2013 Toyota Prius Review and Prices

Last Updated: May 18, 2012

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2013 Toyota Prius Buying Advice

The 2013 Toyota Prius is the best car for you if you want a hybrid classic with the latest in gas-electric tech.

The 2013 Toyota Prius will feature wider availability of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid variant introduced in limited form for model-year 2012. It’ll also carryover the styling tweaks and updated infotainment systems introduced on the 2012 Prius. With a foundation of iconic design, loyal customers, and legitimate fuel-savings, the 2013 Prius standard model and the 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid should maintain their status as the world’s best-selling gas-electric cars. But they’ll have more competition than ever, including an onslaught from Ford that includes the all-new 2013 Fusion sedan and 2013 C-Max hatchback, both of which will offer standard- and plug-in-hybrid versions.

Should you wait for the 2013 Toyota Prius or buy a 2012 Toyota Prius? Buy a 2012 Prius if you want the standard version. It won’t change significantly for model-year 2013, although it’s likely to cost more. Wait for the 2013 Prius if you’re interested in the Plug-in version and live outside the 14 coastal states in which this car was available in model-year 2012. The 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid should be available nationwide and waiting would help you compare it – as well as the standard 2013 Prius – to the latest model-year 2013 competition.

2013 Toyota Prius Changes back to top

Styling: The styling of the 2013 Toyota Prius isn’t likely to change after the model-year 2012 facelift. Those alterations – the first since this third-generation Prius bowed in model-year 2010 – centered on a smoother-looking new nose and include minor trim details unique to the Plug-in model. 

Unaltered and sure to continue for model-year 2013 is the aerodynamic four-door, five-passenger hatchback body common to both versions of this car The distinctive Prius shape has become the prototype for the modern hybrid while furnishing near midsize-car passenger space within compact-class exterior dimensions. As a bonus, the hatchback design will again provide a versatile 21.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat and 39.6 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded.

The 2013 Prius standard model and the 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid will remain at the center of a four-member family of Prius-badged Toyota Hybrids. The 2013 Prius v will continue as a standard Prius hatchback stretched to become a larger five-passenger station wagon. The least expensive member of the family, the 2013 Prius c, will return as a smaller, city-oriented four-door hatch. It’ll again graft a standard-type Prius hybrid drive system and Prius styling cues onto the chassis of the subcompact Toyota Yaris.    

Expect the lineup of the 2013 Prius standard model to reprise four grades. They’ll likely be labeled, in ascending order of equipment and price, Prius Two, Three, Four, and Five. (The Prius One should continue as a fleet-only offering.) These Prius standard models are unlikely to veer much from styling distinctions that go little beyond 17-inch wheels for the Five versus 15s for the Two, Three, and Four.

The lineup of the 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will likely repeat with a base model that’s roughly equivalent to the Prius Three, and the Advanced model, which should return as the highest-priced Prius hatchback. Both Plug-ins should again sport chrome exterior trim and unique-looking 15-inch wheels to differentiate them visually from standard Prius models. 

Mechanical: The 2013 Toyota Prius – as a standard model or a Plug-in -- will continue a combination of gasoline and electric power. Toyota calls it Hybrid Synergy Drive and the system automatically taps either power source individually or in combination to balance acceleration and fuel conservation. The gas engine will again be a 1.8-liter four-cylinder and it’ll team with two small electric motors. Expect output to remain a net 134 horsepower.

The key difference between the 2013 Prius standard model and the 2013 Plug-in Hybrid will again be the way in which each exploits electric power. When relying on electricity alone, the Prius standard model is limited to the battery charge obtained from regenerative braking. That’s good for only about 1 mile and a maximum 46 mph on electric-only running. After that, the standard Prius reverts to combined gas-electric propulsion.

By contrast, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid comes with a plug-in cord that enables it to utilize an initial charge drawn from a residential or commercial connection. Its battery pack, a lithium-ion type rather than the standard Prius’s less-advanced nickel-metal-hydride type, can store enough plug-in charge to propel the car about 11 miles and up to 60 mph on electricity alone. After that, just like the standard Prius, the Plug-in model reverts to combined gas-electric hybrid drive and recharges via regenerative braking. To charge the Plug-in Hybrid to its maximum electric-only range takes about 3 hours using a 120-volt household source and 1.5 hours with a heavier-duty 240-volt outlet.

Both 2013 Prius types also will again save gas by automatically shutting off the engine while the car is stopped. Using their maximum combination of electric-only running and gas-electric hybrid propulsion, both Prius types have a maximum range of about 540 miles.

Features: Toyota is more likely to shuffle combinations of existing features than introduce significant new ones for the 2013 Prius. That’s partly because there isn’t a whole lot to add to an equipment list already brimming with creative technology, including solar-charged climate control, self-parking, and lane-wander compensation.

Among notable features likely to return is the Solar Roof Package that embeds solar panels in a power sliding glass moonroof. The cells power a circulation fan while the car is parked, thereby reducing gas-chugging cool-down loads on the air conditioner.

The Advance Technology Package is comprised of four features: Dynamic Cruise Control to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead; Intelligent Park Assist to automatically back Prius into a parallel parking space; Lane Keep Assist to steer it back into the intended highway lane; and Pre-Collision to cinch seatbelts and pre-apply the brakes when a crash is imminent.

The 2013 Prius will again offer a fairly comprehensive infotainment suite, highlighted by Toyota’s Entune system. This is likely to be included as standard on every 2013 Prius except the Two model and will again tap an onboard smartphone to deliver a variety of Internet entertainment and information apps, including the Bing search engine and text-message-to-speech capability.

Starting with the Prius Three level and included on both Plug-in models, Entune should again be combined with GPS navigation that responds to a dashboard touchscreen and voice commands. A USB iPod interface and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity should remain standard on every 2013 Prius.

2013 Toyota Prius Prices back to top

Prices for the 2013 Toyota Prius were not announced in time for this review but should not rise drastically from 2012 levels. That suggested a 2013 Prius base-price range of $25,300-$31,000 for the 2013 Toyota Prius standard model and $33,300-$40,800 for the 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee; Toyota’s destination fee for the 2012 Prius was $760. Toyotas sold in some Southeastern and Gulf states may carry different destination fees.)

In the standard Prius line, estimated base price is $25,300 for the 2013 Prius Two, $26,800 for the 2013 Prius Three, $29,500 for the Prius Four, and $31,000 for the Prius Five.

Expect a starting price of around $33,300 for the 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid base model and around $40,800 for the 2013 Prius Plug-in Advanced model. Prius Plug-in buyers may again qualify for a federal tax credit of approximately $2,500, as well as additional state tax credits.

Toyota recommends Prius Plug-in buyers install a home charging station. The automaker’s “approved provider” is the electrical-device maker Leviton, which will install a 120-240-volt unit starting around $1,000 – not including various permit fees or additional costs based on site conditions.  

2013 Toyota Prius Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Toyota Prius were not released in time for this review but they shouldn’t change from those of the 2012 Prius.

This suggests fuel-economy ratings for 2013 Prius standard model of 51/48/50 mpg city/highway/combined. That should be enough to maintain the 2013 Prius standard model as the highest-rated car sold in the U.S. that is not a plug-in hybrids or a pure-electric vehicle.

Using the EPA miles per gallon-equivalent (mpge) for electric propulsion, expect the 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid to again rate 95 mpge. Running in “standard” gas-electric-hybrid mode, the Plug-in should again rate 51/49/50 mpg city/highway/combined.

Note that for both Prius types, the city mileage rating is higher than the highway rating. This demonstrates that Prius’s hybrid system is most efficient in low-speed, city driving. There, both Prius types can run exclusively on electric power and can best utilize the engine stop-start feature.

2013 Toyota Prius Release Date back to top

Expect the 2013 Toyota Prius standard model in showrooms by fall 2012. The 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid will be available nationwide by the end of calendar 2013. The 2012-model Prius Plug-in Hybrid was introduced exclusively in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.

What's next for the 2013 Toyota Prius back to top

The model-year 2012 launch of the Plug-in Hybrid version, accompanied by the styling tweaks and upgraded infotainment systems, will likely serve Prius for the run of this third-generation design. Toyota will expand regional availability of the Plug-in model and could mix and match features, but introduction of dramatically new tech or gizmos is highly unlikely until the debut of the next fully redesigned Prius hatchback, probably for model-year 2015.

It’s a sure bet the fourth-generation Prius will retain styling that keeps it a rolling advertisement for alternative power. Expect similar dimensions inside and out but reduced vehicle weight and even more connectivity options. Toyota could conceivably move to an all-plug-in lineup, capitalizing on advances in battery technology and availability of public charging stations. A pure-electric fourth-generation Prius model is a distinct possibility, too.

2013 Toyota Prius Competition back to top

Ford C-Max: The 2013 C-Max launches an all-new line of Ford hybrid and plug-in hybrids. This five-passenger compact hatchback will come in two models, both teaming a four-cylinder gas engine with electric-motor power. The 2013 C-Max Hybrid model relies solely on its on-board charging system, like the standard Prius. The 2013 C-Max Energi can charge its batteries with help from a plug-in source, like the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. Both will have a lithium-ion battery pack, a continuously variable transmission, and front-wheel-drive. Net output, electric range, or mpge were unavailable in time for this review. Ford does say the C-Max is capable of around 500 miles, pooling all power sources. Styling reflects that of today’s Ford Focus so the C-Max won’t shout “hybrid” at quite the same visual volume as the Prius. But it will be an intriguing competitor. Estimated starting price is around $27,000 for the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and around $33,000 for the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi.

Toyota Camry Hybrid: Looking for a roomy hybrid from Toyota without advertising that you’ve gone green? Look no further than this gas-electric version of the comfy, conservative Camry sedan. The Camry Hybrid uses the same hybrid system as the standard Prius, but with a larger four-cylinder engine for far better performance. It should return for model-year 2012 with a net 200 horsepower and ratings of 43/39/41 mpg city/highway/combined. Estimated base price range for the 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid is $27,200-$28,700.

Chevrolet Volt: This sleek four-door, four-passenger hatchback pioneers the “extended-range” electric-vehicle field and rivals the Prius Plug-in Hybrid with a 94-mpge rating. Volt runs almost exclusively on electric power but carries an onboard gas engine to act as a generator. An initial plug-in charge from a 120- or 240-volt source takes the Volt about 47 miles, after which the lithium-ion battery can be partially replenished by regenerative braking. Volt’s ultimate range is 380 miles between fillips running the generator. Its gas mpg rating is 35/40/37 mpg. Volt doesn’t feel as refined as the Prius but it has a sportier demeanor. Estimated base price for the 2013 Volt is $40,000, not counting applicable federal or state tax breaks.

2013 Toyota Prius Next Steps