The Toyota Prius pioneered hybrid technology, starting the green revolution that has now overtaken internal combustion engines.
Besides its class-beating fuel efficiency, the Prius also packed tech features and a comfortable cabin.
Although considered as one of the most reliable Toyota products, over 1,000 complaints are registered about this popular hatchback.
This article will reveal the best and worst years so that you can make informed decisions when buying a used Prius.
Here’s The Short Answer to What the Best and Worst Years for Toyota Prius Are:
The best years of Toyota Prius are 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and years 2013- 2020, while the worst years are 2010, 2011, and 2012. Be on the lookout for these years, especially the problematic ones, before you purchase your Toyota Prius.
What Toyota Prius Years Are the Most Reliable?
Toyota Prius is mostly considered reliable and has pulled positive ratings over the years. However, some of these years have proven to be more reliable than others. Here is a list of these models:
2000 Toyota Prius
The hybrid engine system, the spacious seats and its amazing fuel economy top the list for the 2000 Toyota Prius model. Although not considered aesthetically pleasing to the eye, this model is one of the most reliable in the entire Toyota Prius series.
There were only four complaints recorded for the 2000 Toyota Prius Model on CarComplaints.
2001 Toyota Prius
Basking in the glory of the previous model is the 2001 Toyota Model. This model affirms that a lot of work went into the first generation of the Toyota Prius series with an emphasis on fuel and electric engines, ease of use and maintenance, and space for cargo.
Out of all the units produced for the 2001 Toyota Prius model, only 9 complaints were made about the high oil consumption rate
2002 Toyota Prius
This is another attestation to the level of attention that went into the first generation of the Toyota Prius cars. The 2002 model got an upgrade in the interior with particular attention to the dashboard design.
There were only 3 recorded complaints about this model and they were about the malfunctioning of the headlights.
2003 Toyota Prius
The last in the 1st generation of awesomeness and durability, the 2003 Toyota Prius continues in the glory of its successors. Firm steering wheel, foldable seats to give more room in the trunk and super saving fuel economy, were some of the high points of this model year.
2003 Toyota Prius had 4 recorded complaints. This first-generation ranks 35th out of 81 in terms of reliability and this is the highest out of the other generations.
2004 Toyota Prius
The 2004 Toyota Prius singles itself out of the many blunders made in the 2nd generation. This model debuted into the hatchback edition and midsize class. Many experts consider it as one of the cleanest cars on the road and the EPA rated it at 60/51 mpg for being the most efficient five-passenger car in America.
2013-2021 Toyota Prius
The next set of Toyota Prius generations that are considered reliable is those manufactured from 2013 up to 2021, as they pulled 118 complaints.
Years 2013, 2014, 2015 had no complaints about brakes or engines.
Years 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 recorded very few complaints about rodents eating the coated electrical wires or any of the external fixtures breaking.
What to Look out for in Terms of Reliability
Here are factors to consider when gauging the reliability of these cars:
- The Battery:
The battery of the years mentioned above is very reliable and they hardly experience any issues. When these issues occur, it takes very little to get them back and running.
- Second-hand Value:
The Toyota Prius models of the years listed above have been recorded to have a high second-hand value with owners having no complaints in the first few years.
- Fuel Efficiency:
Toyota Prius cars manufactured in its first generation do not consume fuel at all.
What Toyota Prius Years Should you Avoid?
If you want to enjoy the best value for your money, here are the years of Toyota Prius models that you should avoid:
The 3rd generation of Toyota Prius, which are those manufactured in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, are to be avoided at all costs because of the myriad of problems recorded by the users.
You should also avoid the ones manufactured between 2005-2009.
3rd Generation (2005-2009) Toyota Prius
These years became a far cry from the quality of the ones produced before them.
According to Toyota Probelms, the 3rd generation ranks 69th out of 81 in terms of reliability, while those in the 2nd generation ranked 66th out of 81.
The users of the 3rd gen Prius experienced a lot of problems that affected their driving experience and sometimes put their lives in danger.
Some problems recorded for these years of Toyota Prius include engine problems that aren’t easily fixable, light problems that kept recurring, excessive fuel consumption, and issues with the brake.
The years mentioned above have several complaints made about rodents eating the soy-coated electrical wiring and the headlights breaking out without cause.
The year 2010 Toyota Prius tops the table with 275 complaints across the different issues mentioned earlier.
The year 2008 Toyota Prius trails behind with 254 complaints while the 2007 model year pulls 244 complaints. These three years are considered the worst out of the others considered unreliable.
Toyota Prius 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011 models also recorded complaints about excessive fuel consumption, brake issues, and headlights cutting off.
The Years With Lesser Complaints
The year 2012 and 2016 Toyota Prius recorded lesser complaints than the rest of the years.
Part of the issues recorded was cracking of the windshield with no accident or the refusal of the cars to start even though they had no electrical issues.
The issues with these models (2012 and 2016) were reported even under low mileage as against those recorded for the other years that had issues at high mileage.
What to Look out for in Terms of Unreliability
Here are problems to look out for when buying them problem-ridden Prius model years:
- Musty Air Conditioners:
There were numerous complaints about the air conditioning systems of these unreliable years having a weird smell, which might have been caused by the drain pipes getting blocked off in the evaporator.
- Brake Issues:
At about 100,000 miles, users complained that Toyota Prius brakes stopped working with no known cause.
- Electrical Wiring Issues:
Toyota Prius models are eco-friendly and this is seen in their replacement of plastic and glass wiring with soy-coated wiring, but this is not without its issues. The soy-based coating attracts rodents that feast on the wiring, causing issues that are not covered under Toyota’s warranty.
- Piston Rings and Excessive Oil Consumption:
The years that have been tagged unreliable had a high number of complaints about the oil consumption being high, and this was linked to a fault with the piston rings.
What Are Some Typical Problems With Toyota Prius cars?
Toyota Prius models are considered a good choice in terms of power management. Its hybrid powertrain and large interrior space makes the car ideal for those looking for a frugal daily driver.
Here are some of the typical problems you can expect from the Toyota Prius:
1. Cracking Windshield
One of the most common problems of Toyota Prius is that the windshields are prone to cracking without having a known cause.
These cracks affect the windshield and need total replacement when it occurs, with the average cost pegged around $800.
Some owners of Toyota Prius models with complaints about the cracked windshield say that it occurs at about 18,000+ miles.
2. Excessive Oil Consumption
Topping the list for excessive oil consumption is the Toyota Prius 2010 and 2011, with the owners saying that it is a pretty bad issue.
In the beginning, the oil consumption is linked to the piston rings and the cover gasket, which are easily changed to stop the problem.
This escalated over the years with the owners having to change the entire engine, and this costs an average of $3,000 to $4,000.
3. Headlight Issues
The 2007 Toyota Prius records the most complaints about headlight issues, with the owners complaining that these lights go off with no warning.
To solve this headlight issue, owners of Toyota Prius models have to change the bulbs or the entire lighting module.
In less severe cases, simply turning the headlight off and on resolved the issue.
4. Dashboard and Other Interior Issues
Toyota Prius 2007 owners had a lot of complaints about the dashboard giving them problems.
The dashboard caused things like the malfunctioning of the backup camera, faulty warning system and epileptic display of the infotainment system.
These owners further added that the problems were due to faulty batteries that had to be replaced.
To learn further about the common problems with Toyota Prius Models, their causes and possible solutions, you can read our in-depth article about the common Toyota Prius problems.