedan that (gas mileage speaking) isn’t a hybrid. The other is a hybrid that appears to be annoying to own.


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