In 2003, I was on the Motor Trend jury that selected the 2004 second generation Prius as the 2004 Motor Trend Car Of The Year. I will always remember that it was a heated contest between the “rally twins” the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru WRX STi and hybrid Toyota. But in the end, it was a bold move to choose the hybrid game changer. Today, is not such a big deal but going back more than deacde it was a big deal.

Fast forward to 2017 recently I had the opportunity to sample the all new 4th generation Prius for the first time. The’s 2017 Prius hybrid embodies the original car’s same basic concept, that being an internal-combustion engine coupled to an electric motor, the latest version is both stylistically and technologically leaps and bounds better. The latest Prius now has lots of competition, but it remains the segment’s fuel-economy leader and is bolstered by a new model, the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Able to travel up to 25 miles solely on electric power, the Prime offers one more Prius competitor to challenge Ford’s C-Max Energi and Chevy’s Volt. With its slick new styling, refined interior, improved chassis and new standard suite of driver-assist technologies, the 2017 Toyota Prius remains the gold standard in hybrid automobiles.

Despite its small size and lightweight frame, Toyota’s 2017 Prius hybrid is amazingly rigid. A rigid chassis allows for a better suspension, which endows the Prius with surprising agility. Body roll in the corners is kept to a minimum and the steering, although not on par with the Mazda3 or Honda Civic, is light and precise. I found the overalll driving experience to best to date of any Prius model to date. . A couple of minor egonormic areas of improvement include giving some adjstablibilty to height of the heads up color sisplay, and changing the location of the frony heated seat switches which now are located too far ahead in the center console for my liking/

The Prius’ brakes are strong and capable and despite the skinny fel economy friendly tires hauled the Pruis down from speeds much better than anticapated. .. On the highway, the 2017 Prius hybrid delivers a smooth ride and a quiet cabin with very little wind or road noise evident. One downside is the Prius’ front seats that sit low to the floor, making entry and exit somewhat of a challenge for some drivers..

Although the shape seems familiar, with the same wedgy design theme, there’s more drama in the 2017 Toyota Prius compared to previous generations, which looked a little boring by comparison. Longer, lower and wider than its predecessors, with more character creases in the bodyside panels, the 4th-generation Prius has a strong curbside presence, as well as a distinctive going-away view. The lower hoodline contributes to improved aerodynamics the coefficient of drag (Cd) goes from 0.25 to 0.24and also enhances the driver’s forward sight lines. That is amazing exotic sports car like Cd number. I not a huge fan of the face of the vehicle but all other styling angles are grearly improved.

Some folks don’t care for the rear tailight treatment I myself like it and thinks it works quite well with the theme of the overall car.

The feature list for the basic Prius Two makes it clear that “basic” does not mean “stripper” for this car. Dual 4.2-inch customizable color information displays, 6.2-inch color touch screen, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD Entune audio, 2.0 USB port, Bluetooth streaming, Siri eyes-free, hands-free phone link, voice recognition, 3-mode driver pre-sets (EV, ECO, Power), cruise control, tilt/telescope steering column, cargo area tonneau cover, rearview camera, stability control, traction control and eight airbags. Toyota’s Safety Sense P includes full-speed dynamic cruise control, capable of bringing the car to a complete stop.

The interior on Toyota’s Prius Hybrid for 2017 employs two 4.2-inch color info screens with primary instrumentation parked atop the dashboard. Higher trims also include a color head-up display, as well as pedestrian detection. The instrument screens ride the center of the dashboard, reducing eye redirection, according to Toyota, though some think otherwise. Interior materials including the new synthetic leather was extra comfortable looking and feels quite rich. A low center-console height gives the front compartment a more open feeling, and the rear compartment feels roomier despite a very small reduction in interior volume and lower roofline compared to the previous generation. Yes as always it has that funky dash monted transmission selector I hold out hope that genaration five will change that feature

My Prius Four model had the Advanced Technology package adds a power tilt/slide moon roof with a sliding sunshade, and the color head-up display. The Premium Convenience Package includes a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, Entune 10-speaker JBL audio, advanced voice recognition, as well as the standard Prius Two and Three features, and a good many others. Premium Convenience is limited to Prius Four and Prius Four Touring trims.

Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has been adapted to a number of the company’s vehicles. It’s also been licensed to other carmakers. The latest electric motor is rated at 71 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque. Combined system output is down 13 horsepower at 121 horsepower compared to generation three, but efficiency is up. On all but the base trim, the electrical side of the powertrain is supported by a lithium-ion battery pack.

Fuel economy was fanatstic, rated at 54 city and 50 mpg highway with a 52 MPG combined number which is quite impressive. This is the best Prius to date hands down. My well euqipeed test vehicle was priced at 32,216.00 making for a great value as well.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD Automatic

Highlights

Value

Fuel Economy

Comfortable Front seats

Lowlights

A little slow 0-60 mph

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 5

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 10
Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Audio System 6

Value 10

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