2003 Toyota Prius

  • 2003 Toyota Prius Base Hatchback

    Base Hatchback

    • MAX MPG
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      1.5L I4
    • MSRP
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2003 Toyota Prius Review

This hybrid may surprise some drivers because of how well it performs.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2003 Toyota Prius is a full electric/gasoline hybrid in production from 1997 to the present. Models through 2003 were considered compact and subsequent models have been midsize cars. All models are four-door sedan body styles and are built on a front-engine, front-drive layout with the electric motor located in the back. The main draw is fuel economy, but the Prius also remains competitively priced within its class.

The Range

Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 70-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas hybrid
Transmissions: two-speed CVT
Models: Toyota Prius

What's New

The 2003 Toyota Prius introduces a new body color, Blue Moon Pearl, which replaces black.


The 2003 Toyota Prius has a stubby, rounded profile similar to many compact cars. It features rounded edges with few features to set it apart except the large headlights dominating the front. It has four doors and is 169.6 inches long and 57.6 inches tall. The bumpers are body color and a rear wing spoiler is available. It comes with 14-inch alloy wheels standard. Other features include lightly tinted windows and a rear defroster.


The 2003 Toyota Prius seats five people with two front four-way adjustable bucket seats and a rear 60/40-split bench seat that can be folded down. Though it seats five, the backseats become crowded with three adults, otherwise it's relatively roomy for a compact vehicle. It has 11.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Some interior features include air-conditioning, power doors, windows, and mirrors, and tilt steering.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Toyota Prius has a 70-hp, 1.5-liter, four-cylinder, gas hybrid engine. In most instances, the electric engine powers the Prius up to 12 mph then the 1.5-liter four-cylinder takes over most of the work. When passing or pushing it at higher speeds, the electric engine kicks in again, offering additional power. The gasoline engine shuts off automatically when coasting, braking, or when stopped, and at this time, it acts as a generator to recharge the battery pack, thus it never needs to be charged overnight like many all electric vehicles do. It uses a continuously variable transmission that operates smoothly in most conditions. Acceleration is somewhat lacking but not as bad as some may assume. Since the electric engine jumps in while passing and in other situations where more power is needed, it gives it two energy sources instead of only one. Handling is comparable to most compacts. The greatest benefit is obviously the gas mileage, and a digital display is constantly updating the driver on fuel consumption.


The 2003 Toyota Prius' standard safety features include the required front-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes, and front seatbelt pretensioners. Side-impact airbags are optional.

EPA Fuel Economy

Toyota Prius: 52/45 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Fuel economy
  • Price
  • Convenient city driving
  • Drivable dimensions
  • Performance for a hybrid

You Won't Like

  • Acceleration
  • Speed
  • Available features

Sum Up

This hybrid may surprise some drivers because of how well it performs.

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See the New 2016 Prius.

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