17 Best & Worst Toyota Prius Years (With Facts & Stats)

Launched in the US in the year 2000, the Toyota Prius is the world’s first mass-market hybrid car.

It’s well known for its great fuel economy, budget-friendly price tag and top-class reliability.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at which Prius years are the best and which ones you should steer clear of…

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Toyota Prius Are:

The best Toyota Prius model years are 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, and 2003. The worst model years of the Prius are 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Toyota Prius?

Listed below are the Prius years that deserve to be viewed as the best of the best…

2022 Toyota Prius

It should come as no surprise that some of the best Prius models are also the latest, cars are machines after all not fine wines.

The latest Prius models are the most technologically advanced and have the most up-to-date driver assistance features and safety tech.

The 2022 Prius introduced a Nightshade trim, similar to other Toyota models, which came in three metallic colors (solver, midnight black, and super white).

This model also comes with 17-inch alloy wheels for front-wheel-drive versions and 15-inch alloy wheels for all-wheel-drive versions. 

In addition, steering wheel and front seat heating became standardized across the board. 

  • Edmunds: 5.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 76 / 100

2022 Toyota Prius, Edmunds review:

“I’m thrilled we bought our Prius Limited when we did (early Jan, 2022) because it sure is paying dividends now with these gas prices. The trim model just feels luxurious on what is unfairly seen as a dorky sedan. Never thought I’d purchase a Prius…”

2021 Toyota Prius

The 2021 Prius stays true to form offering a dependable and fuel-efficient ride.

There were no significant changes for this model year, although a special Prius 2020 Edition was introduced to celebrate two decades of sales in the US.

This model year also saw the addition of pedestrian-and-bicyclist detection and automatic high beam headlamps as standard.

  • Edmunds: 4.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 76 / 100

2021 Toyota Prius, Edmunds review:

“There is a lot to learn for someone who has never driven a hybrid or a car with as much info on the instrument cluster as the 2021 Prius Hybrid LE with AWD. So far, the car is handling well and there is lots of interior space. I am entertained by the car’s evaluation of my driving efficiency after I turn the power off…”

2020 Toyota Prius

The 2020 Toyota Prius pretty much carried the same appearance and features as the prior 2019 model year but added a standardized 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system (which replaced the original 6.1-inch display system).

For the limited edition trims, however, the touchscreen size was bumped up to 11.6 inches. 

Along the lines of the infotainment system, Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay were also integrated for better connectivity and utility across different devices. 

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 71 / 100

2020 Toyota Prius, Edmunds review:

“In the beginning of the month I got into a horrific car crash. A semi hit my car and I drove into a concrete wall on the freeway at 75 miles an hour. Although my Prius is a total loss, I believe it saved my life. I have four broken bones and a lacerated knee. I walked out of that car. Unbelievable! I loved my Prius!”

2019 Toyota Prius

The 2019 Prius scored strong scores across the board from major auto review critics and consumers alike.

The 2019 model arrived with a moderately revised exterior (to counteract criticisms of the vehicle line’s appearance and style) and a brand new all-wheel-drive version, in an attempt to cater to more prospects. 

Stylistic updates include changes to the front and rear bumpers, additional paint colors, and better wheel designs. 

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 79 / 100

2019 Toyota Prius, Edmunds review:

“My husband and I have test driven the Prius since its inception. We never felt comfortable in it so never purchased it. We decided to try out the 2019 model, the XLE with lumbar support and we bought the car in June 2019. This car is fantastic. It is comfortable, even fun to drive, and the mpg is much higher than stated…”

2018 Toyota Prius

The 2018 Prius has received some criticism for its wacky styling although it still boasts fantastic fuel economy.

Not a lot of changes came with the introduction of the 2018 Toyota Prius.

The only significant revision was the addition of an 11.6-inch touchscreen for the higher-end trims. 

  • Edmunds: 4.6 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 83 / 100

2018 Toyota Prius, Edmunds review:

“I have owned a 11 Prius, 13 Prius V, 15 Prius V, 16 Rav 4 Hybrid, and now this one. I purchased this in Blizzard Pearl with Moonstone interior. I love the color combo. I purchased the 4 Touring for the power seat, and upgraded JBL stereo, it also had upgraded safety and self parking. It has excellent features, my favorites being excellent headlights w/auto high beams…”

2017 Toyota Prius

The 2016 Toyota Prius had the biggest overhaul but this came with a few teething issues.

The 2017 Toyota Prius, on the other hand, came to the rescue as it eliminated these issues whilst benefiting from the updated design, improved ride quality and accommodating cabin.  

  • Edmunds: 4.7 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 85 / 100

2017 Toyota Prius, Edmunds review:

“I’ve put over 2500 miles on my 2017 Prius Two Eco, including a drive out to Wyoming and back from Wisconsin. My expectations have been exceeded. Fuel economy is nothing short of amazing! It uses that battery a lot to enable it to run without the engine under light load…”

2015 Toyota Prius

The 2015 Prius is known for its superior fuel economy, an abundance of backseat room and comfortable ride.

Despite being a few years old now the 2015 model is still a solid all-around choice and it has received relatively few complaints.

A notable upgrade for this model was the rearview camera as standard across all trim levels.

  • Edmunds: 4.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.7 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2015 Toyota Prius, Edmunds review:

“The Prius sold me on reliability and comfort, I’m 5’6″ and it fits me like a glove. The controls work well. I moved from the Camry to the Prius but after 25mpg and frequent stops the 50mpg is a welcome improvement.”

2003 Toyota Prius

There were no major changes to the 2003 Toyota Prius over the previous model years but the major reason why this model year makes the cut is that it had strong consumer scores and a significantly low number of complaints, problems, and recalls.

We wouldn’t generally advise going for a car this old however if you do we would suggest having the car looked at by a reputable mechanic who is familiar with hybrid cars.

  • Edmunds: 4.9 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.7 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2003 Toyota Prius, Edmunds review:

“Our vehicle mileage just went over 100,000 miles. This car is amazing. We have averaged about 50 mpg for almost eight years. It’s so quiet.”

Consumer Scores For Best Toyota Prius Years

Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best Toyota Prius model years from reputable vehicle websites:

Model YearEdmunds’ 
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book’s
Consumer Rating
JD Power’s
Consumer Rating
2022 Toyota Prius5.0 / 5.04.5 / 5.076 / 100
2021 Toyota Prius4.4 / 5.04.5 / 5.076 / 100
2020 Toyota Prius4.3 / 5.04.5 / 5.071 / 100
2019 Toyota Prius4.5 / 5.04.5 / 5.079 / 100
2018 Toyota Prius4.6 / 5.04.5 / 5.083 / 100
2017 Toyota Prius4.7 / 5.04.5 / 5.085 / 100
2015 Toyota Prius4.4 / 5.04.7 / 5.082 / 100
2003 Toyota Prius4.9 / 5.04.7 / 5.0NA

What Are The Worst Years For The Toyota Prius?

The Toyota Prius has also been on the receiving end of several complaints and issues over the years.

Be cautious of the model years listed below...

2012 Toyota Prius

The 2012 Toyota Prius had a lot of issues at the time, with several reports stating that stepping on the brakes while driving led to intense car vibrations and certain warning indicators lighting up.

Here’s one owners account:

“While on the freeway, I was braking due to traffic and the car started shaking and the abs light, brake light and traction light all came on and remained on. The brake system did not operate properly, which nearly caused a collision.”

The 2012 Prius had a total of 59 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 637 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Brake failure
  • Car will not start
  • Entune (application to connect mobile device to car) is problematic

2011 Toyota Prius

Awarded with the infamous “Avoid like the plague” award by CarComplaints.com, the 2011 Toyota Prius had its fair share of problems across three major categories: service brakes, electrical system, and exterior lighting. 

Reports have indicated that standard brakes failed to engage while in motion, leading to an increased likelihood of accidents. 

The 2011 Prius had a total of 114 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 515 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Brakes not working
  • Traction control and ABS lights on 
  • Air conditioning went out

2010 Toyota Prius

Avoid this model year like the plague, according to CarComplaints.com, and rightfully so.

The 2010 Prius amassed a combined total of approximately 3,500 problems and complaints and is statistically the worst Prius model year to date.

The biggest mechanical issue that was deemed to be a significant safety hazard was that the brakes constantly failed to engage. 

Here is one owners testimony:

“The brakes failed on the vehicle and I lost all ability to stop. Several dashboard lights were triggered about the loss of abs and braking. I was able to stop the vehicle only through the emergency brake. The Toyota dealer indicated that the problem was a failed brake booster and brake booster pump assembly. There have been numerous complaints about this issue and Toyota needs to recall and repair this issue.”

The 2010 Prius had a total of 313 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 3,232 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Braking failure
  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Paint peeling
  • ABS, brake, and traction control light came on
  • Master cylinder failed 

2009 Toyota Prius

The 2009 Toyota Prius suffered from braking issues due to a failed brake actuator.

This led to uneven braking or failed braking which ultimately led to safety issues and lower fuel efficiency ratings. 

The 2009 Prius had a total of 104 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 596 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Failed brake actuator
  • HID light failure
  • Headlight flickers then goes out
  • Anti-skid light, emergency brake light on

2008 Toyota Prius

The 2008 Toyota Prius had various electronic issues, although most complaints pertained to malfunctioning headlights that would turn off or flicker.

According to one of the owners’ reports, the Prius failed to display speedometer readings, fuel gauge meter, headlight indicators, warning indicators, and other status updates found on the gauge cluster which made each trip dangerous and unpredictable. 

The 2008 Prius had a total of 258 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 1,825 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Headlights malfunctioning
  • Intermittent headlight failure
  • Excessive oil consumption

2007 Toyota Prius

The 2007 Toyota Prius had serious headlight issues, with some reports stating that the bulbs of the headlights and tail lights prematurely burned out.

This was deemed to be a clear safety issue as it would diminish the driver’s visibility, particularly during the night. 

The 2007 Prius had a total of 250 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 2,394 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Headlight randomly turns off while driving
  • Headlights burn out prematurely
  • Check engine light on 

2006 Toyota Prius

The 2006 Toyota Prius had the same problems as its successors and predecessors.

Headlights constantly went out either through burning out or ballast failure.

Owners stated that this was a safety issue and a legality issue as cars are not allowed to be driven with broken headlights. 

The 2006 Prius had a total of 127 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 1,652 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Headlights go off occasionally
  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Defective computers

Related: Toyota Prius Beeping? (11 Causes & Solutions)

2005 Toyota Prius

The 2005 Toyota Prius had headlight issues as well.

According to several reports, despite replacing the bulbs, the headlights would still fail to work consistently.

A few owners even stated that their lamps started to flicker in the middle of a drive which led to a very dangerous driving experience.

The 2005 Prius had a total of 70 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 1,271 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Headlights turn off on their own
  • Hybrid battery died
  • Headlights repeatedly burn out

2004 Toyota Prius

Much like a lot of the previous entries on this list, the 2004 Toyota Prius had a significant amount of problems revolving around electronics, specifically the headlights.

A report even indicated that the flickering of headlights occurred multiple times during a single trip, with one estimating the rate to be three times every 15 minutes. 

The 2004 Prius had a total of 22 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 732 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Randomly shuts off when driving
  • Headlights work intermittently
  • Engine shuts down while driving

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

There are several Toyota Prius model years, both old and new, that have received numerous complaints through the years. 

Take a look at the complaints and problems for each model year of the Prius below

Model YearComplaints
(CarComplaints.com)
Problems
(CarProblemZoo.com)
2022 Toyota Prius08
2021 Toyota Prius24
2020 Toyota Prius011
2019 Toyota Prius622
2018 Toyota Prius441
2017 Toyota Prius11128
2016 Toyota Prius47203
2015 Toyota Prius21157
2014 Toyota Prius16268
2013 Toyota Prius30426
2012 Toyota Prius59637
2011 Toyota Prius114515
2010 Toyota Prius3133,232
2009 Toyota Prius104596
2008 Toyota Prius2581,825
2007 Toyota Prius2502,394
2006 Toyota Prius1271,652
2005 Toyota Prius701,271
2004 Toyota Prius22732
2003 Toyota Prius5120
2002 Toyota Prius3200
2001 Toyota Prius9213
2000 Toyota Prius04

What Problems Do Toyota Prius Have?

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • HEadlights flickering
  • Windshield cracks easily
  • Paint peeling

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Toyota Prius?

The Toyota Prius is considered one of the most reliable compact cars in the market.

The Prius secured the 7th spot (ahead of the Toyota Corolla Hybrid and Toyota Prius Prime), with a great score of 7.8 out of 10. 

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid8.8$27,200 – $35,550City: 45 – 50 /Highway: 51 – 54
Honda Accord Hybrid8.7$27,320 – $37,190City: 44 – 48 /Highway: 41 – 48
Toyota Camry Hybrid8.7$27,480 – $32,920City: 44 – 51 /Highway: 47 – 53
Toyota Avalon Hybrid8.5$37,350 – $43,650City: NA /Highway: NA
Honda Insight8.4$25,760 – $29,790City: 51 – 55 /Highway: 45 – 49
Hyundai Elantra Hybrid8.3$24,400 – $29,000City: 49 – 53 /Highway: 52 – 56
Toyota Prius7.8$25,075 – $33,370City: 51 – 58 /Highway: 47 – 53
Toyota Corolla Hybrid7.7$23,750City: 53 /Highway: 52
Toyota Prius Prime7.7$28,220 – $34,000City: NA /Highway: NA
Hyundai IoniqNA$23,600 – $33,250City: NA /Highway: NA

Source: cars.usnews.com

Related: 9 Best & Worst Chevrolet Volt Years (With Facts & Stats)

References

https://www.caranddriver.com/toyota/prius

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/toyota/prius

https://www.carcomplaints.com/Toyota/Prius/

https://www.carproblemzoo.com/toyota/prius/

https://www.edmunds.com/toyota/prius/

https://www.kbb.com/toyota/prius/

https://www.jdpower.com/cars/2021/toyota/prius