Should You Buy a 2010 Prius?

Stellar fuel economy and excellent resale value make the 2010 Prius a great investment—but be cautious of engine issues.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
May 6, 2022
The 2010
Prius
delivered the hybrid’s best fuel efficiency yet, but oil consumption and other engine issues make it an iffy used car purchase
For years, when you thought hybrid, you thought Prius.
Toyota’s
hybrid hatchback has been a leader in the hybrid vehicle market for decades, and it’s remained popular even as dozens of competitors work to crowd it out of our hearts. 
If you’re in the market for a used Prius, you might be looking at the 2010 model year, which introduced the hatchback’s enormously popular third generation. To give you the low-down on this super hybrid,
car insurance
super app
Jerry
has created a guide to the 2010 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
expert help
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Is the 2010 Prius worth it?

The Toyota Prius is a classic for a reason—best-in-class fuel economy, cute styling, and outsize practicality in a small package have all made this hybrid hatchback a best-seller since its introduction in the US in 2001. 
It’s also got the lowest depreciation rate of
any green car
, making it an excellent choice for a used hybrid. But is the 2010 Prius worth buying used? Let’s take a closer look at that model year. 

Cost

Affordability is one of the Prius’s major selling points: the 2022 model starts at just $25,650, making it a highly accessible hybrid. But the Prius holds its value well, which means that used models like the 2010 Prius will cost more than many other used vehicles. 
Here’s how Kelley Blue Book’s predicted fair market range for the 2010 Prius’s five trim levels break down:
Trim level
Fair market range (dealership)
Typical dealership listing
Private party range
2010 Toyota Prius I
$7,585-$10,254
$9,342
$6,016-$7,611
2010 Toyota Prius II
$7,570-$10,235
$9,343
$6,004-$7,595
2010 Toyota Prius III
$7,465-$10,098
$9,332
$5,919-$7,492
2010 Toyota Prius IV
$8,174-$10,451
$9,617
$6,216-$7,871
2010 Toyota Prius V
$8,790-$11,891
$10,791
$6,970-$8,821
In other words, the cost to buy a 2010 Prius is between half to one-third of the price of buying new. If your budget’s limited, the savings could be essential—but if you’re able to buy new, it might be worth springing for the latest model. 

Specs and performance

The 2010 Prius was the first model in the hybrid’s third generation, and it represented a total redesign featuring a new body design with improved aerodynamics and record-shattering fuel efficiency (more on that later). 
A 1.8-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine and a duo of electric motors powered the all-new Prius, generating a total output of 134 horsepower—nothing to write home about, but nothing to sneeze at either. 
The real success of the 2010 Prius was a never-before-seen combined city/highway fuel economy of 50 mpg. That next-level efficiency, along with modern safety tech like lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and electric-assisted steering, make the 2010 Prius a hybrid to remember. 

Complaints

Here’s where things get iffy: 2010 was the Prius’s worst model year, according to customer complaints logged by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
and
CarComplaints.com
. With a staggering 2,608 NHTSA complaints and over 3,000 complaints on CarComplaints, the 2010 model year stands out for engine problems, brake issues, and headlight failures
The biggest problem with the 2010 Prius? Excessive oil consumption. Hundreds of drivers reported this issue with their Priuses, and in some cases the oil problem led to more serious damage. The expenses associated with excess oil consumption, especially if it leads to engine failure, could offset the savings offered by the Prius’s excellent fuel economy. 
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The bottom line: proceed with caution

While a used Prius can be a fantastic investment, the engine problems associated with the 2010 Prius make it a risky buy. 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 choice between a new or used Prius depends on a range of factors, including cost, efficiency, and safety. The right choice for you will depend on where your priorities lie. 
If you’re most concerned with upfront costs, buying used is a better bet. You can find a used 2010 Prius in good condition for as little as $6,000—a steal compared to the $25,000 sticker price of a brand-new Prius. 
If you can afford the higher price tag, you may be better off buying a new Prius. Although 2010 models had the option to add advanced tech like lane departure warnings, any car a decade old can’t hold a candle to the 2022 Prius’s Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.0 tech.  
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 main goal is cutting down 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, although the base L Eco trim can get up to 58 mpg during city driving. That’s not a lot better than the 2010 Prius, so you’ll pay less for the same efficiency by buying used. 

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. Those ratings are even higher for the 2010 Prius, which
J.D. Power
named the #1 vehicle in the compact car segment. 

Cons 

The downsides come in when it comes to styling, speed, and comfort—but some of these are matters of personal preference. If you’re a fan of the Prius’s snug hatchback aesthetic (and are under 6 feet), looks might not be a barrier to your entry into the Prius family. 
Speed, on the other hand, is an undeniable weakness for the Prius. With a 0-to-60 time of 10.8 seconds, nobody’s buying a Prius for its racing capabilities. If you’re prone to frustration in a slow car, you’re better off going with a quicker hybrid like the
Honda Insight
.  

How to find the best Prius insurance

No matter which Prius you drive, this one-of-a-kind hybrid deserves a car insurance policy to match its strengths. With help from licensed broker and comparison superhero
Jerry
, you can shop for that 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 $800+! 
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