- 50 mpg in combined city/highway driving
- Hybrid drivetrain has a total output of 134-hp
- Available eco-friendly features like solar panels on the roof and bio-plastics in the interior
Toyota’s reigning eco-champion is back. The 2014 Toyota Prius returns with the same great fuel economy and plenty of other green features in an Earth-friendly package that will also save you plenty at the pump.
The Prius has been at the top of the green car heap for quite some time, and though other contenders have emerged nothing has really toppled the Prius from the top of the hill. The latest contenders include the new Honda Accord Hybrid and Ford C-Max Hybrid, which can come close to the Prius in terms of pure fuel economy, but not on MSRP or on eco-friendly features.
The Prius family has expanded the past few years and now includes Prius v, Prius c, and Prius Plug-in models (all covered separately on this site). But we are here to talk about the original Prius which sports that familiar wedge shape. 15-inch wheels and LED taillights that use less power are standard. Optional is a power tilt/sliding moonroof that offers ventilation to help to keep the car cool in the sun when it is sitting drawing power from roof-mounted solar panels.
What really makes the Prius hum is its advanced full hybrid drivetrain. “Full hybrid” means that the Prius can run solely on electric power when there’s enough juice in the battery; the gas engine will shut down the Prius can glide around silently on electricity at low speeds. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine has its own bag of eco-tricks, such as an electric water pump and exhaust gas recovery which increase efficiency. The Prius also utilizes a CVT and regenerative braking, which recharges the battery when slowing. Total output is 134-horsepower.
Fuel economy figures are unchanged: 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway, good enough for 50 combined mpg. The 2014 Prius also offers four distinct driving modes: Drive (normal), Eco (for increased efficiency), Power (for acceleration), and EV-Drive (drives as long as possible in electric mode).
Styling inside the Prius is just as quirky as the exterior, with the instrument panel pushed to the top of the center stack instead of sitting in front of the driver. Toyota contends that this design helps driver’s to keep their eyes on the road but it does take some time to get used to. An electric nub shifter sits to the left of the center console and the passenger side has two glove boxes for storage. The Prius seats five passengers on standard eco-friendly cloth (leather is optional). Automatic climate control, USB/iPod port, Bluetooth connectivity, and push button start are standard. Also standard is Toyota’s Touch Tracer Display technology which shows a replica of the touch-sensitive steering controls in the instrument panel so drivers do not have to look down at the wheel to see the controls. A navigation system, heated front seats, and the Entune multimedia system are optional.
Standard safety features include seven airbags, active front head restraints, all-disc antilock brakes, and an electronic stability system. The Prius also received a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS and a four-star overall rating from the NHTSA for its performance in crash tests. Optional safety tech includes radar-based adaptive cruise control and a lane departure prevention system.