By on April 17, 2017

2016 Toyota Prius - Image: Toyota

Newfound hybrid competition from the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq has forced Toyota into a mid-year strategy shift. Starting imminently, the automaker plans to offer a less expensive base model of the Prius while bulking up the model’s content with no-charge added safety features.

According to automotive research and car-shopping website CarsDirect, the entry price of a Prius should drop by $1,210, bringing its base MSRP (including destination) to $24,360. That helps close the gap between it and the Ioniq, which has strategically positioned itself as the segment’s value pick.

After destination, the new-for-2017 Ioniq starts at $23,035.

To drop the Prius’ price without taking a financial hit, Toyota has shaved off the rear wiper, spare tire and seatback pockets for both rear occupants. The automaker plans to call the slightly stripped model the Prius One, CarsDirect claims, while keeping all pre-existing driver’s aids.

Toyota spokesman Nate Martinez has confirmed the changes, stating, “We are constantly striving to improve our vehicles for the benefit of our customers, including in key areas such as safety technology and value proposition. The Prius’ MY2017 changes reflect this commitment, and help to further distinguish America’s top-selling hybrid vehicle from its competition, without negatively impacting its MSRP.”

Moving up to the other models in the Prius range, Toyota plans to make its Safety Plus Package standard at no extra cost. That’s a $1,000 value that adds blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and parking assist to an existing roster of driver’s aids, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.

As more and more rivals appear in a difficult segment, the Prius — which used to rule the hybrid landscape — finds itself increasingly under fire. Sales have continued to slide from the model’s 2012 high point, making this latest course of action not at all surprising.

[Image: Toyota]

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39 Comments on “Cheaper Base Price, More Content as the Toyota Prius Fights Back...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    It’s amazing what a little competition will do.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It does wonders for pricing, but not for looks…

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        To me, it’s ooogly! But beauty IS in the eye of the beholder……..

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @highdesertcat: I once said that a car’s exterior styling wasn’t a factor for me – especially if it was functional. Man, do ever regret saying that. First the Murai, now the Prius. Those taillights look so goofy at night.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mcs, brings to mind the story of the old Trabant. But they sold a lot of them because buyers at that time didn’t have a choice.

            Ditto the Prius now vs the Ioniq.

            A little competition goes a long way.

            Both may be butt-ugly cars, but if a buyer has a goal or objective in mind, then ooogly looks will be interpreted as unique, and pioneering.

        • 0 avatar
          TheDoctorIsOut

          We were following one on in traffic a couple of weeks ago, the sci-fi geek in our vanpool (and I mean that warmly) noticed that the front end of the car seems to draw on Darth Vader’s helmet for design inspiration while the rear seems like a Battlestsr Galactica fan used a Cylon for the rear. There was debate over the rest of the car but I can’t remember right now if I stop participating in the discussion because I was bored or the sight of it was making me too nauseous to continue.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            This is one of those styling exercises where a person wonders, “What were they thinking?”

      • 0 avatar
        starskeptic

        jeebus, but that thing is ugly…

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Well, a little competition + disappointing sales.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Hyundai’s got a real catchy ad-jingle, “I’d like to drive a Hybrid, but…..”

        But if Hybrid buyers want proven reliability and dependability, there is only……..Prius.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          The world is full of satisfied Hyundai owners. My wife put 150k on an 07 Tucson. Never had a trip to the shop outside of a timing belt change. It was an incredibly reliable vehicle. It spent 4 winters in upstate NY as well and still wore its factory exhaust and had no body rust. Furthermore if Hyundai had significant reliability issues they’d be going broke with the warranty.

          They are utilitarian, basic, reliable transportation. Who does that sound like?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I helped buy a new 2011 Elantra for my grand daughter’s college days, at ~150miles a day roundtrip.

            It served her well and continues to serve the girl she sold it to after graduation.

            So, yeah, we had a great experience with that Hyundai product.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        It is a mid sized sedan, as in mid sized sedan death watch . . .

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    So you want me to drive a lift back with no rear wiper…no thanks

  • avatar
    tmport

    I would imagine that a big part of the drop in sales is the substantial increase in price with the new generation. In the last year of the previous generation, a Prius Three was selling for around $22-$23,000 in the DC area. The current Prius Three without the advanced technology package sells for around $25,000. (These prices are based on a well-known no-haggle dealership chain in the area.) Granted, the current generation is a better (albeit uglier) car overall than the last one, but a lot of shoppers hone in on the bottom line, and $25,000 is too high.

  • avatar
    MAGICGTI

    No spare tire with weak LRR tires? No thanks.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Anyone who calls the Civic hatch ugly needs to be forced to look at this… thing… for 10 minutes, Clockwork Orange style.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    These things do exactly what people who will actually buy them want them to do. Run forever without causing undo stress to the owners wallet. Toyota is selling the right product for its existing clients and future clients who care about reliability first and foremost. For the rest of you who want “character” you have tons of brands to choose from with the total freedom America has to offer.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    I don’t trust my colorblindy eyes; is that bluish silver or just silver?

    Whatever, I love it! If we must have hiked-up asses on every vehicle then put finlets on ’em!

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I wish I know Spanish better because I cannot determine the content of the Mexican market Prius from their official website. That said, their base model at over $18,000 in equivalent US dollars, and over $21,000 for the high line model, well, it looks like Toyota is taking the US car buyer for a ride, so to speak.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Dumb. Keep the nannies. I’ll take the wiper & spare tire. Hyundai won’t sway Prius buyers.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Since the 2010 introduction of the 3rd generation Prius, there has always been a Prius One.

    It just wasn’t available for public sale. Fleet only.

    I suspect it was the same for the 4th generation Prius. They’re just selling the fleet-spec car to the public.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      The Prius One was available for fleet sales in the 2nd generation, also.

      I know. I have one. And it’s definitely Ace of Base.

      That all being said, they screwed up the back seat space and the rear door on this design. It’s a noticeably smaller back seat, and it’s harder to get into. Screw you, Toyota. Prius should be like the Beetle; just keep making it. Stop throwing stuck-in-the-oven-and-melted design crap on it. Prius buyers can be loyal, but only if Toyota is loyal to them in the first place. The current one shows Toyota being disloyal.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        ^This. I miss the second generation, 2004-2009 Prius. The styling was just right and I would have been perfectly happy if they had, Beetle-like, kept the same shape and just made engineering improvements.

        But, no, Toyota had to get all edgy and go with way-out sci-fi techie styling every cycle to keep it ‘fresh’. I suspect the late fifties’ era styling direction Toyota has taken has managed to scare off those mainstream buyers who were finally able to go with a Prius and will now move on to the better value of the Ioniq or, better yet, the Kia Niro.

        The latest Prius just looks too damn wacky for most people.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Love my 17 Prius two. The rear seat seems a little tight but so does my Ravhybrid. The prius is more comfortable to drive and gets am amazing 52+ mpg. And that is driving California style at 75+mph. I really can’t find much i dislike about the prius except for the cheap wheel covers. Ordered set of center caps for the alloy wheels, which are covered by the wheel cover. the alloys look great and can’t understand why toyota even bothered to cover such handsome wheels. The prius two cost prox $21.5K before sales tax which is a very good deal in my opinion. THis is my 4th toyota hybrid and I will continue to buy them whenever i want a new ride. They just keep running and require hardly any service. Pretty amazing.

  • avatar
    mattwc1

    I am going to echo a lot of other comments. The big elephant in the room is the polarizing styling. Toyota has the hybrid drive train experience, and the brand’s cache, and the reliability of the Prius name. However, the overtly overdone exterior styling is probably the biggest impediment to sales. New competition from the decidedly better looking Ionic and Niro platform mates will probably force Toyota’s hand is scaling back the exterior in the near term.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I rode in a Prius exactly twice. They were both taxicabs. The rides were horrible due to the ride of the car. The rear seat was wee and the suspension felt welded up. Utterly brutal little car that would have a hard life where I both live and need to go. City car in VanGroovy or L.A.? Fine – I guess…

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Buying a car without a spare tire is moronic. A “patch inflator kit” is useless in a lot of situations. Even a space saver spare is nothing to sneeze at.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. That’s why I was willing to pay full fare for the optional donut in my 13 Optima Hybrid.

      I’d rather get back on the road than sit helplessly waiting for roadside assistance, assuming I even have a cell phone signal.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The problem the Prius has is the looks only a Pontiac Aztek could love. Another observation, the very slow 20 year decline of Toyota from its peak continues. We can’t compete on brand, content, or performance, so we’re going to compete on price.

    Where has that worked for any automaker long term. The B&B know this dance music all too well. Also price drops are bad for residual value and resale.

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