Which Prius Is Best?

Kerry Gibson
Updated on Apr 10, 2022 · 4 min read
Japanese automaker Toyota began selling the Prius stateside in 2000. Having been in production for so long, the popular hybrid vehicle is bound to have a few bad years, and some outstanding ones. But, used car buyers want to know which Prius is best.
The car was first introduced as a four-door sedan, until 2003. That’s when it evolved into a five-door hatchback, and how it’s still sold present-day. The popular Prius remains a reliable choice, leading the green revolution in fuel efficiency. Its comfortable cabin and hybrid powertrain make it an ideal choice for economical daily driving.
Here are the model years worth investing in, and some to overlook.

Avoid these Prius model years

Common complaints for the Prius were malfunctioning headlights and an over-consumption of oil. The 2007, 2008, and 2010 models had the highest number of reported issues in these areas, making them the least reliable. The headlights are an obvious safety hazard. They would shut off suddenly, burn out, or fail to work at all. It was rectified by replacing the bulb or entire lighting module.
According to CoPilot, it cost owners around $1,500 to fix the problem of excessive oil consumption. This was typically solved by replacing the timing cover gasket. If left untreated, the burning oil would escalate to a much more expensive engine replacement. On average, the issue would occur after 100,000 miles.
The 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2011 models were also not immune to these engine and light problems, although they were slightly less frequent. For these reasons, as well as dashboards that malfunction, these Prius models are not recommended for purchase. 
In 2012 and 2016, issues with the Toyota Prius would occur at very low mileage. Owners would experience windshield cracking or the car refusing to start before they even reached 15,000 miles.

So which Prius is best?

Although older, a Toyota Prius manufactured between 2000 and 2003 is an excellent choice for used car buyers. There were almost no complaints about these first generation cars. The design may not be as aesthetically pleasing, but its fuel economy greatly makes up for it. These models rank highest for reliability and boast firm steering with foldable seats for extended trunk space.
Experts consider the 2004 Prius, the model’s first hatchback edition, to be one of the cleanest and most efficient cars on the road.
Motor and Wheels recommends any Prius from the 2013 to 2020 years. Complaints, if any, were minor and rare. Repairs, if any, cost between $1,500 to $3,000. There were absolutely no brake or engine issues from 2013 to 2015.
The Toyota Prius remains a very popular car. It’s very early years and most recent years are highly recommended to car buyers because any issues would have made an early appearance and are not likely to happen again.

Buying a used Prius

The best Prius years have a high second-hand value and long battery life cycle. Toyota pioneered the hybrid technology that is commonplace today. The Prius offers above-average reliability and fuel efficiency.
However, used car buyers should pay particular attention to certain areas of the vehicle. A close inspection of the air conditioning system, windshield, piston rings, and brakes is encouraged. Test drive the vehicle to look for any engine overheating, hesitation, or stalling. Certain models were also susceptible to faulty multi-function displays, due to poorly soldered connections in the circuit board.
Because the Prius is an eco-friendly option, Toyota replaced plastic and glass wiring with a soy-based coating. Unfortunately, this attracts rodents and unwanted electrical issues. Critics recommend closely examining the wiring.
Once you’ve decided which Prius is best and you’re ready to purchase, Jerry will find you the best car insurance. Download the super car app, answer a few questions in 45 seconds, and instantly receive quotes from over 50 top carriers. Jerry shops the best coverage for the best price.

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

√
No long forms
√
No spam or unwanted phone calls
√
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free