Should You Buy a 2004 Prius?

Stellar fuel economy and excellent resale value make the 2004 Prius a great investment—but be cautious of exterior headlight issues.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
May 17, 2022
The 2004
Toyota Prius
offers spectacular fuel economy and an affordable fair market price, but hundreds of complaints regarding the model’s exterior headlights make investing in the used hybrid a gamble. 
The
Toyota
Prius has been synonymous with its hybrid powertrain for more than two decades—and rightfully so. For years, the hatchback has been a pioneer model for the development of hybrid vehicles across all brands and car types, and it remains a popular choice for eco-friendly drivers, even as dozens more hybrids flood the market each and every year. 
If you’re considering a used Prius for your next car purchase, the 2004 model might come across your radar.
Car insurance
super app
Jerry
is here with the highs and lows of the 2004 second-generation Toyota Prius. In this
comprehensive guide
, we’ll cover everything from the model’s key specs, the pros and cons of buying used, and the best methods for saving money on insuring your Toyota. 

Is the 2004 Prius worth it?

The Toyota Prius packs great fuel economy and attractive styling into a practical hatchback, making the model a best-seller since it was first introduced in 2001.
Even better, the Prius depreciates slower than any other
eco-friendly model
on the market, making it a great choice for used car shoppers. But when it comes to the 2004 Prius, is buying used a good investment? Let’s take a look at the details. 

Cost

Toyota brand vehicles are known for their affordability. Even the newest 2022 Prius model boasts an incredibly approachable MSRP of $25,650. Unlike other used hybrids, however, the Prius holds onto its value, meaning that buying a used 2004 Prius is going to cost more compared to other models from the same year.
Here’s how Kelley Blue Book predicts the fair market range for the 2004 Prius:
Trim level
Fair market range (dealership)
Typical dealership listing
Private party range
2004 Toyota Prius I
$4,000-$6,200
$5,540
$5,000-$5,200
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Generally speaking, a 2004 Prius is going to set you back one-fifth to one-fourth of the cost of buying a new Prius model. If finding the cheapest model possible is important to you, buying a 2004 model could be a great option, but if you’re more interested in a vehicle that’s going to last, it might be worth investing in a newer model. 

Specs and performance

The 2004 Prius was one of the first models introduced as part of the hybrid’s second generation. Boasting a tip-to-tail redesign and an improved fuel efficiency rating, the 2004 Prius built upon the legacy set by its first-generation counterparts. 
A 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine paired with dual-electric motors gives the 2004 Prius’ hybrid powertrain an output of 110 horsepower. While it’s far from the most powerful car on the market, it’s far from the weakest. 
Perhaps the best feature of the 2004 Prius is its spectacular fuel economy rating, offering 48 mpg in city driving and 45 mpg in highway cruising conditions. 

Complaints

No car is perfect, and the 2004 Prius is no exception. With 606 customer complaints logged by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
and 737 customer complaints logged with
CarComplaints.com
, the main issue facing the 2004 model year is overwhelmingly headlight failures
Hundreds of complaints regarding the 2004 Prius’s headlights have been issued over the last two decades, with CarComplaints.com reporting that the model’s biggest issue is that its headlights randomly shut off while driving. Headlight issues might seem less severe than engine problems, but untrustworthy headlights can lead to potentially dangerous collisions and poor visibility. 

The bottom line: proceed with caution

The 2004 Prius model is a bargain-hunter’s dream, but its associated headlight issues can make the vehicle more of a burden than a blessing. If you’re in the market for a Prius and don’t want to buy new, you’re better off going with a more recent model, such as the 2014 or 2017 Prius

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

The right choice for you will depend on whether you prioritize, cost, efficiency, safety, or other factors. 
If your main goal is to save money upfront on car shopping, then buying used is absolutely the way to go. Depending on where you look, you can easily find a used 2004 Prius for under $5,000—a fraction of the $25,000 price tag on the brand-new Prius. 
If safety is top of mind, then the 2004 Prius certainly can’t compete with the Safety Sense™ 2.0 tech available on the 2022 Prius.  
When it comes to buying a Prius that is uniquely your own, buying new offers up a host of
customization options
that just aren't available when buying used. That being said, if you can’t afford a new model, there are plenty of
cheap and easy modifications
you can make to your used Prius after the fact. 
If your main priority is to cut fuel costs, buying new or used are both decent options. The 2022 Prius is rated for a combined/city/highway mpg of 50/52/48, but the 2004 model offers a decent match of 46/48/45, especially considering that it’s nearly twenty years older in terms of hybrid technology.

Pros and cons of owning a Prius

Pros 

The major draws of Prius ownership are reliability, efficiency, and affordability. The Prius has solid reliability ratings, making it one of the
most reliable vehicles to buy
either new or used. 

Cons 

The downsides of the Prius are mostly concerned with the model’s style, speed, and comfort—all of which are lacking in one way or another. However, if you personally like the hatchback aesthetic and aren’t too tall to fit into the car comfortably, style and comfort might not be major barriers for you. 
Speed, on the other hand, is an issue for the Prius, regardless of personal preference. With a 0-to-60 time of 9.8 seconds, the 2004 Prius isn’t winning any awards

How to find the best Prius insurance

Regardless of which Prius model you choose to drive, finding the perfect insurance coverage to protect this one-of-a-kind hybrid is vital. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to find affordable and reliable car insurance coverage when you shop using the licensed broker and comparison app,
Jerry
.
In less than a minute, Jerry matches users with custom competitive quotes on car insurance from 50+ of the top insurance providers nationwide. We make the process of finding your next insurance policy a fast and hassle-free process by eliminating unnecessary forms, long phone calls, and unwanted emails. Not to mention that the average Jerry user saves over $800 a year on car insurance alone! 
“This app is all about savings!
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just saved me $193/month on my car insurance. They literally found me the cheapest policies out there and with better coverage! Seriously, just sit back and watch Jerry work its magic.” —Rachel B.
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