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For the past decade, the Toyota Prius has dominated the hybrid car segment. The big contributor to the Prius' evergreen popularity is its amazing fuel economy -- the Prius' EPA combined rating of 50 mpg. The Prius is also a pleasant car to drive in the daily grind. The 2014 Toyota Prius is a five-passenger, four-door hatchback.
The Prius Three has an enhanced keyless entry system, a rearview camera, a navigation system, voice controls, HD radio and Toyota's Entune system, which includes real-time information (traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores) and the ability to use apps like Pandora, iHeart Radio and Open Table via a connection with your smartphone.
The 2014 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a pair of electric motor/generators. Together they send a total output of 134 horsepower to the front wheels through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT).
In track testing, we clocked the Prius from zero to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds; that's about the same as the Insight, but slower than the C-Max Hybrid and the aforementioned hybrid midsize sedans. The EPA estimates the 2014 Prius will return a very impressive 50 mpg combined (51 mpg city/48 mpg highway). In real-world testing, we've found these estimates reasonably accurate.
Every 2014 Toyota Prius comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Acceleration in the 2014 Toyota Prius is far from sprightly, but it should be adequate for most buyers. Four driving modes -- Normal, Eco, Power and EV -- allow the driver to choose the optimum powertrain configuration depending on conditions. Eco is measured and sluggish, but returns the best fuel economy. Power is useful for entering freeways or driving on hills. EV mode locks out the gasoline engine, but only allows a maximum speed of 25 mph and requires at least a half-charged battery pack.
The 2014 Toyota Prius features straightforward controls that jut out toward the driver in a "floating console" that provides a storage tray underneath. It's stylish and also helps maximize cabin space. The digital instrument panel features a floating layer that displays audio, temperature and trip computer information when the driver touches those controls on the steering wheel, minimizing eye movement. The standard touchscreen operates many of the Prius' high-tech features and is, for the most part, smartly designed. The Entune system in the Prius Three and above can be a hassle, though, since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account; plus, you always need an active data connection to use Entune. The hatchback body style provides considerably more cargo capacity than a typical midsize sedan, and the backseat offers plenty of space for passengers.