If the newly redesigned 2004 Toyota Prius could be summed up in one word, it would be ""more."" Although it was not the first hybrid on the market, it was the first to offer the economy of a hybrid with the convenience of a sedan. This second generation adds a larger interior, hatchback utility, new interior features, and a hybrid drivetrain that is cleaner and more powerful than before. There is only one model and one trim level, but there are plenty of optional features available.
Body Style: sedan
Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder
Transmission: two-speed continuously variable automatic
Model: Toyota Prius
The 2004 Toyota Prius has been completely redesigned. It is larger, more powerful, gets better gas mileage, and has more standard features. The new hybrid drivetrain is more powerful and produces fewer emissions by 30 percent. The new drivetrain earns the designation as an SULEV (super ultra low-emission vehicle) and an AT-PZEC (advance technology partial zero emissions vehicle). Drivers will note that the Prius gets better gas mileage around the city, rather than on the highway. This reverse is due to the hybrid engine that goes electric at low speeds.
The 2004 Toyota Prius is only available as a four-door hatchback, but the hatchback makes loading cargo easier than in the previous model. It comes equipped with 15-inch aluminum wheels and all-season tires, with a temporary spare mounted inside. There is a rear spoiler, body-colored front and rear bumpers, and a body-colored grille. The new model is more aerodynamically designed with a drag coefficient of 0.26. The wheelbase has been increased to 106 inches, up over five inches from the previous model, which has increased the length to 175 inches.
Increased interior space in the new model means the 2004 Toyota Prius is now a midsize sedan, not a compact, although it is smaller than other midsize sedans. It can seat five comfortably, and there is plenty of legroom even in the back seat. Updated materials and design include new metallic accents on the vents, center console, and the center of the dashboard. As with the previous model, the oddly-designed dashboard takes some getting used to. Total cargo capacity for this vehicle is 16.1 cubic feet. Standard interior features include power windows, locks, and mirrors; air-conditioning; a tilt steering wheel with embedded satellite audio and climate controls; a six-speaker CD stereo; cruise control; a trip computer; 12-volt power outlets; dual power remote heated mirrors; a day/night rearview mirror; and rear 60/40-split folding bench. Optional features are plentiful: a voice-operated, DVD-based navigation system, Bluetooth capability, keyless entry and ignition, xenon headlights, a JBL premium audio system with six-disc CD changer, an auto-dimming mirror, and a rear wiper.
Performance & Handling
The 2004 Toyota Prius' proprietary Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain consists of 1.5-liter engine with a single electric drive motor. The gas engine has 76 horsepower and 82 lb-ft of torque. The electric engine has 67 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Combined, the hybrid engine delivers a total of 110 horsepower. There is only one transmission: an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission, which can take some getting used to. As expected, this car is no speedster, but the power is fine for getting around town and is adequate for passing and merging. Toyota claims the car goes from zero to 60 mph in 10 seconds. There is minimal interior noise, although those in the backseat will notice it more. The rack-and-pinion steering and soft suspension create a comfortable ride. A solid bar across the back window impairs rear visibility. Overall, it delivers a comparable ride to other sedans in its class.
The 2004 Toyota Prius offers standard safety features that include four-wheel ABS with front disc/rear drum brakes, multistage driver and front passenger airbags, and traction control. Other standard features include child seat anchors, rear door child safety locks, an engine immobilizer, electronic brake force distribution, adjustable headrests in the front and back, front and rear seat belt pretensioners, and an emergency interior trunk release. Optional features include side curtain airbags and stability control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives a perfect rating of five-out-of-five star rating for driver-side protection and four stars for passenger protection. It also rates it at four stars for side impact in the front and rear, and for rollovers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not provide safety ratings.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Prius: 60/51 mpg city/highway
- Excellent gas mileage
- Ultra low emissions
- Reasonable price
- Excellent build quality
You Won't Like
- Less powerful than other midsize sedans
- Smaller than other midsize sedans
- Poor rear visibility
Perfect hybrid of sedan comfort and outstanding fuel efficiency.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda Insight
- Honda Civic Hybrid
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- Volkswagen Jetta