First of all, a HUGE thank you to Toyota of Long Beach20 minutes ago
The hatchback body style of the Prius means there's plenty of room for cargo behind the back seat, although it's not the most spacious vehicle in this competitive set. Its dash-mounted shifter frees up room for storage cubbies in the front seat; rear cubby storage is limited to two unusually small door pockets and the small cupholders found in the center-seat pull-down armrest.
The popularity of the Toyota Prius is shrinking faster than the polar icecaps. In 2016, sales dipped below 100,000 units for the first time since 2004. Last year they fell 33 percent. With 2018 drawing to a close, Prius sales are down another 23 percent. Even with the arrival in January of the new 2019 AWD-e model—which Toyota says should be good for a quarter of next year's sales—the company's flagship hybrid is expected to sell just 50,000 units in 2019.
If you’ve always coveted a Tesla but didn’t want to spend close to six figures, this might be your route. It’s a mid-size electric car with plenty of technology, as expected with this brand. Additionally, the trunk is large enough to easily hold a mountain bike (as long as you fold the flat rear seats), and the interior cabin is large and comfortable. Consider the long-range battery version — approximated at an extra $7,000 — if you plan on driving longer distances.
Low gasoline prices are partially to blame, but Toyota is also culpable. Redesigned fascias for the 2019 model are its admission that when the fourth-generation Prius debuted for 2016, it was an ugly baby. With less-angry headlights and a smoother, more conservative look, the new face and derriere can only be seen as an improvement, one applied to front-drive and all-wheel-drive cars alike. Some resurfacing inside replaces the blinding-white plastic trim that seemed dated from new with piano black, polishing the idea that after 20 years the Prius is still an aspirational product.
When the vehicle is turned on with the "Power" button, it is ready to drive immediately with the electric motor. In the North American second generation Prius, electric pumps warm the engine by pumping previously saved hot engine coolant from a coolant thermos before the internal combustion engine is started. The delay between powering the car on and starting the internal combustion engine is a few seconds. The third generation Prius does not have a coolant thermos. Instead, the engine is heated by recapturing exhaust heat. A button labelled "EV" maintains Electric Vehicle mode after being powered on and under most low-load conditions at less than 25 mph (40 km/h). This permits driving with low noise and no fuel consumption for journeys under 0.5 miles (0.80 km). Prior to the 2010 model, the North American model did not have the "EV" button, although one can be added to enable the "EV" mode supported internally by the Prius Hybrid Vehicle management computer. For the N.American market, the third generation can remain in EV mode until 70 km/h (43 mph) depending on throttle and road gradient.
The Prius offers little in the way of driving enjoyment and refinement. Still, the steering effort is pleasingly weighted, and responses to your inputs are accurate—making the handling feel almost lively. Feedback from the road is non-existent, though, and feels numb on-center. Braking is a common gremlin for hybrid vehicles, which use a mix of regenerative and friction braking. Inconsistent or numb feedback from the pedal, as we experienced in the Prius, is often the trade-off and, combined with the low-rolling-resistance tires that most hybrids wear, can make for longer braking distances in our testing than we would expect from other similar-size non-hybrid vehicles.