Toyota Prius (2003 – 2009) Review

Toyota Prius (2003 – 2009) At A Glance


+Much better than the original. An enjoyable, practical, safe, economical hybrid. Looks good, too. Prius Taxis have run to 400,000 miles plus with very little trouble.

-It isn't a fault, but don't expect to achieve astonishing mpg on a clear motorway run. Hybrid drive doesn't regenerate at constant speed. Catalytic converters vulnerable to theft.

On average it achieves 86% of the official MPG figure

Drive into the future. Tomorrow's car today. Car of the next decade now. We've all heard this kind of hype before. Except in the shape of the new Toyota Prius II it all happens to be true.

The Japanese have some pretty good diesels. Toyota's 1.4 D-4D is the best small diesel in the world. Yet despite the economic advantages, diesel's smutty reputation is against it. Which is why for the past ten years the Japanese have been developing and perfecting hybrids. Or, in other words, cars that combine petrol engines, electric motors and batteries to regenerate power and effectively use it twice.

The original Prius and the Honda Insight were proper production cars you could go out and buy, then claw back a Powershift grant for helping to save the World. More than 100,000 old shape Prius were built and sold. Now we're into the second generation of both. Honda has chosen to add hybrid technology to a standard Civic saloon. Toyota has created a totally "all new" car.

Real MPG average for a Toyota Prius (2003 – 2009)


Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

41–67 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

I have £4000 to buy a used Toyota Prius. Do you have any advice on what to look out for?
"I’m looking for a used Toyota Prius as I think that’s the most affordable, reliable and economical used automatic family car for my budget. I’m also a huge fan of Toyotas based on my previous two Mk1 Yaris, which I had to sadly part with. It'll mostly be used for city driving in London with some long trips. What are the pitfalls I should look out for on inspection and test drive? With a budget of £3000-£4000, what would be the best year/model to purchase? Thanks in advance!"
The Toyota Prius is a very reliable car. Your biggest challenge, particularly at this budget, will be finding one that hasn't had a hard life as a taxi. If you can find one that hasn't covered an excessive amount of miles and comes with evidence of regular maintenance, it could be a good purchase. Receipts for servicing at a Toyota dealership will be a bonus – they carry out a hybrid health check which should give you an insight into the status of the batteries.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What is the most reliable family automatic hatchback for under £4500?
"What is the most reliable family automatic hatchback for under £4500? I was set on Civic 1.8 2009 but then learned that this model has the i-Shift which is best avoided. "
We'd still me tempted by the Civic. It's true that the i-Shift gearbox attracted some criticism when it was new as it wasn't the nicest gearbox to use, but learn to drive around its flaws (e.g. lift off when changing up a gear) and it's not too painful. It's also more reliable than the likes of Ford's Powershift gearbox. Alternatively, would you consider a Toyota Prius? It will be very economical and should prove to be reliable.
Answered by Andrew Brady
We had the catalytic converter stolen from our car - and have lost our no claims as a result?
"I recently found a note in the windscreen of my Toyota Prius, parked in a shop car park, saying the car had been jacked up and something removed from under the car (an employee of the shop just happened to notice it). We found out it was the catalytic converter. The repair bill was £2000 and the car was written off. The same hour another Prius was stripped of it about a mile away. Now my 20 years with no claims is ruined?"
You should not have lost all of your no claims, only a proportion. It is common for them to be stolen, especially if you live in London. UK scrap merchants will not accept them, so it seems they are being shipped abroad. It appears to be because of their high platinum content.
Answered by Tim Kelly
Will a hybrid car still give good mpg on long journeys and country roads?
"I currently drive a 2011 Fiat Bravo Multijet diesel - I bought it for the MPG and it hasn't disappointed in that regard, although it's irritatingly unreliable and handling isn't great. Despite living in the city centre I regularly commute 200+ miles on both motorways and country roads. The Fiat is living up to it's 'Fix It Again Tomorrow' joke - and I'm worried about taxes coming in on diesels as I regularly work in cities. I need a car that can handle both motorway driving and tricky country roads. I've been looking at hybrids hoping I could get a similar MPG to the diesel, but all the reviews say they're not great on motorways and country roads. Should I give up and go for a petrol engine or take the risk with a diesel? I'm looking for something under £20,000. "
In 2004 I had a Toyota Prius II and its overall average over 3776 miles was 48.83mpg, which wasn't so great. Then in In 2011 had to deliver an Auris hybrid 300 miles, mostly motorway, and it did 63mpg, so they got better. Phenomenal reliability. Low maintenance costs. I'd go for the lighter Toyota Auris rather than the Prius.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Toyota Prius (2003 – 2009) cost?