Why is the Toyota Prius hated? Explained

The Prius (pronounced pree-us) is a hybrid car manufactured by Toyota.

That means that it’s powered by both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, so it’s more fuel-efficient than other cars on the road. 

It’s also one of the most popular hybrid cars out there. But that doesn’t mean it’s well-liked.

Since its introduction, the Prius has been universally hated by car enthusiasts and regular drivers alike. It is perhaps the most controversial car to have ever existed. Lots of people seem to think that it’s ugly, or slow, or even that it’s ‘not really a car’.

Join us as we take a deep dive into the reasons why the Toyota Prius is so hated. Also, we’ll cover the reasons why you should consider showing it some much-deserved love.

1: The Prius is ugly

Let’s face it – the Toyota Prius is far from the best-looking car on the road today. 

This is especially true for the first and second generations of the Prius. These cars are best described as dull, metallic wedges of cheese.

Whilst later generations have been re-designed to look more bold, sporty and aggressive, some drivers just can’t shake the awkward shape and bumbling style of the Prius.

Sure, the Prius is not as pretty as some other cars. But it’s also not trying to be. The Prius design is all about aerodynamics.

According to Car and Driver’s latest report, the fourth generation Prius has a drag coefficient (Cd) of .24 – making it one of the most aerodynamic cars on the road today.

It doesn’t matter how good-looking your car is if it never runs out of gas!

So, is the Prius really ugly? It’s all down to your own personal preference. In our opinion, there are worse-looking cars out there. Have you heard of the Fiat Multipla?

2: The Prius is slow

A common complaint from Prius haters is that the car is slow. But is this the fault of the car, or the driver?

A second-generation Prius churns out a 0-60mph time of 10.2 seconds with a disappointing 76 horsepower. Newer Prius models hover around the nine or ten-second mark for their 0-60mph times.

It’s obvious that the Toyota Prius will never be a fast car (but it’s still nowhere near the slowest). That’s not to say that it’s all the car’s fault, though.

Prius drivers are infamous for feathering the throttle and taking their sweet time on the road to preserve fuel efficiency. They’re simply not concerned with passing other cars on the highway: they’re more concerned with getting good gas mileage.

As a result, you’re almost guaranteed to find yourself stuck in one of these situations:

  • You’re stuck behind a Prius travelling 10-15mph below the speed limit on an empty road
  • A Prius is hogging the fast lane on a highway or carriageway, not allowing you to pass
  • You’re late and a Prius is preventing you from reaching your destination quickly
  • A Prius is merging onto a highway too slowly, making it dangerous for you to merge

So next time you pass a Prius on the road, remember that it’s not entirely Toyota’s fault. There is a fuel-conserving, money-saving driver behind the wheel who doesn’t really care about outrunning other cars.

3: Prius drivers are smug

Pop culture has dealt its fair share of digs at the Toyota Prius and the people who like to own them.

Perhaps most popular is the infamous ‘Smug Alert!’ episode of South Park, where hybrid drivers are shown as being smug and pretentious.

Do Prius drivers think they’re better than you? Well, probably.

Many of us can recall Prius owners needlessly preaching about the benefits of hybrid cars and engaging in light-hearted snobbery against other drivers.

Most annoying is that distinct aura of superiority about a Prius driving past a busy gas station with its limitless range. To be fair to them, there is a lot to be proud of when it comes to owning an eco-friendly car.

Owning a hybrid (or fully electric) car is an environmentally conscious decision, which means the owner is allowed to feel pretty good about themselves.

Not all drivers are interested in looks and speed: some just want a cleaner way to get from A to B. But are the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars really as eco-friendly as we think they are?

4: The Prius isn’t as green as we thought

Great gas mileage is only part of what makes a car eco-friendly.

Other factors to take into account include the vehicle’s weight, power and the overall manufacturing process.

And this is where it gets interesting for the Prius. The car’s claim to fame is based on its low emissions and great gas mileage.

However, this doesn’t recognise the total environmental impact of the car, from being produced to being scrapped or recycled. We usually only focus on its emissions.

The Prius is a highly complex, engineered vehicle that utilises an electric motor and hybrid batteries to do its job.

Manufacturing the batteries and the mining of raw materials for use in the Prius has been reported as being more environmentally damaging than the manufacturing process of its non-hybrid counterparts.

Toyota claims that the Prius more than makes up for this damage over the lifetime of owning one.

With such a low emission output and that infamous Toyota reliability, we should see more environmental returns the longer they stay on our roads. 

Why does the Prius have such a bad reputation?

You might be thinking – ‘there are so many other hybrids out there. Why is it the Prius that gets all of the backlash’? Good question!

The truth is that the Prius has been an easy target for decades. It was the first popularised hybrid vehicle which took the US and many other countries by storm.

Unfortunately, it went against many things that car enthusiasts held dear; speed, good looks, great handling and raw excitement.

Car enthusiasts liked cars that were rebellious and tenacious. The Prius was more akin to the kid who used to remind your teacher about the homework.

Should the Prius get a second chance?

For years, the Toyota Prius was considered the crowning jewel of hybrid cars. When it launched in 1997, the vehicle was ahead of its time.

The Prius was marketed as green, affordable, and popular among celebrities, and it attracted eco-conscious consumers who were looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

But something happened. Now the Prius has a reputation for being ugly, boring, and so slow that it’s almost dangerous.

With a fifth-generation planned for release in 2022, could it be time to give the Prius another chance? Perhaps.

Despite its flaws, it’s still a car that makes perfect sense for commuters and city drivers who want to reduce their emissions and improve their gas mileage. 

With every new generation, there’s a chance that the Toyota Prius can improve in the eyes of enthusiasts. It could be quicker. It might look better.

They might even release a sporty GR version with a 4-litre V6 and an optional body kit (okay, maybe not).

Final thoughts

The Toyota Prius is the car that we love to hate.

From its inception in 1997 to its fifth-generation planned for 2022, there has never been a car that has attracted so much negative attention.

There’s no real explanation for it. Sure, it’s ugly. Sure, it’s slow. But there are uglier and slower cars out there, right?

Either way, it might be time to give the Prius another chance. Or not. It’s completely up to you.

How do you feel about the Toyota Prius? Let us know!

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