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2024 Toyota Prius Long-Term Review, Part 1: A Pioneer Not Ready for Retirement

2024 Toyota Prius Limited | Photo: M.Crépault
  • EPA Category: Compact Car
  • Warranty: 3 years / 60000 km
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Michel Crépault
Since its inception, the Prius has used one major argument to convince consumers to fall for it: its hybridity.

Auto123 puts the 2024 Toyota Prius to the in-depth test. Here is the first of our four-part review.

Everyone’s at least heard of the Toyota Prius. More than that: many thousands of Canadians are very familiar with it, and more all that time, because sales in May were 82 percent higher than in the same period 12 months ago. Toyota has sold over 110,000 Priuses of one type or another since the model debuted in Canada in 2000. This popularity is certainly justified.

Time traveling
After all the miles I've logged in all the SUVs and crossovers that have found there way to my driveway of late, I have to admit I'd forgotten what it feels like to drive a compact car. Nothing short of a shock!

But why specifically a Toyota Prius? Because it has one defining quality that, since its debut, has constituted a major sales pitch: its hybridity.

You might, in 2024, say ‘So what?’ All major carmakers offer hybrids and even 100-percent electric vehicles. But back in 1997, it was a different story.

27 years ago, the Prius was the world's first hybrid vehicle. Only it can lay claim to that honour.

Confusion
Wait, I see someone at the back of the room raise their hand. “Well what about the Honda Insight?” A smart guy. I’ll call him Elon.

Elon has a point, sort of. You could, depending on how you define it, argue that Honda was the first manufacturer to launch a hybrid automobile.

The Honda Insight, based on the J-VX concept presented at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show, was introduced in Japan in November 1999. Then in December in North America. Seven months later, in 2000, the Toyota Prius arrived in the New World.

“So I'm right,” says Elon, puffing out his chest.

Well no. Because Toyota unveiled its prototype hybrid vehicle at the same Tokyo Motor Show, but two years earlier, in 1995. And the first-generation vehicle went on sale in December 1997. Only in Japan, mind you, but nevertheless, it was the first mass-produced car to alternate between gasoline and electric power. Just not in North America.

1998 Toyota Prius
1998 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota
The Honda Insight
The Honda Insight | Photo: Honda

Two rivals, two destinies
Time would settle on a winner in this two-car battle between the great rivals. Honda ceased production of the Insight in 2022, while the Toyota Prius continues on in good health. In fact, the Prius continued collecting awards since its birth, and the fifth generation introduced last year, has added to the tally with a rather extraordinary double.

At the beginning of 2024, the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year (NACTOY) jury awarded it the coveted title of Car of the Year. A few weeks later, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) did the same.

From family to duo
In 1997, the Prius was born as a 4-door sedan. Since 2003, it has been transformed into a 5-door hatchback. Meanwhile, in 2012, a big year for the model, Toyota expanded the range by adding three new variants.

2006 Toyota Prius
2006 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota

First, the Prius v small crossover. The “v” being for “versatile”. Then there was the Prius c (for “city”), with its sub-compact format. Imagine a hybrid Yaris. Finally, the PHV, a Prius that was still hybrid, but plug-in. The generic name for this kind of vehicle is PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle), or simply plug-in.

Toyota dropped the v in the U.S. in 2017 due to sluggish sales. It did relatively better in Canada but there too it was pulled in 2018. As for the very urban Prius c, it was very big in Japan but less so here. It was dropped in 2019.

That was two swings and misses, but Toyota would avoid striking out thanks to the PHV. For the 2017 model-year, it became the Prime. The very next year, sales of the Prius Prime surpassed those of the regular Prius.

2024 Toyota Prius Limited, profile
2024 Toyota Prius Limited, profile | Photo: M.Crépault

Today, you can choose between two Priuses: the regular in two versions (XLE and Limited) with an MSRP starting at $40,530, and the Prime offered in three variants (SE, XSE and XSE Premium) starting at $42,431.

I first drove (in March, hence the snow on some images) a 2024 Prius Prime XSE (priced $46,279 as equipped), and I've just handed back the fob to a $45,779 Prius Limited. Take note that prices exclude taxes but include $1,860 for transport and preparation.

We'll lean more deeply into each in Part Two...

Michel Crépault
Michel Crépault
Automotive expert
  • More than 45 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 12 test drives last year
  • Attended more than 190 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists