Her + His Car Reviews

2021 Toyota Prius XLE AWD eHybrid

Our car reviews are innovative and interesting as we provide insightful and expert reviews from both Her + His perspectives.

Her: Anne Fleming, Car Buying Advocate, women-drivers.com
His: Don Hammonds, Writer, AutomobileJournal.com 

$31,629 $31,629
The 2021 Toyota Prius XLE is a great vehicle and a phenom hybrid. For those interested in hybrids, it ranks very well, a sit boasts an amazing 52 miles per gallon, c'mon, simply superb. The powertrain is a 1.8 liter four cylinder engine and an electric motor - between them they combine for 121 horsepower. Acceleration is sound, but to be clear, the vehicle is simply not capable of providing strong and acceleration of other vehicles with this size engine. For most driving situations, we found this Prius comfortable and quiet, a rather nice driver.

The vehicle rides responsively. We appreciated the All-Wheel Drive in the December cold and slush. The powertrain transitions between the electric motor itself and the gas engine. The transmission is CVT.
Wow! Big surprise here. Other hybrids have been panned for being too slow, but you won't hear anybody but speed crazy car writers saying that about the Prius. The Prius, really, really accelerates immediately and lustily when you hit the pedal. And don't even think of worrying about passing on the highway--the Prius moves forward briskly and quickly past anything including big tractor trailers.

The Prius uses a Hybrid Synergy Drive System, AT_PZEV, with a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine, EV/ECO/ Power modes, and would add that there is a big difference if you use the Power Mode. You are in for a present surprise.
Fuel Economy
51 City, 49 Overall and 47 Highway. Best of Class. The Prius is rated at 49 miles per gallon overall, with readings of 51 miles per gallon for the city and 47 on the highway. But we actually did a mile or two more on each of those measurements while we had the Prius.

The Prius uses only two gallons of gas to drive 100 miles, and you can SAVE $3.250 in fuel costs over five years compared to the average new vehicle. Annual fuel costs are about $850 based on driving 15,000 miles a year for five years using gasoline that costs about $2.70 per gallon.
The Car
Over twenty-years of Priuses and this year's version is not quite a Pete-and-Repeat. While the exterior hold true to the P-R-I-U-S trademark design (oh, sure, there's been updates year in and year out), one either loves the look of the Prius or not. It's quiet cabin and luxe dashboard, as well as tech and safety make this quite the vehicle to drive. And the price point makes it a tremendous value, with the AWD.

The vehicle does not feel all the substantial to the driver, as it weighs about 3,000-3,200 pounds, depending upon your model.
Everyone knows the history of the Prius! It's the pioneer of mainstream hybrid driving, and it basically is the same kind of car it was back then: Fun to drive. Vastly economical. Quiet. But now you can add peppy and fun to drive on its list of positives.

Previous generations were not nearly as lavish and full of luxury features as the current models of the Prius now carries, and I think people will be pretty surprised at just how much you get with the Prius--it is quite a value for the money.
Driver Air Bag, Front, Head Air Bag, Rear Head Air Bag, Rear Side Air Bag, and Front Side Air Bag, All Wheel Drive, Electronic Stability Control, Brake Assist, Disc Brakes, Daytime Running Lights, Child Safety Lights, LATCH.

Push Button Start Traction Control, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning. Auto High Beams, Blind Spot Monitor, Intelligent Clearance Sonar w/ Park Assist. Safety Connect with 1-Year Free Subscription.
10 airbags; Star Safety System, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0; Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Automatic high beams, road sign assist; Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Intelligent Clearance Sonar with Intelligent Park Assist; Three Door Smart Key System with Push Button Start; Safety Connect with one year trial.
There is plenty of Tech to discuss in this year's Prius:

Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa for starters. The touch screen is 11.6" monitor, navigation, head-up display, JBL speaker system and 10-speaker audio system, 3 USB ports, WIFI hot spot, push button start, and Bluetooth. There is also automatic climate control.

Adaptive Cruise Control, Rearview camera, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and road sign recognition, rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. Tire Repair Kit.

Lastly, there is Satellite radio, HD Radio, Active Park Assist, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Moonroof. Optional safety features include active park assist, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring.
Integrated fog lights, LED accent lights; auto On/Off Bi-LED headlights, LED DRLs; heated outside power mirrors, rain sensing wipers; 7 inch Touchscreen; six speakers; hands free Bluetooth phone/music, USB Media Port; two USB Charge-Ports; SiriusXM with three month all access trial; Android Auto & Apple Car Play Compatible; Softech-trimmed Heated front seats; 60/40 Split Folding Rear Seat; heated steering wheel; Wireless Smartphone Charger; Tire Repair Kit.
Aesthetics & Styling
For starters, the 2021 is a 5-door hatchback, so there no change. What this means to the buyer, is that there is terrific opportunity for cargo and luggage packing, as well as tremendous versatility for short or long hauls. On the inside, we found the seats to be very comfortable, and leg room up front, ample. Leg room for back-seat passengers was more limited.

We liked the two-tone leather seats - quite comfortable and adjustable. Cup holders a plenty. Blind spots were minimized.

The blue accent lighting on the dash still is reminiscent of TRON but gives it a cool look. The utilitarian aspect of the vehicle with its high gloss black accents occurs as a juxtaposition. There are still some aspects of the Prius that make this a niche model, not yet open to the public and masses. The parking brake was a nuisance, and is "members only", as I was having a time of it.

The front grille needs some updating as it looks like an elasmobranchii. It would not take the Toyota designers much to keep the fašade of the Prius but to give it a more modern handle and appearance. That is my vote.
This is a tough call because the expectation of buyers when the Prius was first introduced have since changed. Hybrid cars were supposed to look unusual, to stand out so that the buyers could say "I'm a hybrid owner" with pride. But times have changed.

Hybrids have grown and are now present in every conceivable form of vehicle, and thus, you can find them in attractive, stylish versions of many kinds of cars and trucks.

And there are plenty of good looking Toyota and Lexus hybrid products out there that prove my point. Toyota has done a great job--maybe the best in the industry--on making hybrid products look good. But the Prius is a bit behind the curve on this.

It still looks unusual enough to be a turn off to people who are automotive style mavens---like yours truly!

It just has so many angles, curves, sharp lines and otherwise usual elements and it just does not fit together as a unified whole. Sorry.

There is so very much to love about the Prius, and I would buy one in an instant, but not with the styling presentation that it has now.

Inside, the interior looks like a spaceship, as if to promote its no-longer unique status as a hybrid product. Fit and finish is terrific as is the choice of materials and presentation, though there are a few spots where hard plastic is evident.

But overall, I would not say that the interior is warm or inviting or cozy and comforting. In fact, it looks cold and stark to me. I think that the design of the rear window still takes some time to get used to, and the gearshift pattern is odd enough that it will take a lot of time for some folks to get used to and avoid mishaps in how they shift.

Overall, I think that it's time for Toyota to bring the Prius more into the mainstream. The days of far-out styling and presentation no longer is a requirement to be successful in the hybrid field.
3 Year/36,000 Mile Basic Warranty. 5 Year/60,000 Mile Powertrain Warranty. 8 Year/150,000 Mile Hybrid System Battery Coverage. 3 year/36,000 mile basic coverage; five year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty; and eight year/150,000 mile coverage for the Hybrid system battery.