2017 Toyota Prius Three
Entry Price: $26,735
Price as tested: $30,186
This week, we’re driving the 2017 Toyota Prius Three, the midsize Prius hatchback sedan available in Two, Three and Four nomenclature models and six trims, ala Two, Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, Four and Four Touring.
Overall, Prius offers two other distinct Prius designs for all consumers to ponder. Featured are smaller and larger formats, with the smallest being the compact Prius c, which rides on a 100.4-inch wheelbase, uses a smaller 1.5 liter four cylinder and delivers 54 city and 46 highway. The “c” starts at just $19,560.
The largest is the Prius v, a station wagon style hybrid that finds its wheelbase stretched to 109.4 inches and has room for five and lots of cargo space. This Prius v uses the same engine that powers our midsize tester, specifically a 1.8 liter four cylinder.
When you add all these models together, today’s Toyota Prius shopper has a total of 16 distinct models to choose from ranging from a low of $19,560 for the entry Prius c to top line Prius v Five, which starts at $30,935. As for EPA expectations, both the midsize Prius and larger wagon deliver 54 city and 50 highway MPG ratings.
It’s the Prius heritage, however, that is so impressive. When introduced in the year 2000 it had to battle the already released Honda Insight for hybrid supremacy. In a contest similar to the early video tape recorder wars where Beta (smaller format) took on VHS (larger format), it wasn’t long until the VHS larger format won out and outsold Beta to became the clear winner.
In examining this initial hybrid war, it was December of 1999 when Honda became the first hybrid to hit the market with its small format Insight. Although Honda led the way in hybrid development and came to market sooner, when it came to passenger and cargo room, Insight’s two-door subcompact didn’t offer much. It was tiny, offered little cargo space and came only as a two-seater until 2009.
Toyota, meanwhile, hit the shores of America seven months after Insight, but in a more consumer friendly package. From its debut in 2000, Prius came as a four-door sedan with room for four to five passengers and a trunk big enough to haul the groceries. To this day, Prius is the king of the hybrids, regardless of other manufacturer efforts that, in all fairness, deserve much praise. But the Toyota Prius, just like the VHS video recorder, emerged as the clear cut sales champion.
Our 2017 midsize Prius Three carries 5.9 more inches of wheelbase than the compact Prius “c” for overall better ride characteristics. Under the hood, the 1.8-liter four-cylinder develops a net 134-horsepower, arrived at by combining the electric power output with the engine’s 13-1 compression engine (covered numerous times in this column). The transmission is Toyota’s electronically controlled Synergy Drive automatic (CVT), which is also standard in all models and offers two modes, an EV and Eco selection with EV being fully electric when the batteries are fully charged. Because the Prius Three is larger and heavier, don’t expect any record quarter-mile elapsed times but you’ll be pleased how peppy the package actually is. However, the ability to drive 25 miles on full electric power is quite impressive.
Cabin features are many including the majors like Smart Flow climate control, 7-inch hi-res navigation system with Entune stereo Sirius/XM, all the powers, keyless start and much more. The exterior deserves special note as the midsize Prius models are completely re-styled and feature a beautiful aerodynamic motif.
As for safety, 2017 Prius continues to impress as every model comes standard with its noted Star Safety System where four-wheel disc ABS, independent suspension, traction/stability control and all the airbags work in tandem to arrive at impressive 5-Star overall government safety ratings. If you order the Prius Three model, you receive the heralded Toyota Safety Sense package as standard fare (optional on lesser priced models). Included is a pre-collision braking system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, steering assist when weaving out of your lane and automatic high beams. Of all the features Prius Three offers, this superior safety package is tops.
Options on our tester include a $1,350 Advanced Technology package that features a power tilt/slide moonroof, sliding sunshade, head up display, navigation and hybrid system indicator. To me, I’d pass on this package as there’s not enough “tech” in here for the price. Another option I’d pass on is the illuminated doorsills for $299 and the carpet and floor mat package that adds another $343 to the price. Nowadays, you can find some nice aftermarket floor mat packages for much less. The last option is a $199 console, which adds some needed room for keys, phones, mints, pocket change and the such.
On the highway, Prius Three drives and handles fine, although road noise is a bit high. Noteworthy are top notch owner satisfaction records as few cars are as reliable as a Toyota Prius.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, 3,050 lb. curb weight, 11.3 gallon fuel tank, 5.1 inch ground clearance and 24.6 cu. ft. of cargo space.
Be it small, medium or large, Prius has a winner waiting for you at your area dealer, which is what you’d expect from the “VHS of Hybrids.”
Likes: New looks, fuel mileage, Toyota reliability.
Dislikes: Learning curve on navigation system, some road noise.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other Gatehouse Media publications.
Test Drive: 2017 Toyota Prius Three
2017 Toyota Prius Three