Toyota Prius Efficiency & Cost Analysis

This comparison is from a purely efficiency and cost perspective. I used to own a 2021 Model 3 Dual Motor. While it was probably one of the greatest cars I’ve ever owned, it was also the most expensive car I’ve ever owned. Back before the big price hikes, I paid $47,900 before taxes and registration (now as of writing this the current price is a $57,990 – about $10,000 more expensive!) I ended up selling it a month after owning it because of the chip shortage causing the prices of used cars (especially Tesla’s with their long wait times) to spike, and a dealer offered to pay me significantly more than I had just purchased it for.

Economy & Efficiency

Ever since the gas prices climbed to all time highs in 2022, I’ve taken the thought of how much I spend on gas for transportation more serious. I have a daily commute of around 25 miles. I currently drive a Subaru Crosstrek, which is rated at 27MPG City and 34MPG Highway. Despite these ratings, the in-car MPG estimator is no where close to the advertised rating. My commute is 100% through the city with lots of stop and go traffic filled with constant construction. I average 23.7MPG in the city which is pretty bad especially for a non-performance car, and I drive pretty conservatively.

The 2022 Toyota Prius 4th generation is rated at 54MPG City and 50MPG Highway, which is about a 127% increase in fuel efficiency over the Subaru. Many prius owners report getting higher efficiency by stricter driving using hyper-miling techniques. The Prius has a very short all-electric range capability if the traction (Hybrid) battery is charged enough and you don't accelerate too quickly. So if you have some short errands that you need to run it can aid in providing a gas-free trip some of the way if short enough. For example the grocery store I got to is around 0.6 miles from my house, so at least one way I can go pretty much all the way on EV power if the circumstances are right, even though this isn't really the intended purpose of the hybrid battery.

Economics and Cost

Comparing all three cars at normal MSRP pricing, current gas and electricity rates where I live. Not accounting for sales tax or insurance, as those will vary greatly depending on location and the owner. The Fuel / Energy cost is based on my current driving of 13,000 miles annually.

Vehicle MSRP Price Annual Fuel Cost 10-Year Cost Cost Increase %
Toyota Prius $26,285.00 $1,200.00 $38,285.00 + N/A
Subaru Crosstrek $29,595.00 $2,400.00 $53,959.00 + 33.98%
Tesla Model 3 $57,990.00 $945.00 $67,440.00 + 55.15%
As you can see, when it comes down to pure cost and efficiency, the Prius comes out as the best option for most use cases, which is what led to me trading in my Subaru for it. There's also an argument to be made for people that own their own solar panels to charge EV's, but most people are leasing them because of the big upfront cost which adds an additional monthly payment technically towards electricity. If they are paid off you'd then need to account for the total price of the solar system and factor that against how long that would take to spend an equal of gas consumption with an internal combustion car.

To wrap things up, If you are thinking about getting into a cost-effective and super efficient hybird, it's hard to beat the Prius and I highly recommend it.