Long maligned for prioritizing efficiency and affordability over performance and design, the Toyota Prius is finally vindicated.

On Thursday, MotorTrend magazine awarded the Prius its prestigious car of the year award, citing the vehicle’s “astounding transformation.”

What You Need To Know

  • The Toyota Prius has won MotorTrend magazine's 2024 Car of the Year

  • The magazine cited the car's "astounding transformation"

  • "The latest model shatters expectations for the best-looking, best-driving, most powerful and most efficient Prius yet," MotorTrend said

  • The 2024 Toyota Prius beat the Model 3 Highland, Lucid Air and Hyundai Ioniq 6 for the prestigious award

“Toyota has fundamentally redefined the essence of a Prius with its new model, which represents a crowning achievement in its evolution,” MotorTrend Group head of editorial Ed Loh said in a statement. “The Prius succeeded in capturing the hearts and minds of MotorTrend judges by offering an undeniably attractive and engaging car all while upholding its hallmark traits of efficiency, safety and affordability.”

Sexy isn’t a word that’s typically uttered in combination with the most iconic of eco cars, but that changed with a 2023 model year update that gave it a sleek new exterior and under-the-hood upgrades to match. The updated version is the most fuel efficient in the model’s 23-year history, with a combined fuel economy of 57 mpg. 

“The latest model shatters expectations as the best-looking, best-driving, most powerful and most efficient Prius yet,” MotorTrend editors said of the hybrid car, which has a starting price of $28,745.

They praised its cabin for being “refreshingly cohesive, eliminating the hodgepodge of plastics, obtuse low-resolution infotainment and instrument displays and questionable materials found on prior generations.

“This new Prius looks so sharp, cool and interesting that I’m happy about driving the car before I even start rolling forward,” executive editor Mac Morrison said.

In its upgraded form, the Prius experience behind the wheel is equally enhanced with a new 2-liter, inline-four engine that boosted the horsepower from 95 to 150, as well as improved braking and steering.

“What’s this? A chassis that isn’t deathly allergic to spirited driving?” Morrison said of the Prius. “I was able to keep up with a Model 3 on our twisty road route with zero trouble. And I had a smile while doing so. Never before have I experienced this in a Prius.”

The Prius beat the Tesla Model 3 Highland, Lucid Air, Hyundai Ioniq 6 and other 2024 models for the prestigious car of the year prize. Since 1949, the auto magazine has awarded car of the year to the best new or significantly revised car of a given model year. Last year’s winner was the Genesis G90 luxury sedan.