Young people are growing increasingly worried about climate change. So it might be a good idea for parents to buy green cars for their teens. Though EVs are certainly an option, the hybrid Toyota Prius is affordable, safe, and eco-friendly. Here’s a look at the Toyota Prius model years with the best mix of those traits.
The IIHS lists the safest and most affordable cars
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is one of the leading safety organizations in America. Recently, the IIHS released a list of cars that are safe and relatively affordable for teens. All of these cars must have good safety ratings from the IIHS or the NHTSA, the nation’s other major safety organization.
Top Safety Pick+ is an award the IIHS gives to cars that meet its highest standards for safety. Not only must the cars perform well during crash tests, but they must also come with certain safety features.
As for pricing, the IIHS put a limit of $6,000 to $20,000 for the used cars on its list. When the institute considered these and other factors, a few Prius model years rose to the top.
The safest and most affordable Toyota Prius model years
According to the IIHS, any Toyota Prius built after November 2013 for the 2014 model year or later is one of the safest and most affordable cars on the market. A brand-new 2021 Prius is too expensive to appear on this list, but as long as you choose a model no older than 2014, it should be fine. That’s because, though the 2013 Prius was safe, Toyota made safety improvements for the next model year.
On top of that, the 2014 Prius is one of the most affordable and safe small cars that the IIHS recommends. In fact, it’s the second cheapest small sedan on the list. A used 2014 Prius costs about $8,600, the IIHS reports. The only small car that’s cheaper is the Mazda 3, which costs around $8,100.
In addition, there’s a big gap between the price of the Prius and the third-place car. The IIHS recommends only 2017 or newer models of the other small cars, which means their purchase price is significantly higher. As such, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT ranks third and costs about $15,200.
Why does the IIHS recommend the 2014 Toyota Prius?
The 2014 Toyota Prius is a very safe car, but it’s not perfect. According to Consumer Reports, Toyota has issued four recalls for this model year — in 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2020. They all concern the hybrid propulsion system.
According to CR, “Excessive voltage in the Intelligent Power Module (IPM) within the inverter may cause the hybrid system to shut down, causing the vehicle to stall while being driven.”
But it’s an easy fix. CR says that “dealers will update the software for the motor/generator control electronic control unit (ECU) and the hybrid control ECU as necessary, free of charge.”
Regardless, the Prius remains a top pick for anyone who wants a safe, cheap, green vehicle.
CR shows that the 2014 Prius gets 32 mpg in the city, 55 mpg on the highway, and 44 mpg combined. However, owners reported a slightly better fuel economy of about 46 mpg combined. Either way, this model is a Consumer Reports Green Choice for its low tailpipe emissions.
Plus, like any other Toyota, the 2014 Prius boasts an excellent reliability score. So the car should keep going for a long time without any significant problems.
That said, it’s still a Prius, so it isn’t the fastest ride on the road. But that’s probably the best for new drivers.