There was a time when buying a hybrid car meant that you had to shell out big bucks for the privilege of better gas mileage.
But with the first Toyota Prius hybrids now over 10 years old, can you buy a used Toyota Prius hybrid for $5,000 or less?
We hit popular Internet auction site eBay to find out.
In our search for a great used Prius, it quickly became apparent that Toyota Priuses, regardless of age or mileage, retain a high resale value on the used car market.
There are many reasons for this. First, with rising gas prices, demand for high gas-mileage hybrids has helped keep the retail value of used Prius hybrids high.
Second, with excellent reliability, and negligible performance and economy degradation over time, any generation of Prius still represents good value for money.
As a consequence, we found very few Toyota Prius examples on sale for less than $8,000, with most used Priuses claiming a buy-it-now or winning bid of between $8,000 and $20,000.
However, if you’re willing to go for the first-generation 2000-2003 Toyota Prius Sedan, it is possible to bag yourself an early example of a Prius bargain.
With 144,000 miles on the clock, this 2003 Prius Sedan is in average condition for a car of its age, with the seller listing some minor body damage and two worn front tires.
Look for slightly older cars with higher mileage, and cars like this 2002 Prius Sedan, with 163,000 miles on the clock.
Currently just $2,225 with two days remaining, this particular light blue Prius sedan looks to be in good condition, with only the usual age-related scratches and blemishes.
Newer cars possible
2002 Toyota Prius
2002 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo
Although we didn’t find any newer cars for sale on eBay below our target price of $5,000, it may be possible to finder newer Prius at private sale for that magic figure.
However, it’s worth noting that any newer cars, like the 2004-2009 Toyota Prius, are likely to be well above the target $5,000 price range unless they have extremely high mileage or poor condition bodywork.
As with any used car, finding the right used Toyota Prius at the right price can be a time-consuming exercise.
Before you make any buying decisions, be sure to check out our used Toyota Prius buying guide, and try to see the car first-hand before committing to buy.
And while most hybrid battery packs will outlive the life of the car they are put in, it’s worth asking to see service reports for any used Prius to ensure that you won’t be paying for a new hybrid battery once you’ve purchased the car.
2004 Toyota Prius
2004 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo
As with any older car, a little care is needed if you’re looking to buy a used Prius for under $5,000.
But it is possible.
With the right patience, and a little bit of luck, it’s now possible to find a reliable Prius sedan or early hatchback at less than one-fourth to one-fifth the cost of a new 2012 Toyota Prius.
Have you recently purchased a used Prius? Where did you buy it from, and how happy are you with your new, used car?
Let us know in the Comments below.