Does The Toyota Prius Hybrid Hold Up? Consumer Reports: Yes

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2004 Toyota Prius

2004 Toyota Prius

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Gas prices are going up, smaller cars are better than ever, and once again, U.S. car buyers are turning their sights toward higher gas mileage.

For that, there's nothing that beats the 2011 Toyota Prius, with its 50-mpg combined EPA rating.

But will that Prius hold up? Will the battery pack and electric components work properly after the shine has worn off?

It's a valid question, and one that Consumer Reports considered recently when they reported on a 2001 Prius that had covered more than 200,000 miles.

Now the magazine covers another high-mileage Prius, this one the far more numerous second-generation model built from 2004 through 2009.

Their reader Anthony Frey drove his 2004 Prius hybrid from his home in Iowa City to the magazine's test facility in Connecticut. The car arrived with more than 215,000 miles on the clock.

Antony Frey with his 2004 Toyota Prius, Spring 2011, photo courtesy Consumer Reports

Antony Frey with his 2004 Toyota Prius, Spring 2011, photo courtesy Consumer Reports

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In standard acceleration and gas-mileage tests, Consumer Reports found that acceleration time had increased slightly, from the 10.5 seconds it had logged for a brand-new 2004 Prius to 11.3 seconds.

It also said that fuel economy had dropped from 44 mpg to 42 mpg, which it suggested might be attributed to different tires.

With gas at $4, that difference would cost owner Frey $4.32 every 1,000 miles, so it's not terribly significant in the grand scheme of things.

Consumer Reports concluded, "If you’re looking for a low-cost hybrid, you could do worse than a used Prius—even one with 214,000 miles on it."

MORE: Toyota Prius Battery: Life, Cost, Warranty--The Ultimate Guide

One more piece of evidence for hybrids' essential durability is the frequent use of hybrids as taxi cabs in major cities around the globe.

That's some of the most grueling duty you can imagine, and it should help lay buyers' fears about durability to rest.

If they're tough enough to stand up to pounding taxi drivers in big cities, what could you possibly do that would be worse?

[Consumer Reports]


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Comments (4)
  1. I wonder if the 2000 Honda Insight batteries hold up just as well. I hear more rumors of problems with them. Perhaps it is just rumors however.

  2. The first generation Insight batteries are about the only hybrid batteries that SORT OF fit the negative stereotype that many people are afflicted with. They DO fail frequently compared to other hybrid batteries, but they still commonly hit 150-200k miles per battery pack. Many packs were replaced under a recall in ~07 and many of those are now failing too.
    There are DIY doodads and tricks available which prolong the life of Insight battery packs tremendously so a determined owner can improve their chances dramatically.
    Still, the Insight is unique in that i consider it a safer financial bet to buy with a car w/broken pack and replace with new, than to buy a working one at the going price and take your chances.

  3. This is awesome news for Toyota. They made the Hybrid sector and they did that with solid cars. Now lets make American cars that are more efficient and well built. Come on Government Motors, make us proud.

  4. The Prius, at least here in US, is here to stay, and competition hasn't gotten any better than that. And it's going to get even better in the near future: A plug-in hybrid good to return about 100mpg, and minivan like of car that seats 6 or 7 and delivers 40mpg. I am looking forward to get into one

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