Yes, Toyota Prius II because nobody bought the first model. Toyota Prius II, the car that started the eco-hysteria in America. But how did it fare in Europe?

Before we talk about all the eco-mania started by the Toyota Prius II in America, we need to understand a little context. The Prius caught on so well with the public because it was one of the first hybrid cars that actually worked in everyday life. But there’s also another good reason: fuel economy.

Yes, all the hypocritical celebrities pulled the Toyota Prius II to show the world that they were more in tune with the fashion world than Sam Smith, but to the average American all that mattered was fuel economy and that was because of one word: diesel.


Or rather the absence of diesel engines. Yep, in the US they don’t sell diesel engines because they don’t meet the pollution standards imposed by the local government. Sure, you can have a 5.7 V10 petrol naturally aspirated behemoth. But a 2.0 diesel with 4 cylinders? Don’t even think about it. But then again, in the US it’s legal to drive a car when you’re 16, to kill someone when you’re 18 when you’re drafted and sent to the frontlines, but you’re not allowed to drink alcohol until you’re 21.


This is 2003. The best-selling car in the US is the Toyota Camry, followed by the Honda Accord. The Camry came with a 2.4 naturally aspirated gasoline in the standard version and goes up to a 3.3 V6, and the Honda Accord also starts with a 2.4 gasoline and ends with just a 3.0 V6 gasoline. If you still didn’t get the message, 3rd in sales was the Ford Taurus, with a 200 horsepower 3.0 V6 petrol. Those were the cheapest and most economical cars of the time. To come up with a 1.5 Atkinson gasoline and an electric motor, delivering only 99 horses combined, that’s atleast brave. It’s like Joe Lo Truglio challenging Terry Crews to a match; like having Gordon Ramsay challenge a college student to see who can come up with a more ingenious menu on a budget of 1.50 pounds. It’s like bringing Philomena Cunk and Ali G to debate against Mike Tyson. Or was it Neil DeGrasse Tyson? 

Toyota Prius II Engines


1.5 petrol + electric motor of 99 horsepower – I’ll start with the petrol engine. It’s a 1.5 petrol which operates on Atkinson cycle, code name 1NZ-FXE, tuned specifically for fuel economy. No noticeable issues with it other than an appetite for oil that develops late in life. And then comes the electric drivetrain. Toyota has shown that the batteries can go up to 300,000 miles, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues to consider.


Toyota Prius II General Issues

  • I’ll start with the Toyota Prius II’s party piece, namely the hybrid drivetrain. It has some batteries that at some point are done and need to be replaced. You have a choice: either you change them completely from the dealership and pay about 4000 euros, or you replace them with aftermarket batteries for about 2000 euros or you refurbish them for about 1000 euros. Refurbishing only involves changing the battery cells, because those are the only components that are actually wasted, the battery is functional. 
  • It’s a hybrid so you never have to jump-start it up like a normal car in case you’re left with your pants down. The Toyota Prius II needs a trickle charger to keep the batteries constantly charged, otherwise if you jump start it like a normal car by using cables, you’ll fry the systems.
  • You’d think a hybrid would be a great car for the city, and in the case of the Toyota Prius II you’d be more wrong than the show “Takeshi’s Castle!”. The auxiliary battery, the one that handles the rest of the systems, needs occasional long trips, otherwise it can’t hold power if it’s only driven short distances. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions about hybrids, that they’re good for short-distance driving.
  • Frequent wheel bearing issues so get ready to stock up like Black Friday is coming.
  • Not necessarily an issue, but take a look at that interior. Not to say I haven’t looked, but I’ve had conjunctivitis, color blindness, epilepsy, Basedow’s disease, cataracts, covid-19, osteoporosis, a few diseases that start with the letter “S”.


Toyota Prius II Verdict

I still don’t know if the Toyota Prius II was successful because it was a hybrid and called itself The Captain Planet of the Car World, even though producing batteries is a dirty, toxic job. I think it was more successful because it was fuel efficient and came with that social stigma of being a warrior of the planet because. If it were a person, the Toyota Prius II would be the Minelli. Hybrid technology had been on the market for some time but had an obscure community following it. Then came the Toyota Prius II and suddenly it became an overnight success, only to fade back into anonymity, only to pop up in memory occasionally.



What engines do I recommend? 1.5 petrol hybrid because it’s the only one available. And that’s not a bad thing.