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All generations of Toyota Prius: from ugly little swan to good looking thing – AutoRAI TV

February 28, 2023

1997, the year of the Toyota Prius

It’s 1997. The Provincial Council of Friesland decides that the province is officially called Fryslân, the Tamagotchi is unstoppable worldwide and one J.K. Rowling releases her first Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Seems to have become quite successful. At the Tokyo Motor Show, Japanese automaker Toyota is presenting a car called Prius, a name that translates freely in Latin as “The First. It is Toyota’s first hybrid.

Toyota Prius coming to the Netherlands in 2000

The car initially entered the Japanese market only. In 2000, the sedan did come to Europe. Of course, with hybrid technology. That sedan shape was soon scrapped. Starting with the second generation Toyota Prius, the car became a streamlined hatchback. You even had another Prius+, a gasoline hybrid with seven seats. A kind of MPV-like station wagon. Interest in the Prius in the Netherlands was initially very small. But then tax incentives came along and the Prius was unstoppable. We remain Dutch, of course.

Toyota Prius - GEN1

Goat wool socks?

When all tax incentives disappeared, so did demand for the Prius. Globally, the Prius also hit the road hard. It was seen as the “lifesaver” and many celebrities drove a Prius. As a statement, or just because they thought it drove economically. Because economical the Prius has always been. Sexy maybe not. For that reason, the car was also laughed at by some. People thought he was a bit boring and cited the woolly socks.


Actually, unfairly, because a car like the Toyota Prius should be understood. The shape has a function: to cut through the wind as efficiently as possible to achieve the lowest possible consumption when combined with the hybrid powertrain. I once drove a fourth-generation hybrid Prius to Le Mans over 500 kilometers and recorded an average of 1 in 25. That’s just really neat.

Toyota Prius - all generations

Cursed, laughed at and loved

The second-generation Prius appeared in 2003. The third edition came in 2009. The fourth variant entered the market in 2016. The production counter now stands at over six million copies. All these years, the model has emphasized efficiency and electrification. He was cursed, laughed at, praised but also loved. Despite all these “emotions,” the Prius kept its head above water.

Also plug-in hybrids

Each generation of Prius became more fuel-efficient and cleaner than the version before it. Initially, they were only hybrids, where an electric motor provided support to a gasoline engine. Plug-in hybrids have appeared since the third-generation Prius. The fourth-generation Prius was even offered as a Plug-in Hybrid with a special option: solar panels on the roof.

Toyota Prius

Bit of appreciation please

See here also the fifth-generation Toyota Prius. A car that stands its ground. Indeed, the Prius has actually become a sexy car. So from ugly swan to hot thing. You could almost make a movie about it. What have we learned from the Prius? That you should never judge on appearance. And that there may well be some appreciation for the Prius, because thanks to the Prius, other car manufacturers also tackled hybrid technology.

The new Toyota Prius in a nutshell:

ALL TOYOTA PRIUS GENERATIONS: from ugly little swan to hot thing – AutoRAI TV

Toyota Prius - GEN1

Toyota Prius - all generations