2020 Toyota Prius

By March 24, 2020

The 2020 Toyota Prius hybrid offers a nice shape, impressive fuel economy, a reasonable price, and a lot of standard active safety equipment.

The 2020 Prius uses a 1.8-liter inline-4 engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), mated to an electric motor with a battery pack. The Prius Prime plug-in hybrid uses a larger battery pack that allows it to run about 25 miles on electricity alone. There is also an all-wheel-drive version that includes an extra electric motor to power the rear wheels at city speeds.

A new 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment this year adds Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa (but no Android Auto) compatibility, and includes USB ports and Bluetooth. The top Prius models include a Tesla-like 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen.

Safety technology includes adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, while blind-spot monitors come on all but the entry-level Prius.
The Prius L Eco with special tires earns the best EPA ratings, with 58 mpg city, 53 highway, 56 combined. Other front-wheel-drive models earn 54/50/52 mpg. With all-wheel drive the numbers drop to 48/43/46 mpg. The Prius Prime gets 54 mpg combined and can run up to 25 miles on electric power alone, making it compelling for small-town driving and short commutes.

The NHTSA gave the 2020 Prius five stars overall in its crash tests, with four stars for frontal impact and four in the calculated rollover measurement. The 2020 Prius hasn’t been crash tested by the IIHS.

Model Lineup

Starting from around $25,000, the 2020 Toyota Prius lineup is offered in four trim levels that include standard smartphone connectivity this year. The Prius comes in L Eco, LE, XLE, and Limited. All-wheel drive is offered on the LE and XLE for about $1,300. The plug-in Prius Prime costs $2,300 more than the standard car and comes in LE, XLE, and Limited trims.

The base Prius L Eco costs $25,150 and includes power features, automatic emergency braking, keyless ignition, adaptive cruise control, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with a trio of USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility (but still no Android Auto), and Bluetooth connectivity.

For $1,300 more the Prius LE gets blind-spot monitors, split-folding rear seat, and rear window wiper.

The $33,300 Prius Limited gets synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, an 11.6-inch touchscreen for infotainment, a head-up display, alloy wheels, and a wireless smartphone charger.

Exterior

The 2020 Toyota Prius was shaped by aerodynamic testing, so it’s egg-shaped. It tries hard to make a statement, with a complicated, low-slung nose and a high tail. The Prius Prime almost achieves the impossible, with a snout that’s even busier.

Interior

The inside is nearly as cluttered as the exterior is busy, although the available vertical 11.6-inch touchscreen reduces some of that clutter, while a new black interior in the Prius Prime helps to bury some of the criss-crossed lines.

The new standard 7.0-inch touchscreen adds some technology that was previously missing, while the 11.6-inch screen in the top models looks okay even with its shiny black plastic.

The 2020 Toyota Prius offers good seating for five adults, as long as they’re not too tall. The standard front seats are comfortable enough, and the optional power adjustment makes the driver seat more flexible. Last year’s quirky two-place rear seat in the Prius Prime has been dropped.

The rear seat offers 33.4 inches of leg room, with unmeasured space being clearly felt thanks to the carefully sculpted front seatbacks. Rear-seat head room is OK.

The cargo area under the hatchback is a roomy 27 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The 1.8-liter inline-4 is rated at 95 hp, and combines with the 53-kw electric motor and a 0.75-kwh lithium-ion battery pack for a total of 121 hp. The Prius’ performance is competent, with reasonable but not quick acceleration. Passing requires planning.

The Prius Prime feels the same, while offering a 25-mile electric range. Under electric power alone, it accelerates confidently and silently around town.

All-wheel-drive adds another electric motor on the rear axle, which doesn’t increase the power but adds about 150 pounds with its larger 1.2-kwh battery pack of nickel-metal hydride cells. These are less affected by cold weather, where all-wheel drive is in demand.

The all-wheel-drive system delivers good grip from a start in slippery terrain, and the rear-axle motor deactivates above 43 mph. It’s better than nothing, but the Prius’ low ground clearance (for high fuel economy through better aerodynamics) that deep snow will be challenging.

The steering is quick and easy, but dull; that is, entirely free of feedback. And the all-wheel-drive version handles the same, even with power going to all four corners.

The car’s stiff frame is shared in part with the Toyota C-HR crossover SUV, and it provides a soft, composed ride.
Braking supplies regenerative power to the battery packs and has a better pedal feel than in most hybrids.

Final Word

Everyone knows that Prius owners think differently. So we’re not going to fault the dull things like acceleration, cornering and steering–or even the busy instrumentation that they seem to like. The 2020 Toyota Prius knows what it’s all about and has found its market. It has stylish looks, practical interior space, a great base price, and it saves a ton of money and fossil fuel. The Prius just keeps getting better at what it does best.

—By Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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