Should You Buy a 2009 Prius?

A 2009 Prius is an affordable option with great fuel economy, but frequent headlight issues and excessive oil consumption are a significant risk.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
May 18, 2022
If you’re shopping for an affordable used car that gets exceptional fuel economy, the 2009
Prius
is probably on your radar. However, you should beware of frequent headline issues and excessive oil consumption. 
The
Toyota
Prius has been synonymous with “great gas mileage” for years, and the 2009 hatchback remains popular despite a slew of competitive used options, especially considering its large interior and cargo area that makes it ideal for families. 
If you’re looking at the 2009 model year—which was the last year before the third-generation redesign—you’ll find plenty of affordable options. To help you sort through them all,
car insurance
super app
Jerry
has created this handy guide. It includes specs, discusses benefits, and lists drawbacks, as well as offers options for saving on Prius insurance with Jerry’s
expert assistance

Is the 2009 Prius worth it?

The Toyota Prius is a well-loved classic, and its 2009 model boasts superb fuel economy, a large interior, plenty of cargo room, and an adorable exterior. 
But is this used hatchback still a good option for you and your family? Let’s take a closer look at the specs. 

Cost

Toyotas are known for being quite affordable—the 2022 Prius starts at $25,650, making it an accessible hybrid even brand new. Obviously, a 2009 Prius will be even cheaper. However, because the model holds its value so well, it’ll probably be a bit more expensive than other used hatchbacks from the same year. 
Kelly Blue Book breaks down the fair market range for the three Prius trim levels that were available in 2009:
Trim level
Fair market range (dealership)
Typical dealership listing
Private party range
2009 Prius Standard Hatchback
$7,166-$9,759
$8,711
$6,119-$8,636
2009 Prius Hatchback 4D
$7,136-$9,733
$8,679
$6,211-$8,766
2009 Prius Touring Hatchback 4D
$7,198-$9,823
$8,685
$6,362-$8,985
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We crunched the numbers, and a 2009 Prius is about half to a third of the price of a brand new 2022 version. If saving money is your top priority, go used—but if you have the extra cash, shopping new is probably the most valuable option.

Specs and performance

The 2009 Prius was the very last model in the hybrid’s second generation, which launched in 2004. Designers focused on significantly increasing the car’s interior space, especially rear-seat legroom and trunk space. The car was also far more environmentally friendly than the previous model. 
This compact hatchback was powered by a 4-Cyl, Hybrid, 1.5 Liter engine that delivers a total output of 110 horsepower at 5,000 RPM. While that’s not too aggressive in terms of power, it’ll still get you from 0 to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds. 

Complaints

While 2009 wasn’t the worst model year for the Prius, according to customer complaints logged by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
and
CarComplaints.com
, customers still had some consistent and significant gripes with the model
What issue stands out the most? Lighting problems seem to overwhelm buyers. The 2009 Prius is likely to suffer from HID light failure, flickering headlights, wiring issues, and more. Fortunately, these issues seem fixable—but it’ll cost you an average of $200 to $300. 
Though less prevalent, several buyers also reported excessive oil consumption. While this issue seems to occur far more rarely, it’s important to note the potential side effects—including engine failure—that would be expensive or even impossible to fix. 

The bottom line: a reasonable option for a used vehicle

A used Prius is a great option if you want something affordable, reliable, and great on gas—but its frequent light issues could end up being quite the headache. Plus, the risk of engine issues is significant—especially if you don’t have extra cash for repairs. 

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

In addition to considering cost, you should also think about efficiency and safety, and then decide where your priorities lay (and how they intersect with your buying power). 
If you’re not able to afford higher upfront costs, then buying used is the obvious option. You can purchase a 2009 Prius in good condition for around $7,000—which is much more affordable than the $25,000 you’ll need to shell out on a brand new one. 
But, if you can afford a higher price tag, a brand new Prius will be safer, thanks to the 2022 Prius’s Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.0 tech. You’ll also benefit from increased fuel efficiency—the 2022 Prius is rated for a combined/city/highway mpg of 50/52/48, although the base L Eco trim can get up to 58 mpg during city driving, which is a big improvement from second-gen versions.
Another benefit of buying new? The ability to
customize your Prius
! Of course, you can still ball on a budget by performing some
cheap and easy mods
on your used model. 

Pros and cons of owning a Prius

Pros 

Prius owners love their cars for being reliable, efficient, and affordable. In fact, the model lands on our list of ten
most reliable vehicles to buy
, either new or used! This means that your 2009 Prius will hold its own against other makes and models from the same year.

Cons 

Your Prius won’t be the most stylish car on the road—especially if it’s an older model. While it’s down to personal preference, it’s definitely more of a conservative-looking family vehicle than a sporty sedan.
On the other hand, speed is a subjective weakness of the Prius. Taking nearly 10 seconds to get from 0 to 60, you won’t love your Prius for its pickup, and might be frustrated by its lack of oomph. If you want something a bit faster, look into a zippier hybrid—like the
Honda Insight
!

How to find the best Prius insurance

No matter what year your Prius is from, protect your reliable vehicle with reliable car insurance. 
If you want to save money on car insurance, the Jerry app is a good place to start. A licensed broker, Jerry does all the hard work of finding cheap quotes from the top name-brand insurance companies and buying new car insurance. Jerry will even help you cancel your old policy.
And to ensure you always have the lowest rate, Jerry will send you new quotes every time your policy comes up for renewal, so you’re always getting the coverage you want at the best price. This level of service is why Jerry earned a 4.6/5 rating on the App Store and made it the top insurance app in the country.
“When using
Jerry
, I was impressed at how their representative took care of my situation. He was so knowledgeable about my state’s insurance laws!” —Rabi B.
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