2022 Toyota Prius Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons.
Since its inception, the Toyota Prius has served as a shining example of what hybrid technology can do. Now capable of getting over 50 miles per gallon, the 2022 Toyota Prius offers up a quiet and refined interior that remains muted even when the gasoline engine is engaged. Maneuvering around town is easy enough thanks to the Prius' size and excellent outward visibility. You can even get all-wheel drive (AWD) equipped if you want it.
An overhauled Prius is probably somewhere in the near future, considering the age of the current generation (the fourth generation, which was introduced in 2016). But this year is not that year. You still have to put up with the awkwardly offset display panel, which sits slightly outside the driver's direct line of view. Also, the shaky ride quality and sluggish acceleration are less than stellar. Even the standard infotainment system feels outdated.
That being said, the Prius offers five trim levels to choose from, each of which adds some helpful features and catchy design elements. And, if you're wondering what happened to the 2020 Edition trim level, it was changed to the Nightshade Edition. Which trim you get will depend on which niceties and features you feel you need the most.
To help you make that decision, let's compare the trim levels on the 2022 Toyota Prius: the L Eco, LE, XLE, Nightshade Edition, and the Limited.
Compare the L Eco vs LE. What is the difference?
Starting the 2022 Toyota Prius line-up off is the base trim, known as the L Eco. It gets an estimated 56 mpg combined (from 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway). All vehicles in the line come with a no-cost maintenance plan and 24-hour road assistance as a nice bonus - which is definitely worth noting.
Let's compare the L Eco to the second trim level in the line-up, the LE. The LE gets a combined 52 mpg on the front-wheel drive (FWD) model and 49 mpg on the AWD-e version. On the outside, they look fairly similar. Both come with bi-LED projector low- and high-beam headlights that have an integrated auto-off feature. Auto-on/off comes on the LED daytime running lights, and there are LED clearance lights, taillights, and stop lights in the rear. You will also see an active shutter grille, folding and heated power side mirrors, color-keyed door handles on the outside, a color-keyed fin-style antenna mounted onto the roof, and variable intermittent windshield wipers that are washer-linked. Additionally, both trim levels ride atop 15-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels outfitted with full wheel covers.
The interiors of both trim levels are also fairly similar. The L Eco and LE both feature the smart-flow climate control system and customizable screens on the 4.2-inch color dual Multi-Information Display (MID). While the L Eco is outfitted with standard fabric-trimmed front seats (with a 6-way adjustable driver's seat and 4-way adjustable front passenger seat), the LE gets upgraded to seats with extended seatback pockets. The 60/40-split folding rear seat has a center armrest that you can fold down and use.
Other standard features inside of the cabin include dynamic radar cruise control (that functions at full-speed), a multi-functional tilting and telescoping steering wheel, digital instrumentation, chrome accents on the upper door trim, and soft-touch door armrest spots with inner door handles that are chrome-accented. Along with push button start, the driver's door has a Smart Key System. There are auto-up/down power windows, power door locks, an armrest covering the storage bin on the matte black center console, a single 12V auxiliary power outlet up front, illuminated vanity mirrors on the extendable sun visors, a cargo area light, rear dome light, and two cup holders and two beverage holders up front and two of each in the rear. To this, the LE adds just a cargo area tonneau cover.
As far as the infotainment setup goes, you get the same thing in both vehicles: the Audio Plus 7-inch touchscreen display along with a six speaker sound system. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa are all connectable from your smartphone. SiriusXM comes with a 3-month Platinum Plan trial subscription. A one-year trial subscription to Connected Services 180 Safety Connect is standard, and Service Connect comes with a lengthy 10-year trial. Wi-Fi hot-spot connectivity is equipped so that you can use up to 2 GB within a three-month trial period.
Toyota bundles together a pretty impressive list of standard driver aids. Along with a standard blind spot monitoring system inclusive of rear cross-traffic alert (which doesn't come standard on some rivals' base trims), Toyota gives the Prius a lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist (which recognizes road signs and alerts you to them), automatic high beams, and a pre-collision system that features pedestrian detection. With the Star Safety System, you get enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, an anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and Smart Stop technology. A rear-seat reminder is standard, as are a tire pressure monitoring system, vehicle proximity notification system, Safety Connect, intelligent park assist, a rear-view camera, hill start assist, and an engine immobilizer.
The Prius is powered by a hybrid system with a net power of 121 hp. The gas engine is a 1.8-L 4-cylinder model, and it is paired with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor and lithium ion battery. An electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) directs power to the front wheels (or all four wheels if you select AWD). The suspension is a Independent MacPherson front strut set-up with stabilizer bars paired with a rear multi-link suspension with its own stabilizer bars. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion electric power steering and power-assisted front ventilated disc brakes plus solid rear disc brakes with built-in regenerative braking and the Star Safety System round out the list of mechanical specs for both vehicles.
Compare the LE vs XLE Trims. What is the difference?
The next model up in the line is the XLE. It starts off by making a few upgrades and alterations to the vehicle's exterior. It comes with integrated fog lights and LED accent lights, plus you can opt for an adaptive front lighting system with auto-leveling headlights as part of the Advanced Technology package - exclusive to the XLE trim. That package also includes a power tilting and sliding moonroof with a sliding sunshade. Titanium-finished wheel inserts come with the upgraded 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels. Also, the windshield wipers gain rain-sensing technology.
Inside, the seats get massively upgraded to SofTex trim with heated front seats that include the extended seatback pockets. You get 8-way power-adjustability on the driver's seat (which includes power lumbar support) and 4-way adjustability on the front passenger's seat. SofTex is also added to the steering wheel and door armrest area. Remote illuminated entry comes with the push button start and Smart Key (which comes on three of the doors). An auto-dimming rear-view mirror has HomeLink integrated into it. Also, the center console gets done in semi-gloss black. Wireless charging for smartphones is added into the design as well.
If you opt for the Premium Convenience package (which only comes on the Prius XLE and Limited), you get sized down to 15-inch wheels and get a sunroof equipped.
Compare the XLE vs Nightshade Edition. What is the difference?
The Nightshade Edition is all about painting it black. On the outside, you will see black door handles, a black roof-mounted shark-fin antenna, black grade and model badging, black side mirror caps, black accents on the headlights, 5-spoke black painted alloy on the 15-inch wheels, and black bezels on the LED accent lights. No wonder they call it the Nightshade Edition, right?
Inside is more of the same. Black, black, black galore. The SofTex seats are of course done in black. But that is about the extent of the differences between the Nightshade Edition and XLE. Just think of it as the blacked-out version of the XLE.
Compare the Nightshade Edition vs Limited Trims. What is the difference?
If you want a bigger upgrade, the line-topping Limited trim level might be worth checking out. It adds quite a few things that the four lower trim levels do not have and, for the most part, justifies the cost of the upgrade.
The Premium Convenience package is available on this trim level, so you can go down to the 15-inch wheels if you prefer them over the 17-inch wheels with their titanium inserts. The adaptive front headlight system is standard, plus you get a color-keyed roof-mounted shark-fin antenna.
Inside of the cabin, you will see more upgrades. The Limited has the same seats as the XLE, but it gets upgraded to a premium sound system with integrated navigation and 11.6-inch JBL touchscreen with a split-screen display. There are 10 JBL speakers with an included amplifier, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity, and a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM. A color head-up display gets added on as standard equipment as well.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.
Which Trim to Choose?
The 2022 Toyota Prius line-up has a little something for everyone. Want to keep it super straightforward and fuel-efficient? Go for the base L Eco trim. For an entry-level trim, it is actually quite well-equipped with standard features. It is hard to complain about the lengthy list of standard driver aids, and the infotainment system - though looking fairly dated - is still quite functional.
The Nightshade Edition definitely looks cool and is ideal for anyone who is obsessed with everything being black. However, it is only an aesthetically modified version of the XLE. And it is the mid-tier XLE trim that stands out above the rest. It might not have the fuel efficiency of the L Eco or the few cool extra features on the Limited, but the XLE provides a good balance. The imitation SofTex leather really goes a long way in making the cabin look and feel more expensive than it is. Also, the auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink and the heated front seats kick things up a notch in terms of creature comforts.
The LE does not offer too many upgrades over the L Eco to make it worth the cost jump and fuel efficiency drop. Nor does the Limited really do enough to make it an attractive buy. While the LE tends to be a popular choice because of the price and a few extra creature comforts, the few extra grand for the XLE is worth shelling out. You can select from FWD or AWD, but I highly recommend getting AWD if you live in a climate where hazardous weather often creates slick road surfaces. Otherwise, the XLE with front-wheel drive should suit the average buyer just fine.
• 2021 Toyota Prius Trime Levels