Today we are driving the 2015 Toyota Prius Four, which designates the trim level. This one’s sticker price is right around $29,000. It’s nicely equipped with a leather-like material Toyota calls SofTex, which incidentally is “leather-like” because the production of the material is more environmentally friendly than leather. The material is extremely soft and comfortable, the driver’s seat is 8-way power adjustable with power lumbar, and both front seats are heated.
Auto climate control is standard, and this version of the Prius comes with the Display Audio with Navigation, Entune and an upgraded JBL sound system. Some of this feels a bit outdated. The Infotainment in the Prius has not been fully updated in years, it’s not nearly as easy or convenient to use as the newer Toyota systems. The screen isn’t as clear, and I found some of what should be the easiest requests, like to cancel a route, difficult to make.
When it comes to the interior look of the Prius, that also hasn’t changed much in about 3 years. The dashboard and instrument panel are simple, nothing fancy, very utilitarian, and aren’t much to look at in the way of dashboards. But this car is not known for being fancy. One kind of cool and “futuristic” feature is the Touch Tracer Display which will light up on your instrument panel when you are using your steering wheel mounted controls. That way you can make adjustments to your audio or check your driving stats, all while keeping your eyes on the road.
I like the feel of the cockpit because I like to feel sort of contained, but there are some people who may feel a bit confined. The center console keeps the front seats a bit tight, and the storage space is a bit awkward to use. Plus, I find it odd that the heated seat controls are down here near the floor. It’s not that convenient to use.
As far as the exterior design... well, it’s the Prius. It has a kind of iconic status with it’s shape. Again, little has changed in the past few years, but the idea with the “bubble look” is that it’s aerodynamic and keeps the coefficient of drag low. All that really means for you is that the design is functional, it’s not just to make the vehicle stand out as “alternative”.
Plus you get a ton of space and versatility with the hatchback design. Behind the seats you have 21.6 cu ft of space, with the addition of a small hidden compartment underneath the trunk floor. All in all, that amounts to four suitcases in our suitcase test. Plus, the seats have a 60/40 split fold, which allows you to use the entire back of the vehicle for cargo. That adds up to 40 cu ft of space or nearly doubling your space in our suitcase test. I drove it for the weekend and managed to pile in a ton.
If you’ve never driven a hybrid, the golf-cart like feeling at low speeds and light acceleration can take a little getting used to. This generation Prius did get an upgraded 1.8L 4-cylinder engine, mostly for a boost in your torque, which means less sluggish acceleration. You have the choice of 3 driving modes, which allows you to have a bit more control of your mileage and your performance. For example, there is a Sport Mode, which gives you a bit of boost, particularly useful when merging onto a busy highway. You have an EV mode which allows you to travel solely on battery power at low speeds for up to a mile, perfect when driving in a parking garage. What this all means is that you can find ways to feel a bit more confident when power is needed or you can try to maximize your fuel economy. Regardless, even if you never adjust the mode, you should still get somewhere in the ballpark of 45-50 miles to the gallon average.
Finally, one concern many first-time hybrid buyers have is warranty on the battery. The standard warranty on the hybrid components of the Prius are covered by an 8yr/100,000 mile warranty. And in some states, that is increased to 10yr/150,000 miles. So hopefully that extended warranty can provide a little extra peace of mind.
And listen, the Prius has been out on the roads for almost 15 years now. Toyota knows what they’re doing. The name has become synonymous with “hybrid” and in some markets, you see fleets of these things. They are reliable vehicles with some of the best gas mileage at a decent price point. The drawbacks I see are the boring dashboard, some of the dated technology, and the slightly awkward center console. Some people may also complain about the visibility, but I found I got used to it pretty quickly. We may see some great changes to improve these drawbacks next year, but for now, I give the 2015 Prius a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
- What I liked most: Fuel efficiency, coupled with versatile cargo space when driving solo.
- What I would change: Update the technology and look of the dash.
- MSRP: Base price $24,200. As equipped $29,260.
- Fuel Economy: 51 City/48 highway/50 combined.
- Weight: 3042 Pounds.
- Length-Width-Height: 176.4” long/68.7” wide/58.7” High.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 11.9 gallons
- Towing Capacity: N/A
- 2015 Prius in a few words: Icon status, it's all about the fuel economy.
- Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain, 8-year/100,000 mile hybrid components.
- Car Pro Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
- Dealers: We have great Toyota dealers in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Phoenix, Sacramento, and San Antonio.
- Manufacturer’s website: Toyota
Photo Credit: Toyota