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
Edited by Jessica Barrett
The 2010
Toyota Prius
delivered the hybrid’s best fuel efficiency yet, but oil consumption and other engine issues make it an iffy used car purchase.
  • The 2010 Prius has held its value well, so you can expect to pay around $6,000 to $10,000 for one.
  • Look forward to excellent efficiency at 50 mpg and safety features like lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and electric-assisted steering.
  • Watch out for engine problems, brake issues, and headlight failures with the 2010 Prius—and hundreds of customers report excess oil consumption that can lead to further damage.

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 bestseller 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. 


Affordability and its stable value are the Prius’s major selling points which means that a used 2010 Prius will cost more than other used vehicles.
Here’s how Kelley Blue Book’s predicted fair market range for the 2010 Prius trim levels break down:
Trim level
Fair market range (dealership)
Typical dealership listing
Private party range
2010 Toyota Prius I
2010 Toyota Prius II
2010 Toyota Prius III
2010 Toyota Prius IV
2010 Toyota Prius V
The bottom line: The cost to buy a 2010 Prius is between half to one-third of the price of buying new. 
If your budget is limited, the savings could be essential. However, 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:
  • New body design with improved aerodynamics
  • Record-shattering fuel efficiency—combined city/highway fuel economy of 50 mpg
  • 1.8-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine and a duo of electric motors, generating a total output of 134 horsepower
  • Modern safety tech like lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, electric-assisted steering, and stability control—plus some models have a backup camera and navigation system


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)
  • 2,608 NHTSA complaints and over 3,000 complaints on CarComplaints
  • Noted for engine problems, brake issues, and headlight failures 
  • Hundreds of reports of excessive oil consumption, in some cases leading 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. 

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 Toyota Prius for sale 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: Consider buying a new car. Although 2010 models had the option to add advanced tech like lane-keep assist, 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 EPA 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


  • Reliability: One of the
    most reliable vehicles to buy
    either new or used.
    J.D. Power
    named the 2010 Prius the #1 vehicle in the compact car segment.
  • Efficiency: With combined 50 mpg, it’s one of the best cars if you’re concerned about gas mileage.
  • Affordability: Used prices are around $6,000 to $10,000 for a 2010 Prius in good condition.


  • Styling: The snug hatchback aesthetic is best for people under 6 feet tall.
  • Speed: 0-60 time of 10.8 seconds—the
    Honda Insight
    is a quicker hybrid option.
  • Comfort: Comfortable front seats with decent legroom, but sloped roofline cuts into head space and cargo space.
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