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2014 Toyota Prius Four

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Cheryl Hybridby Cheryl Eldridge

The 2014 Toyota Prius Hybrid is one tough cookie. It might not be the most attractive car on the block, but it definitely defines the statement “beauty from within.”
My one week tester hatchback was coated in a classic silver metallic with gray interior, and thanks to Toyota’s new spacing, legroom and elbow-room was perfect for a family of five.
My Prius was loaded with all of the amenities, safety and convenience that any driver would enjoy.
For the past decade, the Toyota Prius has dominated the hybrid car segment. In its early years, the Prius faced little competition, but these days there are plenty of compact and midsize hybrids in this price range. The fact that Toyota’s iconic hybrid hatchback has remained number one is a testament to its packaging. The well-rounded 2014 Toyota Prius hits all the targets for most consumers shopping in this class.
The big contributor to the Prius’ evergreen popularity is its amazing fuel economy – the Prius’ EPA combined rating of 50 mpg is topped only by the smaller Prius C and much more expensive plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt. The Prius is also a pleasant car to drive in the daily grind and  is an easy-to-park, comfortable and spacious vehicle. And then there’s the Prius’ strong record for reliability and longevity. Considering all these practical attributes, it’s no wonder you see Priuses used as taxicabs in many cities.
That said, the 2014 Toyota Prius remains the quintessential hybrid, and its blend of fuel efficiency, practicality, comfort and handy high-tech features makes it an easy choice in this segment.
The 2014 Toyota Prius is a five-passenger, four-door hatchback available in four trim levels: Two, Three, Four and Five. The “Five” is not to be confused with the Prius V, which is a larger wagon version of the Prius.
Standard equipment on the Prius Two includes 15-inch alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, a rear window wiper, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, an advanced trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Prius Three gains an enhanced keyless entry system, a rearview camera, a navigation system, voice controls, satellite radio, HD radio and Toyota’s Entune system, which includes real-time information (traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores) and the ability to use apps like Pandora, iHeart Radio and Open Table via a connection with your smartphone.
My tester, the Prius Four gets you automatic headlights, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, SofTex (leatherette) upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a JBL sound system with eight GreenEdge speakers.
The Prius Five features 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights and LED headlights.
An optional Solar Roof package for the Prius Three adds a sunroof and a solar-powered ventilation system that keeps the car cool to limit the burden on the air-conditioning system. It’s also offered for the Four, and then includes a head-up display, Safety Connect emergency communications and an upgraded navigation system with a 7-inch high-definition display and split-screen capability.
The Five’s Advanced Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision alert system, a lane-departure warning system, Safety Connect, a head-up display and the higher-quality navigation display.
Available on all trims is the Plus Appearance package, which adds unique 17-inch alloy wheels and a seven-piece aerodynamic body kit. To this, the Plus Performance package (availability depends on trim level) adds a sport-tuned suspension and unique badging.
The 2014 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a pair of electric motor/generators. Together they send a total output of 134 horsepower to the front wheels through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT).
On the safety side, every 2014 Toyota Prius comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver’s knee airbag. The Prius Four and Five can be equipped with Toyota’s Safety Connect emergency communications system, which includes emergency and roadside assistance, collision notification and stolen vehicle location. All but the Prius Two come standard with a rearview camera, while the Prius Five includes a frontal-collision warning system and a lane-departure warning system.
In government crash tests, the Prius received four stars (out of a possible five) for overall protection, four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Prius the highest possible rating of “Good” in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated “Good” for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
The 2014 Toyota Prius features straightforward controls that jut out toward the driver in a “floating console” that provides a storage tray underneath. It’s stylish and also helps maximize cabin space. The digital instrument panel features a floating layer that displays audio, temperature and trip computer information when the driver touches those controls on the steering wheel, minimizing eye movement. Some drivers might find the overall design a bit too busy-looking, however.
The standard touchscreen operates many of the Prius’ high-tech features and is, for the most part, smartly designed. The Entune system in the Prius Three and above can be a hassle, though, since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account; plus, you always need an active data connection to use Entune.
The Prius remains highly versatile. The hatchback body style provides considerably more cargo capacity than a typical midsize sedan, and the backseat offers plenty of space for passengers. Sadly, taller drivers still have to contend with a steering wheel that’s placed too far away. Even though there’s a telescoping column, it doesn’t come out nearly far enough to enable a comfortable driving position.
My sticker price loaded was $33,358 and I really enjoyed driving the Prius and am looking forward to testing the Prius  Five.
Until next week, drive, safe, buckle up, don’t text and drive and be a courteous driver. There’s nothing like being nice to someone,  you always get something in return, even if it’s a smile.