Toyota Prius (2010) long-term test review

Published: 23 July 2010

Long-term test update – 23 July 2010

Breaking news: just filled the Prius after my best-possible-behaviour tankful of obeying all speed limits and using minimal throttle openings during a mix of mainly motorway and rural A-road driving, with a smattering of urban pottering. Result? 56.34mpg. Somewhat better than my normal low 40s mpg, still someway off the claimed 70mpg.
I also got 444 miles out of the tank, with the trip computer saying I had 36 miles remaining. I usually fill up after 350 miles. 

Read our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale in the UK

The start of our fuel-supping experiment –  19 July 2010                    

I’m right in the middle of an economy test at the moment, so I’m forcing myself to adhere to all speed limits and use gentle throttle openings wherever possible. I’m finding it strange to see things approaching in my rear-view mirror as often as they are, and it’s also incredibly easy to get tangled up in other people’s driving and find yourself sitting at 50mph behind a caravan, but I’m sticking with it.

I was expecting the frustrations, but I wasn’t expecting to find it quite so relaxing. And I’m not sure my commute up and down the A1 is taking any longer either – I think I’m just easing out the spikes that usually see me charging to 85mph, then sitting in traffic at 60mph. But I think that driving any slower than I am doing would be unrealistic, so it’ll be interesting to see how much I can improve on my current 41mpg average by driving on my absolute best behaviour. I’m thinking high-50s mpg, but I’ll know for sure very soon indeed. 


  Previous reports

17 June 2010 Why I chose the Prius  
3 June 2010 Toyota Prius: 70.6 mpg?  
17 May 2010 Boy racer at heart  




Total mileage



Since last report



Overall mpg



Fuel costs



Other costs




At one point we almost breached 50mpg



i wasn’t driving



Why I chose the Prius – 17 June 2010


Yes, I know, very funny, Ben Barry – lover of oversteer, keeper of M3 – gets a Prius, must be some kind of punishment from the editor, etc etc, guffaw, guffaw. That, in fact, is not so. I’ve chosen the Prius because I was impressed by its abilities on the press launch, and wondered if its comfort, practicality, economy and perfectly fine ability to go from A-to-B wouldn’t actually be all that I needed for the commute and family duties.

There’s also a bigger agenda at issue here. Firstly, I reckon that as petrolheads get increasingly squeezed at the pumps, by the DVLA and by – much as I hate to spout the usual you-can’t-actually-drive-fast-anywhere-these-days and ooh-aren’t-there-a-lot-of-speed-cameras nonsense – rising traffic levels, they’ll increasingly turn to very sensible daily drives, while keeping something tasty (possibly untaxed and uninsured) in the garage and trailered to the track. So, think of me as a kind of keen-driving guinea pig, a test case who’ll report back to those of you who love driving but wonder if a hybrid on the drive and a hot car in the garage might be the future.

Secondly, we already know that hybrids work pretty well in cities where the low speeds and frequent stop/starts give their batteries a chance to do the work of a petrol engine. But I’m based in a rural area, so this Prius will spend its time roaming freely about the countryside and doing two-hour schleps to the airports of London. Toyota claims its hybrid tech has come on in leaps and bounds with this third-gen car – the battery has more say in proceedings at higher speeds, the larger engine means it’s less stressed on the motorway. So how will it get on? Will it get anywhere near the claimed 70.6mpg?

What is a hybrid car? Our guide to hybrids, PHEVs and plug-ins

My car is the top-spec T-Spirit, yours for £22,610, to which we’ve added absolutely no optional extras. But it’s a good standard spec, the T-Spirit. It builds on the T4 spec’s Bluetooth, keyless entry, 17in alloys, auto wipers and cruise control with user-friendly sat-nav and a rear-view camera.

I like the way it looks, how light and airy and soothing it is inside and I even think it’s pretty decent to drive – it handles tidily, has a decent turn of speed and rides well enough too. Right, time to see how we do…

Ben Barry

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3 June 2010 – Toyota Prius 70.6 mpg?

Ah, you know that 70.6mpg I told you about, the one I mentioned in the first update? Mmm. No, let me just quickly re-tally my fuel figures. Hold on. Can’t be right. Once more. No. It’s, erm, it’s 41mpg. That’s 30mpg off the official figures. To be fair, I’m not driving like I’m on the combined cycle, but I reckon I’m going with the flow at 80-90mph on dual carriageways and motorways, and the Prius’s stodgy throttle response and thrashy CVT discourages you from really thrashing it, so I don’t.

Another niggle: the range. Surely a key benefit of a frugal car is not having to fill it up all the time, but I’m usually back at the pumps not long after 300 miles, while 360 miles is the current record.

Ben Barry

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17 May 2010 – Boy racer at heart

Decided that a couple of different drivers should live with the Prius for two tanks of fuel, just to make sure that the poor mpg wasn’t purely down to me – and I must admit that I do get drawn into embarrassing boy racers whenever the opportunity arises. So, Phil McNamara and Tim Pollard stepped up to the plate. Result? 50mpg. Much better than me, but still a little disappointing.

Ben Barry



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