Weekly Auto features page in Adobe InDesign and PDF formats.
This page has a half-page space across the bottom for advertising.

Entry price: $23,475

Price as tested: $33,127

This week, we’re driving the 2018 Toyota Prius, the midsize hatchback sedan available in Two, Three and Four nomenclature models and seven trims, ala Two, Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, Four and Four Touring. There is also a smaller Prius to choose from called the Prius c, which rides on a 100.4-inch wheelbase, uses a smaller 1.5 liter four cylinder and delivers 54 city and 46 highway. The “c” starts at just $19,560 and is classified as a compact.

The largest Prius is a Prius V station wagon, where right now the 2017 model is selling at attractive dealer incentives. Although dropped from the 2018 lineup, the Prius V wagon rides on a 109.4-inch wheelbase and has room for five and lots of cargo space. It utilizes the same powertrain that motivates our mid-size tester and is still available in the U.S. for those looking for a leftover. The reason for dropping the Prius V for 2018 is no doubt a result of the popularity of the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid.

Regardless of a leftover 2017 or a brand new 2018, when you add all these models together, today’s Toyota Prius comes in 16 different flavors from the entry $19,560 Prius c to top line Prius Four Touring, which starts at $30,565. As for EPA expectations, the midsize Prius models from One to Four all deliver 54 city and 50 highway MPG ratings.

Our 2018 midsize Prius came in top flight Four Touring trim, which means it’s pretty much fully loaded. Under the hood, the aforementioned 1.8-liter four-cylinder develops a net 134 horsepower, arrived at by combining the electric power output with the horsepower from the engine’s 13-1 compression ratio engine. The transmission is Toyota’s electronically controlled Synergy Drive automatic (CVT), which is also standard in all models and offers two modes, an EV and Eco selection. The EV operates in fully electric mode when the batteries are fully charged while Eco is economy mode utilizing internal combustion and electric in unison. Because the Prius models were not built for acceleration, don’t expect any impressive quarter-mile elapsed times.

Still, it’s the Prius trademark’s ability to generate outstanding fuel mileage, comfortable surroundings and then throw into the mix the ability to drive up to 25 miles on EV full electric power.  Inside, driver and passengers will be pleased at the roominess and amenities like Smart Flow climate control, 7-inch hi-res Navigation screen with Entune Stereo Sirius/XM, all the powers, keyless start, a special 4.2-inch color hybrid system indicator, four wheel anti-lock disc brakes, heated front seats, 17-inch Yokohama tires on alloy wheels, and much more. The exterior deserves special note as all Prius models were re-styled in 2016 and feature a more aerodynamic design.

As for safety, the 2018 Prius ups the ante quite a bit, especially when comparing other hybrids. Every Prius now comes standard with not only its noted Star Safety System, known for traction and stability controls and all the airbags working in tandem, but added into the quotient for 2018 is the addition of the Toyota Safety Sense package as standard fare.  

Likes: Looks, fuel mileage, Toyota reliability, Prius legend.

Dislikes: Rear visibility, but back-up safety camera trumps that concern. Not much else.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now.

Photo caption: 2018 Toyota Prius. [Toyota]


Auto Bits

Drivers’ re-education
on flat-tire fixing

Be spared: Knowing how to change a flat is all for naught if a spare tire is not along for the ride. Spares are usually hidden under the carpet in the trunk area, but they aren’t always included in newer vehicles (allowing manufacturers to make lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles). When purchasing a new vehicle, ask the dealer about the inclusion of a spare.

Flatlining signs: It’s fairly easy to spot a flat tire — it’s usually accompanied by a loud noise or rubber flapping. The vehicle will feel like it is being pulled toward the side of the flat tire, and it will feel as if the vehicle can no longer accelerate. When in doubt, activate hazard lights and move the vehicle safely out of traffic, ideally on a flat area with enough space on the side of the road. Once in a safe spot, remember to practice high visibility.

Hit the road, Jack: Having the right tools on board is critical, of course, and that’s where a jack comes in. Remember, the jack is only used to get the vehicle off the ground, not to hold the vehicle in place — that’s where the jack stands come in to ensure a safe and sustained lift. Refer to the owner’s manual for the proper placement.

 — Brandpoint