2021 Toyota Prius 2020 Edition new car reviews

There might not be much worth celebrating this year, but Toyota is celebrating 20 years of its Prius in the United States (as it turns out, the Prius first went on sale in Japan back in 1997) with this, the 2020 Edition.

What’s so special about this special edition hybrid? For starters, only 2020 will be built, finished in your choice of either Supersonic Red or Wind Chill Pearl. Also unique to the 2020 Edition is a heap of black accents, including the wheel inserts, headlights housings and pretty much all of the exterior trim.

Equipment-wise, this special edition is based on the mid-range XLE trim—1.8-liter hybrid powertrain and all—though the interior does feature some exclusive touches like “2020 Edition” floor mats and even more black accents.

Regardless, does this special edition Prius give us any special feelings? You’ll have to read our driving impressions below.

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Other staff views

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Congratulations, Toyota, on 20 years of Prius. We were there when you launched it, and you made the hybrid idea stick. It was more than a radical glimpse into the future; it was a view of an obtainable future. And today, hate to say it, it’s almost a throwback machine–no plug-in, no true EV.

But maybe don’t call this one a 2020 Edition. Other ideas that might go over better: Celebration Edition, Platinum Edition, Severed Head on a Pike Edition. But, please, ixnay the entytway entytway.

Other than the most unfortunate naming decision, it drives like a Prius: kinda cold yet practical.

J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

No, I don’t understand the name either. Maybe “Who’s on first edition” was already taken, or maybe Toyota just thinks it’s hilarious, but let’s look past the weird name and find the car that hides within.

Yeah, it’s a Prius, and there’s a reason that it’s kind of the standard for small-but-roomy hybrid utility hatchbacks. We already knew Priuses were competent and frugal, but we wanted to take it a step further so we took this one to the track. Look, we had the track time booked already, then the press car rotation got switched, and there’s no way we were giving up the track time. Plus, we legit wanted to know what a Prius would be like on track. I’m sure there are more than a few people that have no capacity for a dedicated track toy in their fleet, and have to make do with what they have.

Well, if what they have is a new Prius, they absolutely won’t be disappointed. You’ll be able to see our full track review on YouTube soon, but suffice to say that although the Prius can’t make up much ground in the straights, it handles shockingly well, and brakes like a legit sports sedan.

Then you get to drive home getting 45+ mpg.

The 2020 package actually gives the Prius a little visual presence, too. The blacked-out trim and deep red color give the lines—which still look futuristic in the current guise, even though it’s far from the only hybrid on the road anymore—just the right accents. Views out are minivan-broad but with a more sedan-like seating position.

There’s really a lot to like, here. Chances are you’re not going to hit the track in your Prius, but knowing you can just bolsters the already substantial vibe of quality and competence that the car is famous for.

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irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/24/20 9:16 p.m.

is "wheel inserts" the new way of saying "hubcaps," or are they something else?

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/24/20 9:25 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

It's sort of like the M-System wheels that came on the E34 M5, the earlier fan blades and later turbines. It is an alloy wheel behind there, I'm not sure what the reasoning is here (maybe weight savings?) but our 2010 Prius at work has a similar setup.

The original

Same wheel, different cover which was used on later M5's

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/24/20 11:16 p.m.

In reply to adam525i (Forum Supporter) :

so it makes the wheel have a better aero profile i believe, but with lower weight.

or it may just be better looks and lower weight.

but i'd put money behind weight reduction of the wheel being the primary reason.


Old_Town Reader
11/25/20 8:22 a.m.

Just by the headline, I was expecting to see something like this as the "2020 Edition" Prius... Carry on. 


adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/25/20 8:47 a.m.

That's actually a good picture showing how the wheels are setup, that car is identical to ours here. It's funny how the covers make the wheels look a size larger than they actually are.

rslifkin UltraDork
11/25/20 8:54 a.m.

The wheel trim pieces on older Priuses are certainly for aerodynamics.  They built the wheels for light weight, then added the clip on plastic bits to make the faces more aerodynamic and mate them up to the tires with less of a lip.  Building that into the wheel design would have most likely added too much weight, or reduced strength, or made the wheel itself too easy to damage. 

twowheeled New Reader
11/26/20 12:12 p.m.

Oh...be still my beating heart!

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/27/20 8:57 a.m.

I actually think that it looks very good in the red/black (vs standard treatment). When this generation of Prius came out I considered myself pretty interested, but other than the Prime (which has much worse taillights!!) that has waned. I allowed myself to get a little excited again when they announced the AWD version, but alas unlike the Highlander Hybrid I once owned, putting a rear diff in this car did not also result in 50 extra hp being present under WOT.  And that's really the rub. I've owned a high-13 second hybrid and a low-15 second hybrid that are now 15 year old designs. They gave you a giggle factor to go along with their efficiency gains. The Rav4 Prime currently carries that torch and I'm happy it exists, but the Prius has sort of lost me by never becoming not-slow. You CAN have both, and Toyota will give it to you in certain cars, but the fact that it never trickled down to the Prius even a little bit makes me sad. 


Vaguely-related. I picked up my old Prius from my father in law last night to bring in for repairs. At 326k miles, it finally broke. Based on the pattern of noises it has made over the past 40k miles or so, it seems like there is a brake pressure accumulator that the ABS motor keeps pumped up and that its been leaking down faster and faster causing the pump motor to run more and more until finally now it stopped trying, lit up ALL the lights, and has no power assist to the brakes. I barely know how the system works because apparently it works until after the rest of the car is in the junkyard, but this one isn't in a junkyard so i get to find out how it works now. 

How time flies.

I like the poverty hubcap look.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/29/20 10:04 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) :

It's like we've gone back to where we started. I'm also guessing that Toyota came up with the name and marketing campaign way before 2020 went off the rails. 


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