What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Toyota Prius? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Toyota Prius celebrates its 20th anniversary as one of the best-selling hybrids in the world. It’s been sold as a subcompact car, a wagon, a plug-in hybrid, and now the compact hatchback comes with all-wheel drive and just one body style. Once an icon of environmental sustainability, the Prius paved the way for other hybrids such as the Kia Niro Hybrid and Hyundai Ioniq, but has been surpassed in popularity by hybrid crossovers such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and the Toyota RAV4, which last year usurped the Prius for best-selling hybrid in the U.S. 

Is the 2021 Toyota Prius a good car?

Review continues below

The Prius has been a good car for a long time, but the market shift to crossovers and automakers’ ability to offer hybrid crossovers with much greater cargo and passenger volume has marginalized the Prius. It earns the moniker “appliance car” for its pokey but efficient performance and for its geometric style. Still, impressive standard safety and convenience features, as well as a roomy cockpit, earn it a place at the compact table with a TCC Rating of 5.5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Toyota Prius?

Android users, rejoice! Like other carryover Toyota models, the 2021 Toyota Prius finally comes with standard Android Auto to complement Apple CarPlay compatibility in this binary world of mobile operating systems. Safety zealots might also celebrate because standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection gets accompanied this year by traffic sign recognition, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control that can go down to a stop and restart without driver intervention. 

The Prius has a face only the wind could like, with a mishmash of triangular and rectangular shapes that meld at the rear into a split-glass hatchback. The inside gets a more attractive finish when equipped with the available 11.6-inch touchscreen, but it mostly feels like a cross between a budget car and a quirky eco car.  

A 1.8-liter inline-4, an electric motor and batteries conspire to make 121 horsepower and return up to 56 mpg combined with the base L Eco model. Available all-wheel drive adds another motor on the rear axle for better grip and a slight boost in performance from the otherwise pokey Prius. 

The cabin can fit five, but the sloping roofline trims head room in the rear, so we’d recommend it for two or a young family of four at best. With rear folding seats on all but the base model, cargo volume matches or exceeds that of many small crossovers. 

The Prius comes well equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Amazon Alexa compatibility, keyless start, USB ports, and driver assist features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.  

How much does the 2021 Toyota Prius cost?

The 2021 Prius comes in L Eco, LE, XLE, or Limited trim with a two-motor all-wheel-drive system offered in LE and XLE. The L Eco starts at $25,520, including $995 destination fee, and offers the best efficiency and best value in the family, especially compared to the $33,645 Limited model.

The Prius Prime follows the same logic with a $2,300 upcharge on LE, XLE, and Limited trims. 

Where is the 2021 Toyota Prius made?

The Prius is made in Japan.