Toyota Prius Price Steadily Increasing

Toyota Prius

As gas prices continue to rise this year, the Toyota Prius is again in heavy demand. Toyota sold 18,605 of the hybrids in March, up 52% from last March. Gas prices rose 84 cents in that time to $3.66 a gallon nationwide.

If you’re looking for the only 50 mpg car on the market, you’ll have to pay $1,500 more today than you would have when the latest Prius debuted in 2009. The price hike isn't due to unscrupulous car dealers preying on buyers; it's the result of a steady midyear price increase that Toyota issues to most of its models.

When the news of Toyota’s midyear price increases hit last week, we noticed that the price of the Prius didn’t quite match up with what we had on Cars.com. After May’s price increases, the Prius starts at $22,120, a $470 boost, for the entry-level Prius One (formerly Prius I). However, Toyota’s website and Cars.com both show a current price of $23,050 – which will increase to $23,520 starting in May. That’s because Toyota is no longer advertising the Prius One on its retail site.

Although the Prius One is no longer advertised on Cars.com’s or Toyota’s websites, we have confirmed that the model is still available. “The Prius One can [still] be purchased at retail,” Toyota spokesman Sam Butto said. “However, it is a very low-volume vehicle, so chances are if you want to purchase one, you will need to order it through your local dealer because they probably will not have them in their inventory.”

The Prius One was a late trim offering when the third-generation Prius was launched in late 2009. It was never meant to be a big seller, but it was still advertised as the Prius’ base price. Also worth a quick note: Toyota has stopped using Roman numerals. “Prius Two” was a “Prius II” last year; we also thought the latter was confusing.

Most times, Cars.com editors routinely refer to the more common Prius Two in terms of starting prices for the model because most shoppers will not find the Prius One on lots. The Prius One comes equipped with the basics and a few thrills: automatic climate control with air filtration; power windows, locks and mirrors; and push-button start. The Prius One has primarily been sold to fleet customers, Butto said.

The Prius Two has six speakers (compared with the One’s four), passenger-side seatback pocket, satellite radio, rear hatchback wiper, tonneau cover, passive smart key entry, cruise control and the coveted EV button. The EV button is good for driving one or two miles on all-electric power at low speeds, with the battery fully charged. The Prius Two costs $1,400 more than the Prius One.

If you just focus on the Prius Two's price increase from $22,000 to $23,520 in two years’ time with little added to its standard equipment, you'd be surprised at the jump. Typically, Toyota and other import brands adjust prices 1% to 2%, and we've seen adjustments as little as $90. A $500 increase for the Prius Two this year is significant, and it alters the value equation, albeit slightly, of the Prius. Is the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI and its $22,095 starting price and 42 mpg highway rating more attractive when the 2011 Prius starts $1,425 higher?

The Prius is in short supply because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last month. Production was halted between March 14 and March 28. Toyota resumed Prius production last week, and spokesman Steven Curtis says new shipments are en route to the U.S.

Even so, the two-week halt has caused some temporary inventory issues. Prius inventory has dropped in half, but with 12,250 still available at U.S. dealerships, the automaker says its 18 days’ worth of supply is still adequate, according to USA Today.

Comments 

Tony

So what?
Unless gas will be in the range of $8 per gallon the small car such as Elantra or Mazda3 2L still will be more economical through the life-cycle then Prius. Of course, if you buy one for $16K, not the one for $20K.

55

boy, it looks ugly from this angle

Tony,
Prius is considered a mid-size due to interior volume. It has a really big back seat. So it should be compared to Accord, Fusion etc which are priced much closer. But for pure economy, yes, it'd be smarter to get an Elantra or other sub $20 car that gets close to 40 mpg hwy.

Tony

Dave,
I've tested Prius extensively. And I don't really care what EPA writes on the label for it but while it's "really big back seat" or the rear side in general, feels a little roomier then any compact car, it is still some ways smaller of Accord's accommodations. 3 across the back would still be tight.
BTW. Passenger volume of Accord is 106, Prius 93 and Mazda3 sedan 94
Shoulder room in rear 56, 53, 54.
Hip Room 54, 51, 52.
According to Vehix.
Now, how Prius became "medium" in EPA books - I don't know. May be by its weight. It did feel heavy and it is 200lb heavier then Mazda3 and 200lb lighter then Accord. No wonder, Mazda3 feels light on its legs.

The EPA bases class size on interior passenger and cargo volume.

A mid-sized car needs to have 110 to 119 collective cubic feet of interior space. The Toyota Prius as 116 cu. ft., a Mazda3 has 106 cu. ft.

Nice tidbit: By EPA estimations the Nissan Leaf is also a mid-sizer, with 113 cu. ft.

Amuro Ray

2 points:

(1) Price difference makes sense? Yes. You are paying for a much more techno advance vehicles, but you will recover cost from gas alone in about 10 years (vs Elantra), assuming that gas prices stay at $4 / gal. As prices of gas go up, the shorter the time period - on gas alone.

If your argument is that I only keep my car for 5 years and sell it afterwards, then you recover much faster, because resales value of Prius is much higher than Elantra in 5 years.

(2) Don't forget about emission. There are 2 parts to green vehicles - decrease gas consumption and minimize emission! The emission from a hybrid vehicle is much much lower than an ICE vehicle. (3.8 ton vs 5.7 ton of CO2, for Prius and Elantra, respectively, as per fueleconomy.gov).

Bob

I'm not certain I understand the purpose of this article. I thought that most auto manufacturers increase MSRP periodically (every year or every other year) for their products. Why single out the Prius?

@Bob because the price has increased somewhat significantly. Typically automakers jump prices by 1% - 2% during model year change overs. The Prius has increased by 6% - 10%.

Tony

Bob,
the point here is not the price of the vehicle but actual amount you pay. When I looked at the Prius, the price was invoice price minus $1000. This is because I talked to the salesman and he gave me the price $1000 under invoice. Today you will not get deal like that on Prius. May be few hundred under MSRP - today.
Demand brings actual price up.

Tony

Colin,

I am glad for Prius's huge trunk but it doesn't make the back seat any more spacious.

Tony

Amuro,

when it comes to CO2 - this is your pure will to volunteer.

When it comes to recovery on the gas, based on EPA calculation I have 7.5 years of recovery. My actual fuel numbers make it more years unless Prius over-performs. I was coming out of my situation - 80% HWY driving. My car listed as 28mpg average while I regularly return 30-33mpg on a tank.

And when it comes to technology, to me, this is technology vs. simplicity.

And then there is another thing... pleasure. I have some pleasure driving Mazda3 vs driving Prius. I have to say, Prius is a pleasant car when it rolls forward. But it feels heavy and unmovable from the stand-still. Also, lots of people have funny feeling from regenerative braking. I saw no problem, it is like downshifting on the manual.

Tony,
You're totally right on specs. Perhaps the 3 is slightly bigger than Prius but I haven't been in them back to back, and not in a 3 in a while. But I do remember it being good for a compact. But a Mazda3 hatch starts near $20K so it's not exactly the cheapest option.

qdp

Visiting gat stations is ususally not very pleasent experience, so skipping visiting them as many as possible is making alot of economic sense, though

qdp

Buying hybrid or EV is hedging for the future: If there are more and more hybrids on the road or gas price goes further up, than conventional cars' resale value will nose-dive for sure.

Mark of Excellence

Prius is a great car. A friend of mine is AVERAGING 57 mpg. No other car comes close, except the Chevy Volt, which I prefer over the prius. But for the price you can't beat the Prius with its great economy and mid size room. Tony, Mazda 3 is a smaller car than Prius - there's no comparison.

Tony

Mark,

Mazda3 feels smaller in the back but numbers tell completely different story. I think the catch here is a bump between the seats in Mazda.
Now, 57mpg is great. And what about the winter?
Again. When I apply Prius to myself is not as worthy as for somebody else. They tested Prius around the city and it returned over 60mpg city only. But I drive 80%+ highway. My Mazda3 2L manual makes 36+mpg highway and this is good enough to stay away from the Prius.

Sarah

I was trying to pinpoint what specifically was bothering me about this price issue in particular (i.e., the Prius). And then it hit me: Wasn't the Prius introduced to purportedly help the *environment* - not merely the consumer? -- So, to then take advantage of a lousy situation for the consumer (i.e., gas price hikes)...that seems lousy/wrong to me. I'm not being ingenuous. Toyota can afford to *not* do this.

James

With the introduction of new Prius models we can see that this vehicle is improving and we are utilizing newer technologies in new models. We also deal in such vehicles and you can easily find Toyota Prius Price at SBT Japan.

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