This writer has been fortunate to drive every generation of Toyota Prius, including the recently face-lifted fourth iteration of a five-door liftback sedan. Starting with the notchback sedan at the change of the century, Toyota has enabled drivers to travel pretty much guilt-free, offering a roomy sedan that sips fuel frugally.
This 2020 Toyota Prius Limited is a carryover from 2019, when all-wheel-drive was first introduced on the model (but not on this car). The Limited model is top of the lineup that does not offer plug-in capabilities.
Everyone has their own ideas about the looks of Prius, but assuredly, this is a recognizable vehicle, no matter whether it’s slab-sided like previous models or endowed with body creases and other aerodynamic tweaks, as is the 2020 Prius Limited hatchback. What stands out is the quality of workmanship on the car, whose seams and closures are excellent.
Being so familiar, the 2020 Toyota Prius adds an element of comfort through its design and with its running gear, which starts with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that emits a not-so-lively 95 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 105 lb-ft of torque at 3,600. The permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor adds another 120 lb-ft of torque and 71 horsepower, bringing the total to a claimed 191HP. It’s all very workable in real life, although leisurely in acceleration.
Toyota uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that in this application doesn’t appear to hunt and peck for the right gear as so many do; it’s smooth and accurate, comfortable to drive. MacPherson strut and multi-link suspensions work well with rack and pinion electric power steering to give the chassis a good, safe feeling over the road. The 35.4-foot turning circle is admirable for this 3,075-pound front-wheel-drive car, which feels a lot lighter and more agile than expected. Bridgestone supplies 195/65R rubber mounted on 15-inch twinned 5-spoke gray/bright alloy wheels.
Because it is Toyota’s top-line traditional (not plug-in) hybrid, the Limited model carries a hefty price tag compared to some of its peers. The total for this Sea Glass Pearl – an iridescent light blue – with black SofTex vehicle is $34,586, coming from a starting price of $33,330 including delivery. Toyota added its premium convenience package of power tilt/slide moonroof and 15-inch alloy wheels ($515), illuminated door sills at $299, a preferred accessory package at $377 and alloy wheel locks for $65 to reach that total.
What’s included in the entry fee is really impressive, as both driver and passenger have power heated seats, there’s a heated steering wheel, a lovely 11.6-inch touchscreen that doesn’t attract fingerprints and awesome JBL audio system with 10 speakers, subwoofer and amplifier. The Bluetooth™ hands-free phone and music system mates easily and quickly and there’s a single 12-volt but two USB plugs in the adult-sized rear seats to keep passengers occupied.
Count on LED lighting throughout this 2020 Toyota Prius Limited and the adaptive front lighting system makes night driving exceptionally safe. Toyota fits heated power outside mirrors and rain sensing wipers, all of which were needed as cold closed in on Southern California. Thankfully, we never needed to test Toyota’s exceptional five-star safety ratings or the many driver aids that are standard equipment on this Prius. We turned off lane departure as soon as we received this Prius.
I enjoyed using the heads-up display on this 2020 Toyota Prius Limited, with its speed, odometer, cruise info and posted speed limit, while the steering wheel offered audio and phone operation on the left, leaving the right side to access trip info, the heated steering wheel, lane departure and cruise following dimensions. Toyota’s traditional cruise control stalk on the lower right of the steering column is fitted and works just fine, especially if you’re familiar with Toyota vehicles.
At the base of the central stack, one accesses the seat heaters and the Qi wireless charger. The 12-volt, single USB, plus an auxiliary plug lie behind the cupholders, backing up to the bilevel central covered storage. Looking around the cabin, I found the outer vents have blue surrounds, another aesthetic that reminds that this is a hybrid vehicle. There’s a good amount of space in the rear of this cabin, with space for six-footers-plus.
This year’s model offers Amazon Alexa and support for AppleCarPlay, which is exceptionally easy to use. Toyota continues to ignore Android Auto. Toyota’s Safety Connect is standard on all 2020 Prius models, offering emergency response automatically.
Toyota has a cover for the 27.4-cubic-foot hatch area, which has a winglet bisecting the rear window. There’s also netting at the hatch entry and the area is nicely finished. This very short person finds the hatch opening too tall to close easily, but your results could be different. Both rear seats can be folded to add space for cargo.
Most people buy or lease a Toyota Prius for fuel mileage; the 2020 Limited model is rated at 54/50/52 mpg from its smallish 11.3-gallon tank. This particular vehicle has less than 2,000 miles on it, barely broken in but returned closer to 55mpg on the single tank of fuel used for nearly 400 miles.
Having driven every Toyota Prius model from the first, this latest offering is definitely the best to date. It’s comfortable, efficient, has the infotainment offerings nearly everyone desires, its technology is easy to access and, while the acceleration is somewhere south of leisurely, it’s a reasonably comfortable vehicle for everyday use. There are plenty of other options out there to try out before choosing the 2020 Toyota Prius Limited, but the company’s reliability and long-time advocacy for hybrid technologies makes it a wise choice.
Words and photos by Anne Proffit