Road test: 2022 Toyota Prius leads with mpg numbers

The hybrid vehicle landscape is changing rapidly. The Prius lineup got a Prius AWD-e all-wheel-drive version and a much better Prius Prime plug-in hybrid in its current and outgoing form, but it’s still a pared-down family, with the Prius C and long-gone Prius V.

Plus, direct aero efficiency rivals like the Chevy Volt and Honda Clarity are dust in the wind. Even the Hyundai Ioniq that looked like the Prius’ worst nightmare when it arrived has fought its way and has already evolved, giving way to a new Ioniq EV sub-brand.

Meanwhile, hybrids are becoming the preferred way to get a gas-powered vehicle — the one that gets the best mileage and the lowest cost of ownership and, often, the one that drives the best too.

Not knowing exactly where the Prius was headed — and just ahead of the debut of the next-gen 2023 Toyota Prius — I scheduled some time with the outgoing Prius last month. My 2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade started at $29,445, with blacked-out wheels that accentuated the look, and came in with a base price of just $31,056.

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

That’s already a great price for frugal types. And keeping an eye on its greatest asset, its gas mileage, I sought to make sense of where this efficiency icon is today.

Revisiting a gas mileage champion

First, I just wanted to drive the Prius like I would a commuter car. That means almost 100 miles of mixed commuter conditions in its Normal mode, ranging from suburban stop-and-go to some back roads, plus 30 miles of faster highway driving, up to around 75 mph, even including bumps. quick walks. in power mode. The Prius reported an average of 55 mpg.

I then switched to Eco mode, but ran the air conditioning normally and took the Prius on my 53 mile round trip – a route that includes 700 feet of elevation change and a near even mix highways under 65 mph, suburban boulevards, and semi-rural country roads. I’ve taken a number of hybrids on this loop, and this time I saw the highest number I’ve ever seen: over 65 mpg, according to the trip meter, with outside temperatures still in the 60s and low 70s.

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Finally, keeping it in Eco, I covered two different trips that took me through the Portland metro area, intentionally staying on surface streets and away from fast highways. During those 69 miles I averaged 61 mpg.

Running the Prius in Eco mode no longer exaggerates the springy feel of the hybrid system; it’s now a mode most drivers will do well with in traffic, and it mostly smooths out throttle inputs.

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Strengths
This generation of Prius feels mature, refined and even a bit sporty, in a way that previous generations of Prius don’t. The ride quality is excellent. The steering is light and precise, and the car feels nimble in moderate-speed corners and stable at over 75 mph, which is typical for some American highway cruisers. Thanks to what must be excellent aerodynamic work, the mileage doesn’t seem to dip as soon as you exceed 105 or 110 km/h, as it does in many other hybrids. Loading versatility is also excellent, with the flat load floor giving no indication of packing issues.

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Weaknesses
My few gripes were with the car’s behavior below 20mph – a bit unexpected, given that I consider the Prius a city car. On twisty roads, the steering doesn’t center well or let you know where it is, so unwinding the steering wheel is more of an adventure than in most vehicles. There’s not a lot of torque off the line or out of low-speed corners. Power mode improved the feeling of lack of courage in turns, but it didn’t help the 121-hp Prius take off faster from a stop. Also, the cabin is very dynamic, and while the backseat space is decent once inside, the door cutout makes it difficult for taller guys like me to get in – or fit a seat child, as I tested.

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Perplexity
The current styling of the Prius stood out as distinctive when it was first launched for the 2016 model year, and the current mode of automotive design makes it look no less. Yes, its shape is somehow both aerodynamically efficient and full of character, but with its fighter jet rear fins, heavily creased sides and strongly expressive nose, it’s not a subtle expression or a nice car by most quick catches.

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

Toyota Prius Nightshade 2022

The GCR to go
Many may be a little disappointed that the just-revealed 2023 Prius doesn’t show off Toyota’s technological prowess further, or that it just isn’t all-electric. While it’s too early to analyze that here, our time with a very good but also clearly flawed outgoing model served as a reminder that Toyota has continued to push ahead with the non-plug-in Prius – in a way the locals do. ‘limited budget apartments will most certainly appreciate.

The price is right and the mileage is surprisingly good. But as for setting a template for the future of the car? He passed on this torch.

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