Should You Buy a 2001 Prius?

The first-generation Toyota Prius hybrid offers unbelievably high gas mileage and an affordable price—although it’s a bit outdated.
Written by Brad Marley
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
May 16, 2022
The 2001
Prius
was the first of its kind, delivering unprecedented gas mileage in the form of a family vehicle. Even two decades after its release, it still gets upwards of 40 mpg, making its average price tag of around $5,000 an affordable choice if you can find one in good condition.
The Prius was
Toyota
’s first hybrid-electric to be sold in the United States. After debuting in Japan in 1997, the model sold 41,300 first-generation models stateside.
While this model is simply designed and comes with minimal frills, it still does what it was designed to do: get high gas mileage.
If you’re in the market for a used Prius, you’re in the right place. To give you the deets on one of the first hybrids to hit American shores,
car insurance
super app
Jerry
has created a guide to the 2001 Prius. We’ll cover all the important specs, the benefits and drawbacks of buying used, and some simple hacks for saving on Prius insurance with Jerry’s
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Is the 2001 Prius worth it?

In short: yes. The 2001 Prius is very affordable, with the fair market range coming in at around $2,500 to $4,000. While it might not be as catchy as some of the newer electric hybrids on the market, you have to keep in mind that it was released two decades ago. 
Let’s face it: if you’re buying a 2001 Toyota Prius, you’re not buying it to turn heads—you’re buying it to save money on mileage. And the Prius will do that for you. Excellent fuel economy is the top desirability trait and will more than make up for the lackluster looks.
The Prius also has low depreciation when it comes to
green cars
, making it a good choice for a used hybrid. But is the 2001 Prius worth buying used? Let’s take a closer look at that model year. 

Cost

Affordability is a major selling point. The 2001 model runs anywhere from about $2,500 to $4,100 in fair market range. That’s impressive for a hybrid that has been on the market for two decades. The Prius value holds well and should continue to do so, even as newer models hit the market.
Here’s how Kelley Blue Book’s predicted fair market range for the 2001 Prius Sedan 4D breaks down:
Trim level
Fair market range (dealership)
Typical dealership listing
Private party
2010 Toyota Prius I
$2,500-$4,100
$3,650
$3,250
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The cost to buy a 2001 Toyota Prius Sedan 4D is about 20% of the cost of buying a new 2022 Toyota Prius. If you aren’t ready to increase your budget to buy new, going after a 2001 Prius might be a good stop-gap measure to save money on fuel while you wait to invest in something newer down the road.

Specs and performance

The 2001 Prius wasn’t designed to win any races. It came complete with a 4-cylinder hybrid engine that could get up to 1400 horsepower and 0-60 in a pedestrian 13 seconds. 
We’ve seen cars with better aerodynamics, but this version of the Prius can still get about 41 mpg combined while squeezing in a family of five on its best day. This fuel efficiency was earth-shattering at the time, laying the groundwork for other hybrid-electric vehicles that were to come.
Even though the design seems dated and the interior not generally associated with the more comfortable arrangements of today, it’s still going to chew up miles for pennies on the dollar in comparison to the gas guzzlers you see on the road now.

Complaints

According to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
and
CarComplaints.com
, there have only been 174 official complaints about the Prius. Most that have popped up include electrical problems and issues with wheels and hubcaps
The biggest problem with the 2001 Prius is engine issues. Most complaints have been centered around vehicle speed control and engine cooling issues—but these are not major fixes, per se. Don’t be wary of the possibility of making major fixes if you decide to invest in this car.

The bottom line: you could do worse

If you’re in the market for a hybrid, don’t let the age of the vehicle turn you off. By all accounts, the 2001 Toyota Prius is worth the investment if you are solely looking to save money on gas and drive as many miles as possible. 

Is it better to buy a used Prius or a new Prius?

Whether a new or used Prius is right for you will ultimately come down to a handful of factors, including cost, efficiency, and safety—and where your priorities lie. 
If you’re most concerned with upfront costs, you might be better off buying used. You can find a used 2001 Prius in good condition for as little as $2,500—a steal compared to the $25,000 sticker price of a brand-new Prius. 
If your budget has room for a nicer car, a new Prius might be good choice. The 2001 models pale in comparison to the models of today. USB ports, heads-up driving displays, and a touchscreen monitor are just a few of the advancements.
If you want to
customize your Prius
, buying new is your best option—but, if that’s outside your price range, there are plenty of
cheap and easy mods
to help you make your used Prius your own. 
If your lone goal is to cut down on fuel costs, the 2001 Toyota Prius will do that for you at a low cost of entry. The Prius Sedan 4D gets 42 mpg in the city/41 on the highway and 42 mpg combined.

Pros and cons of owning a Prius

Pros

The Prius is known for reliability, efficiency, and affordability. It has solid reliability ratings—so whether you buy new or used, you’ll be getting one of the
most reliable vehicles
available. 

Cons

The downsides come in when it comes to styling, speed, and comfort—but that’s a driver’s preference. If you’re not concerned with jamming a large family into the Prius, then aesthetics might not matter.
If you want to burn rubber, look elsewhere. It takes nearly 13 seconds to go from 0 to 60, so no one is buying it to win time trials. If you think a slow car is going to frustrate you, check out quicker hybrids like the
Honda Insight
.  

How to find the best Prius insurance

No matter which Prius you choose, a car this unique deserves a car insurance policy that matches its benefits. With
Jerry
, the car insurance comparison super app, you shop for a policy in just 45 seconds.
That’s right: with Jerry, comparing car insurance quotes is about as easy as sending a text! No unnecessary forms, no waiting on hold, and no unwanted phone calls—and your annual savings could add up to an average of more than $800! 
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