Happy 20th Anniversary to the Toyota Prius, the pioneering hybrid that sparked a revolution in electrified vehicles. Toyota says it’s sold more than 1.9 million of them in the U.S. since 2000. To mark the milestone, Toyota is offering a special Prius 2020 Anniversary Edition model - as part of its 2021 model year lineup. So a little confusing, but we’re talking about the 2021 Toyota Prius 2020 Edition. Only 2,020 of these special editions, based on the XLE FWD grade, will be offered.
You know a Prius when you see one thanks to its unmistakable styling, that while evolved over the years, still gives off a hybrid vibe. The 2020 Edition comes in two colors, Wind Chill Pearl, and my test vehicle’s terrific-looking Supersonic Red premium hue ($425.) The 2020 Edition rides on 17-inch wheels with piano-black inserts, blackout headlights and mirror housings along with color-keyed door handles. BI-LED headlights and LED daytime running lights are in front and full LED tail lights in the back along with special black badging and a color-keyed rear spoiler.
If you’ve driven or owned a Prius, you know its interior is also unique. The Supersonic Red 2020 Edition sports a black interior. There is a bit more plastic than I expected for $32K, but soft-touch areas include the dash, door armrests and console armrest. Glossy black trim, chrome door handles and smoked A/C vents add some cabin interest. This special edition comes with 2020 Edition floor mats and a badged key glove.
The 8-way power driver’s seat offers power lumbar support, while the passenger’s side is four-way manually adjustable. Both seats - with great longer seat cushions - offer two-level heating. A heated Softex-trimmed steering wheel with black accents and multifunction controls compliments the interior.
One of the key features of the Prius has long been the centrally located long central digital driver’s display set back on the dash. I’m not a huge fan of this layout since it’s not in the driver’s direct line of sight. But the digital display is bright and I like its large Road Sign Assist graphics.
The center stack is where you’ll find a stylish black gear knob with a button for park. A slim center console houses two cup holders and a standard wireless charger.
A note about the Prius’ tall windows. The glass real estate provides a lot of light into the cabin (nice given there is no available sunroof in this model.) However, light from the rear windows seemed to, at times, hit the 7-inch multimedia screen at just the wrong angle, causing a pretty eye-jarring glare positioned as I was. (For an example see the photo in the group below.)
The standard 7-inch, angled, touchscreen is responsive, but you’ll need to connect with Toyota Entune to get navigation. The system is compatible with Apple Carplay, Amazon Alexa, and new for 2021, Android Auto (in all grades but the Limited). It also supports Bluetooth and SiriusXM. Toyota’s voice control system works well and the 2020 Edition is equipped with a standard 6-speaker sound system.
The Prius is very roomy both in terms of leg- and immense head-room. In fact, the EPA classifies it as a midsize sedan. The 60/40 rear seats offer a cushiony center armrest. Back seat passengers don’t get air vents, but that’s where you find 2 USB ports and large seatback pockets The cargo area is roomy and has a tonneau cover. I found the cargo hatch lid heavy using the grab handle.
What you should know first about the hybrid powertrain is that it’s been around awhile. It’s the same one I drove in 2017: a 1.8-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors paired to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (e-CVT.) Total system output is still 121-horsepower and 105 lb.-ft. of torque. The acceleration feels surprisingly ok for its 3,075 pounds, but I’m still hoping Toyota bestows some more horsepower on the Prius soon. Of course, fuel economy continues to be a highlight, this model rated at 52 mpg combined.
Ride and Drive
The Prius hybrid isn’t a beneficiary of Toyota’s new edict to deliver more fun to drive, engaging, vehicles, at least not yet. So while it’s easy to drive and comfortable to get around in with a smooth ride, it’s not exciting. Power mode feels best over Normal and Eco in terms of accelerator pedal feel and confident merging. EV mode is not meant to get you far, very fast. My forward-wheel drive Prius didn’t didn’t need AWD-e to handle the wet roads I encountered confidently and the rain sensing wipers came in handy. However, there was more engine and road noise that I would have liked at highway speeds. Since the Prius has regenerative braking, you get a bit of pushback when you come to a stop.
New for 2021, the Prius lineup is updated with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 which includes Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist, Auto High Beams and Road Sign Assist. Dynamic radar cruise control worked well as did lane departure assist with steering assist.
Additionally the 2020 Edition comes standard with Blind Spot Monitor with Rear cross Traffic Alert, along with intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) with Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA).
My test vehicle sports $90 cargo mats, a $69 rear bumper applique and $299 illuminated door sills. If you want my test model’s glass breakage sensor that’s an extra $359.
The Prius 2020 Special Edition will no doubt excite cult followers of the respected hybrid who value fuel economy above all else. But if you’re looking for a hybrid with more horsepower, albeit with some sacrifice to fuel economy, Toyota has some other options that may be more attractive: the Camry hybrid with 208-horsepower starts from $27,270 and the RAV4 hybrid with 219-horsepower from $28,650.
2021 Toyota Prius 2020 Edition
- What I liked most: Exterior, roominess, fuel economy.
- What I would change: Reduce cabin noise at highway speeds and look into the multimedia screen glare.
- MSRP: Base price $29,875, as equipped $32,112.
- Fuel Economy: 54 mpg city/50 mpg highway, 52 mpg combined.
- Official Color: Supersonic Red.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,767 miles.
- FWD, RWD or AWD-e: FWD-only. AWD-e is not available on this trim.
- Weight: 3,075 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Tire Repair Kit.
- Length-Width-Height: 180” long/69.3” wide/57.9” high.
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 11.3 gallons with fuel filler on the driver’s side.
- 2021 Toyota Prius 2020 Edition in a few words: A special edition sure to excite Prius fans who like its fuel efficient, pioneering status.
- Final Assembly Location: Aichi, Japan.
- Manufacturers website: Toyota
- Warranty: 3-year/ 36,000-mile Comprehensive; 5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain; 8-year/100,000-mile Hybrid Related components;3-year/36,000-mile (all components other than normal wear and maintenance items).