Post-Peak: The 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

Front 3/4 view of 2020 Toyota Prius Limited
The 2020 Toyota Prius Limited.
Eight years ago, the Toyota Prius was on a roll.  Upwards of 200,000 copies sold in 2012.  Last year?  Just under 70,000.  And that figure is for the "Prius family", which includes the Prius Prime and the now-discontinued Prius C.  Oh, yeah---and that just under 70,000 figure is off 20% from 2018.

Rear 3/4 view of 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

What happened?  Lots of things.  The radical re-style for 2016 came as sales were beginning to cool off and, despite evidence that Prius buyers liked unusual styling, seeing it as a way of announcing to the planet that they were saving said planet, it would appear Toyota went a bridge too far.

Then there were the electrics---cars that needed no gas at all, like the Chevy Bolt, the Kia Niro EV , the vastly improved second-generation Nissan Leaf, and, of course---Tesla.

And there were people who, come trade-in time, decided they wanted something bigger, nicer, and fuel economy didn't matter as much.  People who bailed on hybrids and EVs altogether.

But the Prius is still here.  And though 70,000 copies in a year isn't setting the world on fire, it's also not extinction.  It's only 3,000 fewer sold than there were Ford Mustangs last year.  It's more than several dozen other cars, including the BMW 3-Series and Lexus ES.

Hybrid powerplant in 2020 Toyota Prius

Under the hood, it's a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor.  The combined output is 121 horsepower.  There is no Ludicrous mode.  Zero to 60 will take ten seconds.  Maybe ten and a half.  What you get in return for your patience is an EPA-estimated 54 miles per gallon in the city, 50 on the highway.  Your mileage may vary, but my experience is that I always hit the EPA number in a Prius.  Can't say that about every car.

Rear hatch open in 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

Interior view of 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

Rear seat in 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

Front seats in 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

Our tester was the 2020 Toyota Prius Limited.  Base Price $32,375 with the following as standard equipment:

  • Toyota Star Safety System (Vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and smart stop technology).
  • Toyota Safety Sense (Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and automatic high beams)
  • Blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Intelligent clearance sonar with intelligent park assist.
  • Automatic on/off bi-LED headlights and LED daytime running lights.
  • Adaptive front lighting.
  • Heated power outside mirrors.
  • Rain-sensing wipers.
  • Premium JBL audio system with ten speakers, an 11.8-inch touchscreen, integrated navigation, subwoofer and amplifier, handsfree Bluetooth phone and music, one USB media port, two USB charging ports, a three-month trial of SiriusXM Satellite Radio and SiriusXM All Access, Siri Eyes Free and Apple CarPlay.
  • Dual 4.2-inch multi-info color displays.
  • Head-up display.
  • Softex-trimmed heated front power adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support.
  • 60/40 split folding rear seat.
  • Heated steering wheel.
  • Three-door smart key system with pushbutton start.
  • One 12-volt power outlet.
  • Qi-compatible wireless phone charger.
  • Tire repair kit.
Instrument panel for 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

Instrument display for 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

And before we go on, one word about the 11.8-inch touchscreen:

11.8-inch touchscreen in 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

That word is "glare".  Doesn't matter what direction the sun is, the glare and reflection on this monitor is a deal-killer.  Unless it's nighttime (when it still reflects any light out the passenger window or approaching from behind), you'll be fighting reflections constantly.

Our tester did have some extra-cost options, as well:

  • Premium Convenience Package (Power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade and 15-inch alloy wheels): $515.
  • Illuminated door sills: $299.
  • Alloy wheel locks: $377.
  • Courtesy delivery: $65.
Front view of 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

Rear view of 2020 Toyota Prius Limited

With $955 handling fee, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $34,586.

Regular TireKicker readers know that we're not in the practice of taking shots at cars, that one of the founding philosophies back in 2008 was that every car is probably the perfect car for someone.  But it is just hard to make the case for the 2020 Toyota Prius Limited.  There are more fuel-efficient vehicles that are faster and better looking and, after tax credits, work out to about the same money.

That said, if anyone could develop a compelling next generation of the Prius, it's Toyota.  Until then, though...