I took my blue 2021 Prius Prime Limited for an oil change at West Coast Toyota of Long Beach yesterday. It costs $50 with the tire rotation and multipoint inspection using the AdvantageCARE package. While I was waiting, I went out to the parking lot to see if there were any Gen 5 Priuses out. And there were three parked side by side—a blue XLE, a red XLE AWD, and a silver Limited AWD! While I was looking at them, a salesperson came and asked me if I was interested in test-driving them. Since I am on the waiting list at Longo Toyota for a Gen 5 Prius Prime, I said no but I asked perhaps if I could sit in one. In fact, it turned out that they had left the doors on one of them open. Nevertheless, he was eager to get the keys. So, I ended up test-driving the blue XLE. I chose a non-AWD because I am interested in a Prius Prime, which has no AWD. I also turned on the Limited AWD and tested its JBL audio vs. the stock audio on the XLE. What a day it was! I was testing them for about an hour and a half, and they already called me to be pick up my car while I was still out there. It was nothing I expected. Gen 5 is a totally different car. It is no longer a Prius except for the badge—and not in a good way. There is so much more to it than the reviewers on the car blogs have been posting. Therefore, I am posting my review. I owned a used light-blue 1985 Corolla LE, a brand-new red 2009 Corolla XLE, a brand-new silver 2020 Prius Prime XLE, and I currently own a brand-new-purchased blue 2021 Prius Prime Limited. As a result, I have a good perspective on Toyotas as well as the previous-generation Prius Prime. Here comes the review: Highs: somewhat improved styling improved cornering smaller steering wheel easy, fun to drive standard ADAS with all current Toyota safety features on all trims (except no FTCA, LCA, and TJA on non-Prime models) improved multimedia functionality, including wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay giant, clear multimedia display as an option on XLE and standard on Limited (albeit, the smaller display on the lower trims is probably also OK) electronic parking brake thanks to Gen 5 Toyota Hybrid System (THS 5), much better very low-speed driving with much better HEV brake modulation and creeping at very low speeds—car stops or almost stops when no gas pedal applied and takes off very gradually when gas pedal applied instead of jackrabbiting with very little gas as in the previous generation Lows: no longer a family car cramped, claustrophobic interior, with very low ceiling low visibility from inside, especially thanks to the window pillars much narrower and much shorter trunk—much smaller than the previous generation—added depth improves the EPA-volume number and equates to that of the previous generation but does not actually help mushy, vague, slow steering at center with nonexistent road feel, negating the improved cornering ability—a 180° downgrade from the previous generation dismal stock audio with very poor sound quality, JBL audio does not help much tiny meter-gauge display with a labyrinth menu nauseating glossy black plastic trim on XLE/XSE and Limited/XSE Premium lack of good color choices Road test If you owned a previous-generation Prius, when you first sit in a Gen 5 Prius, you will immediately feel a shock. The interior feels much smaller (and is smaller) than the previous generations—at least the useable parts. The best way of describing it is that getting out of a Gen 4 Prius and then getting into a Gen 5 Prius feels like getting out of a small SUV and getting into a mini car (not even a subcompact) from 1970s or 1980s. The headroom is virtually nonexistent for a person of any height, and the cabin simply feels cramped, both in the front seats and rear seats. You can see how cramped the interior is in my photo below. The same goes for the trunk. The EPA values that show that Gen 4 and Gen 5 have the same or nearly the same trunk volume do not convey the truth. There is no trunk depth left, and the width is much narrower as well. The trunk height must have been improved to make up for the greatly reduced depth and width, but that is not going to help with cargo in most situations. The new flimsy removable nontelescopic trunk cover is also a major downgrade from the removable telescopic trunk cover of the previous generation. Previous-generation Priuses used to be very good, popular family cars. Gen 5 Prius can no longer be considered a family car due to its cramped cabin and small trunk. It is no longer suitable for people with children or for more than two adults. It also no longer makes a good ridesharing car. Someone once told me that his Gen 2 Prius was his "escape pod," in which he could isolate himself from the world and find peace. Any previous-generation Prius owner knows what this means. This serenity and peace when you are inside a Prius is all but gone in Gen 5 Prius. It no longer offers comfortable everyday commuting or driving, let alone a comfortable road trip. Visibility from inside is greatly compromised, especially with the large window pillars, which somehow always get in the way of your vision. Unlike some other reviewers, I actually liked the low-angle windshield and did not find it objectionable. I found the faux-leather seats in Gen 5 Prius less comfortable than the faux-leather seats in my Gen 4 Prius Prime. Exterior styling is improved and more modern design features are employed, which makes the car somewhat good-looking, but I don't find the car's looks stunning in any way and, at some angles, I don't even like them. Nevertheless, aesthetics is highly subjective and personal. One thing that looked really bad was the glossy black exterior trim all over the car, which I found nauseating for the lack of a better word. The lower LE/SE trims replace them with matte black plastic trim, which might be less objectionable, but again, aesthetics is personal. Exterior color choices are very limited and unexciting. Interior color choices are dark gray (misleadingly called black by Toyota) or light gray. When you start driving the new Prius, you will immediately feel the difference. The electronic parking brake is confusing to operate if you never used it, like in my case, but I find it as a welcome upgrade. However, I kept looking for the foot parking brake with my left food. The most noticeable difference is in the way how the vehicle takes off. Since I was driving a brand-new car in a dealer lot, I was afraid that I could give too much gas and hit something since I am not used to its gas pedal, which could happen with some cars. It turned out that there was nothing to worry about, as the new Prius takes off and drives with little gas better than any car I ever drove. The way they did this in Gen 5 Toyota Hybrid System (THS 5) is perfect, with the car not moving (or moving extremely slowly) with no gas applied—and with perfect brake modulation. It was very impressive. When I merged on the street and started driving the car, it immediately resulted in one of my biggest disappointments with the new Prius. I owned a brand-new 2009 Corolla, and it was the first Toyota to ever employ electric steering. It was awful, being very vague at the center. I even complained to NHTSA and they came and investigated it. When I first test-drove a 2020 Prius Prime, steering felt perfect at center. It was even further improved in my 2021 Prius Prime. My 2021 Prius Prime's steering is very firm and fairly quick at center with good road feeling. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case in Gen 5 Prius, which brings back my bad memories with my 2009 Corolla. The steering feels vague, mushy, and slow at center with nonexistent road feel. I call such steering "grandparent steering." It was a big turn-off for me and a possible deal-breaker. While the new Prius's acceleration capabilities are highly praised, in normal driving you hardly ever notice them if at all, as the previous-generation Prius provides adequate acceleration for normal driving as well. I guess you would feel it if you floored the pedal, which is something I never do and I will never do with any car I own unless there is an emergency. Nevertheless, the new Prius is indeed very quick on its feet with its steering response, which makes it fun to drive. The body, wheels, and steering are certainly tuned to make the car have better quick lane changes and cornering than the previous generation, which makes the car more fun to drive. It is probably not going to make the car safer in emergencies or on curves, but it certainly makes it more fun. The smaller steering wheel is also greatly appreciated, which makes the steering quicker and easier. Overall, the car is not only fun but also very easy to drive. As you know, all current TSS 3.0 etc. ADAS and electronic safety features are standard on all new-Prius trims—with the exception of lack of front-traffic collision alert, lane-change assist, and traffic-jam assist on non-plug-in (non-Prime) models—which I find most welcome. One of my fears was not being able to see the new meter-gauge display behind the steering wheel. It turned out that this wasn't a problem, but with the caveat that you need to raise the seat and lower the steering wheel so that you can see it over the steering wheel, which unfortunately somewhat compromises the driving position. The new meter-gauge display is unfortunately tiny—especially for far-sighted people. I call the menus on it a labyrinth—good luck trying to find anything you need on it. I am pretty sure that it will go away in the next generation and will never come back. I only saw the larger multimedia display, which is huge, in fact probably larger than necessary. It is nice and clear, but unfortunately it is very user-unfriendly, as sadly it has been typical for Toyotas. Simple things like changing radio channels are next to impossible to do easily. Perhaps there are easier ways of navigating around it, but it wasn't obvious—hence it was very user-unfriendly. The stock (non-JBL) audio was a total shock. The sound felt like from a 1950s AM radio at times. There are bass, midrange, and treble adjustments. I tried every configuration of them but it didn't help. It was dismal. Nevertheless, it is very, very loud. I also tried the JBL audio—again with every bass/midrange/treble combination—which somewhat improved the sound, but it did not help much. It gets even louder and the bass even gets stronger, but it just does not sound high-fidelity. The doors also shake and rattle a lot with the JBL sound. If I give the stock audio a D−, JBL gets a D+. The JBL on my 2021 Prius Prime is pretty bad as well—perhaps a C—but at least it has some fidelity that makes the songs sound more natural. I think the problem is with the head multimedia unit, and the JBL amplifier and speakers don't help much. Final conclusions Prius is no longer what it used to be, and this is not a good thing. While improved styling, cornering, and acceleration help, these are not needed for most people. What is gone forever (at least until next generation) is the peace, serenity, and practicality of the Prius, which was what made a Prius a Prius. Therefore, other than the Prius badge and the hybrid system, there is no Prius left. If you have a family, this is probably not a suitable car for you. If you value comfortable everyday driving, this is probably not a good car for you. If you want practically, this is probably not a good car for you. If you want a sporty little car, this is probably a good car for you. In any case, don't follow the hype and thoroughly test-drive the car before you buy it. If you have a newer, Gen 4 Prius like me (Prius Prime in my case), it is probably not worth trading in unless something in it strongly appeals to you.