Hybrids & Electrics

This Is the Best Toyota Car to Buy If You Care About Gas Mileage and Not Looks

The Toyota Prius is one of the biggest names in the world of hybrid cars. However, despite its incredibly efficient powertrain, it has a bad reputation in some circles. Prius drivers are mocked for their slow, cautious driving, and the car has been deemed outright ugly by many critics.

Nowadays, there are plenty of other sleeker hybrids and EVs to choose from instead. Many of Toyota’s other sedans are available in hybrid editions, including the Avalon, Camry, and Corolla. Still, Kelley Blue Book argues that the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime is still a good car despite its unconventional looks.

Why does the Toyota Prius Prime look so weird?

KBB graciously describes the Toyota Prius Prime’s exterior as “futuristic.” It’s optimized to increase its aerodynamics, which helps to make it speedier and increase its gas mileage. However, due to a downward trend in sales, Toyota did slightly refresh the Prius’ appearance in 2019.

The Toyota Prius now has more paint color options, different wheel designs, and a new set of front and rear bumpers. The Toyota Prius may look a little odd, but it’s far from the ugliest car you can buy. We’d probably give that honor to either the Subaru Baja or the Pontiac Aztek.

The one reason everyone loves the Toyota Prius

Whether you love or hate its design, the Toyota Prius Prime’s outstanding fuel economy numbers can’t be ignored. Its powertrain consists of two electric motors and a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine capable of 181 hp. The Prius Prime has 25 miles of all-electric range and 640 miles once the gasoline engine kicks in. With a 240-volt charger, it only takes two hours to completely charge the battery.

However, as you could probably imagine, the Prius Prime isn’t exactly thrilling to drive. Acceleration is pitiful, and the brakes can feel spongy if you’re not used to driving a Prius. Unlike the regular model, it’s not available with all-wheel drive. Still, the ride is smooth and the cabin is whisper-quiet on city commutes.

More driver aids for 2021

The Toyota Prius Prime now comes with the Toyota Safety Sense suite. This system includes cruise control, pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. Higher trims come with parallel parking assist, a head-up display, blind-spot monitoring, and parking sensors.

An essential new infotainment feature

RELATED: The 2021 Toyota Prius Is a Good Car but Has the Same Problem

Drivers with Android phones will definitely appreciate newly standard Android Auto in the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime. The Prius Prime also comes with Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, three USB ports, satellite radio. In an attempt to rival popular Tesla models, Toyota also gave the Prius Prime an optional 11.6-inch touchscreen. However, due to its lack of physical controls, some drivers may find it distracting to operate.

The interior layout is also improved thanks to the addition of an extra seat, upping its passenger capacity to five. Both rows have ample space for occupants to stretch their limbs, but leave the middle rear seat to the smallest rider.

A spot in the carpool lane

If you live in any city with busy four-lane highways, you may find yourself eyeing the uncrowded carpool lane with envy. If you own a Toyota Prius Prime, you can probably secure a Clean Air Vehicle sticker in any state with HOV lanes. For drivers who don’t want to deal with congested traffic, this alone may be worth the cost of the vehicle.

Additionally, the Toyota Prius Prime is also a great value for a plug-in vehicle, starting at around $28,000. However, once you deduct the $4,502 tax credit rebate, it’s actually more affordable than a regular model. No Toyota Prius can wow everyone in the looks department, but it’s still an awesome hybrid car.