Generation 1.5 (2001-2003)

Toyota's Prius hybrid debuted in the Japanese market in 1997 with the internal designation NHW10, but a slightly revised NHW11 didn't reach North American shores until 2001.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 1.5 (2001-2003)

This first model is the only sedan in the Prius' almost 20 year history.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 1.5 (2001-2003)

The Prius was the world's first mass-manufactured compact electric car at it launch. Fuel economy, based on revised testing methods, was 42 city, 41 highway and 41 combined mpg.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 1.5 (2001-2003)

The compact was motivated by the Toyota Hybrid System, which mated a 70 horsepower, 1.5-liter gasoline engine with a 44 horsepower electric motor.

Photo by: Wieck/Toyota

Generation 1.5 (2001-2003)

The interior was spartan, by we can already see the hallmarks -- such as the eyebrow digital instruments -- that would define the Prius' dashboard design for years to come.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 2 (2004-2009)

In 2003, the next generation Prius debuted. Sold as a 2004 model with the XW20 internal codename, the second generation model solidifies Prius design language going forward.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 2 (2004-2009)

The Prius grows to a midsize class and transforms into a hatchback. Every Prius model that flows will have a similar hatchback profile.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 2 (2004-2009)

The new slippery body results in an aerodynamic 0.26 coefficient of drag.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 2 (2004 -2009)

The Toyota Hybrid System II under the hood mates a 1.5-liter, 76 horsepower gasoline engine with a 67 horsepower electric motor. Total system power is stated at 110 horsepower.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 2 (2004-2009)

The interior is more spacious than the first-gen, but retains the standard central screen and horizontal digital display at the base of the windshield. Like all Prius vehicles, there's no conventional gauge cluster ahead of the steering wheel.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 2 (2004-2009)

Toyota's Hybrid System II stores its electric energy in a 1.31 kWh nickel metal-hydride battery pack. That capacity and technology doesn't change much for two generations and four models.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 2 (2004-2009)

The EPA figures the Prius will do 48 mpg during city driving, 45 mpg on the highway driving and return 46 mpg combined.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

In 2009, the 2010 model year Prius made its debut. Of course, it was larger, more efficient and easier to live with.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

The third generation model hides major revisions beneath a body's design that doesn't change significantly.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

The coefficient of drag drops to 0.25, keeping the Prius in its position as the most aerodynamic production car on the road at the time.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

Toyota's Hybrid System grows to accommodate a 1.8-liter, 98 horsepower gasoline engine, which brings total system horsepower to 134 ponies.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

The interior design continues to evolve, becoming more futuristic in this third generation.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

The electronic shifter gains a jewel-like translucent blue hue.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

The eyebrow display at the top of the dashboard grows to accommodate and display more data.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

Despite being more powerful and larger, the Prius continues to grow more efficient.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Generation 3 (2010-2015)

EPA estimates grow to 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway and 50 mpg combined.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Toyota Prius v

Model number XW40 belongs to the slightly larger offshoot of the Prius family, the Prius v. The more "versatile" variant features more space for those who need it.

Photo by: Josh Miller/CNET

Toyota Prius c

Next, Toyota adds the compact, city-friendly Prius c to the mix. The smaller model is a bit more efficient in the city than the third-generation Prius, but a bit less on the highway.

Photo by: Toyota

Generation 4 (2016)

The fourth generation Prius arrived just this year with the internal designation XW50. The new model features a radically styled design. However, if you look closely, you'll see many of the hallmarks of Prius design.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

Like the previous two generations, the new Prius is an elongated liftback.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

Active and passive aerodynamic tricks help Toyota to further streamline the hybrid, reducing the coefficient of drag to just 0.24.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

The Hybrid System actually steps down in power. Peak system power is stated at 121 horsepower, but the transmission has been tweaked to use that power more efficiently.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

Inside, the cabin makes a major step up in maturity and fit and finish, but does so while keeping the elements that make a Prius a Prius.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

The electronic shifter retains its asymmetrical design and translucent blue material, but now features a tulip shape that is simply gorgeous.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

The eyebrow cluster at the top of the dashboard is now a full color array of displays that is as easy to interact with as ever, despite boasting more information than ever.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

Fuel economy jumps to 54 mpg in the city, 50 mpg on the highway and 52 mpg combined thanks to improved aerodynamics and a lighter lithium-ion battery pack.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

The split rear glass and vertical taillights are other hallmarks of Prius design that can be traced back to that second generation model.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Generation 4 (2016)

The details are a bit extreme, which causes many onlookers to recoil, but the broad strokes, silhouettes and themes still fall in line with the previous two generation models.

Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Toyota Prius Prime

And the future of Prius design looks even more extreme. The upcoming Prius Prime plug-in hybrid will evolve the design of the fourth-generation model when it hits the road later this year.

Photo by: Roadshow
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