Toyota Prius

Toyota’s Prius has been the poster car for those looking to lead a greener life since its second-generation model came online for 2004. Now in its fourth generation, today’s Prius isn’t quite as ubiquitous as it once was, thanks in part to low gas prices, changing consumer tastes and arguably, genuinely weird styling. Today’s Prius has been on sale since the 2016 model year, and the gas-electric hatchback continues to be one of the most efficient cars on the road, while offering markedly more engaging handling dynamics than its forebears.

Starting at $23,475 before options and delivery, the 2018 Prius also features standard lane-departure alert, adaptive cruise control, and pre-collision with auto-brake and pedestrian detection. The 2018 Prius offers fuel economy as high as 58 miles per gallon city, 53 highway and 56 combined. If you are looking for the greenest possible model, however, you might want to check out the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime, which offers 25 miles of all-electric range, a more sophisticated infotainment interface and a slightly more conventional appearance.

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Editors' First Take

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People are quick to make fun of the Toyota Prius, and I understand why: It looks kind of weird, and its earliest adopters were maybe a bit too smug. But people capable of looking past that bullplop quickly realize it's actually a versatile, competent and, yes, extremely efficient hybrid hatchback.

Perhaps that's why Toyota isn't terribly worried about the continued success of the Prius in the face of automakers slashing non-SUV lineups. The company expects to sell about 50,000 examples of the Prius liftback in 2019, in addition to the 4.3 million it's already sold. Furthermore, about 25 percent of next year's sales are expected to come thanks to the latest trick up the Prius' sleeve: all-wheel drive.

Tiny motor, not a big difference

For the 2019 model year, the Prius finally gains all-wheel drive in the US, having had it in Japan for a couple years. This new setup, which Toyota calls AWD-e, takes up about 25 percent less space than the larger rear-axle AWD system found in the RAV4 and Highlander, all in the name of efficiency.

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