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Tom Crosby: 2018 Toyota Prius Three Touring is economical

Tom Crosby

Toyota’s Prius hybrid is America’s best selling hybrid and has several trims. We test drove the 2018 Prius Three Touring and the math shows why it tops the sales stats.

At $2.60 a gallon, a fill-up is just under $30 and you will be able to travel 587 miles before another stop at a gas station, based on EPA’s rating of 52 miles average per gallon.

Prius faces growing competition in economic comparisons from electric only and plug-ins, but Prius also offers such alternatives in its pricier Prius Prime line-up.

Basically unchanged since overhauled in its fourth generation in 2016, it is a nicely configured four-door five-seater hatchback with a suite of Toyota’s $1,000 safety options discounted in 2018, leaving our only major option $1,500 for 17-inch alloy gunmetal colored wheels, two-tone front and rear fascia and piano black side rocker panels. Also added was $790 for the hypersonic red/black paint job with protection film. The MSRP lists the delivery as “courteous” but there is an $895 processing and handling fee.

Prius is easily identified from the rear with the spoiler cross bar below the sharply raked rear window and above the flat window, which can hinder a driver’s rear visibility.

However, the Prius Three Touring has standard blind spot protection, high-speed dynamic cruise control, lane-keeping assist, parking assist and rear crossing alert when backing up.

Handling was competent with front-wheel drive aided by a mild straight-ahead bias. The ride was slightly stiff but not uncomfortable with independent front and rear wishbone suspension. Excellent mileage comes with its reduced horsepower and drive modes are Eco or normal.

The Prius has a monochromatic futuristic look with small chrome badging on the sides and rear. The protruding nose tilts downward with deep indentions beneath the headlight and no grille to go with the bumper level air dam.

Inside, the cabin has a clean, roomy look with textured materials and excellent fit and finish. Ceramic-white plastic on the steering wheel and below the dash looks stylish. A 7-inch touchscreen controls various functions, like Toyota’s Entune infotainment multi-media system. There is info on hybrid operations and driver habits but some popular music apps are unavailable.

Rear seats fold down 60/40 for cargo space above a spare tire. Visors do not extend.

Resale value is high and Prius has top safety scores in crash tests.

LIKES: Mileage, looks, safety features, price competitive.

DISLIKES: Paint charges, non-extendable visors, not quick.

BOTTOM LINE: Solid family car, safe, reliable, high resale value.

FACT FILE

2018 TOYOTA PRIUS THREE TOURING

Base price w/processing fee: $29,010 ($31,340 as tested).

Curb weight: 3,080 lbs.

Wheelbase: 106.3 inches.

Length: 178.7 inches.

Width: 69.3 inches.

Engine specs: 1.8-liter hybrid, 4-cylinder, DOHC (gas).

Horsepower: 95 hp at 5,200 rpm (gas) 71 hp (electric), 121 hp (combined).

Torque: 105 lb.-ft. at 3,600 rpm.

Transmission: Continuously variable with over/drive.

EPA rating: 54 mpg city/50 mpg hwy.

Range: 11.3 gallons, regular fuel.

Performance: 0-60 in just under10.

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.