In A World Now Crowded With Hybrids And Electrics, The 2022 Prius Still Delivers A Buzz

In A World Now Crowded With Hybrids And Electrics, The 2022 Prius Still Delivers A Buzz

You shouldn’t feel bad for the Prius, who lost its crown as America’s favorite hybrid in 2019. It was Toyota’s own RAV4 Hybrid that delivered the knockout sales punch to the Prius for the title, with 92,525 RAV4 Hybrid SUVs sold to U.S. buyers in 2019, versus just 69,718 Toyota Prii.

That the old boy’s still at the party and selling in the high 60,000’s is admirable, but there’s also a simple reason, too – it’s a great car.

Still as stylish as a combover, but a great car.

I recently slip-slid away for a week in a test 2022 Prius, clobbered daily by snow followed by freezing rain, even emerging from the house on the third day to find thick ice covering the Prius from front grille to trunk. My plastic scraper was useless and I ended up using a pointy, sharp metal shovel to dig through the blasted icy mess and even that took 20 minutes. The defroster didn’t come near it, but it wasn’t the defroster’s fault – it’s the defroster, not the de-icer.

Once rolling, it was a smooth ride, though noisy. A true people’s car now rather than the snooty-tooty more-environmentally-correct-than-thou machine it once was, it also offers simple-to-use controls and uncomplicated connections to whatever device you may have.

Through the rain, snow and sleet of the majority of the 7-day loan, the brakes were on-point, the acceleration satisfactory and the handling easily as good as much bigger, more expensive rides. There’s not much overall power, but that was never the point of the Prius.

On the 7th day, most of the snow and ice was gone, and photos were taken.

Here’s what’s on deck for this year:

There are six standard trims for 2022 – L Eco, LE, LE AWD-e, XLE, XLE AWD-e and Limited – with a price tag that starts at a reasonable $24,525. There’s also a special Nightshade Edition worth a look that’s available in three different metallic colors: Silver, Super White, and Midnight Black. The Edition delivers blacked-out 17-inch wheels for front-drive models and 15-inch wheels with black lug nuts for all-wheel-drive jobs. A heated steering wheel and front seats come standard.

The base Prius brings a 1.8-liter Toyota Hybrid System making 121 total horsepower, paired with a Continuously Variable Transmission making a stated 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway in Prius L Eco trim levels. Prius LE AWD-e and Prius XLE AWD-e do better on snowy roads, press materials say, with the addition of Electronic On-Demand AWD.

You’re supposed to get something like 58 MPG in a Prius. I averaged a little under 50 MPG, but I tend to be heavy on the foot.

A standard 7-inch Toyota Entune™ 3.0 multimedia system that provides access to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa smartphone capabilities and can be upgraded to an 11.6-inch touchscreen display with built-in navigation.

The car’s outfitted with the latest safety features of course, such as Toyota Safety Sense which included Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection.

Conclusion:

That the 2022 Prius isn’t drastically different from past Prii isn’t a crime, but as Tevye said in “Fiddler On The Roof,” “It’s no great honor, either.” If the badge is going to compete with the hordes of new hybrids and electrics in the very near future, they’ll have to show some true innovation.

In the meantime, still a great ride.

Please check out my NY Times’ Guest Essay, “We Can’t Work It Out – How I Finally Broke Up With The Beatles.”