Despite Toyota being known for manufacturing some of the most reliable and long-lasting vehicles on the market, the Prius gets a really bad rep.
Towing with a Prius was once a laughable consideration and anyone who owns something with more than 4-cylinders is more than happy to mock the Prius. But 2019 changed that.
Toyota’s 4th generation Prius is the first to come with towing capabilities. While you’re not going to be towing a travel trailer with a Prius anytime soon, towing a teardrop camper is well within reason.
The latest generation Toyota Prius is capable of towing roughly 1,598 lbs, which falls under the umbrella of teardrop class campers, most of which are customized standard trailers. If you own a 4th gen Toyota Prius and a 5x8 trailer, feel free to get creative with a teardrop conversion because your Prius can handle it.
Can a Prius tow more than a teardrop camper?
While previous iterations of the Toyota Prius had the same towing capacity as the 4th gen, there was no way to install a towing package on one. At least, you couldn’t install a towing package the traditional way.
With the gen 4 Toyota Prius, you now have that capability. Despite the new Prius’ association with teardrop campers, it can also tow some pop-up camper models as well as small, box campers that would probably be considered teardrop trailers in all but name.
The Prius is also becoming known for being an excellent conversion car, meaning that some people are converting their Prius Hatchbacks into camper vans (more on that below). The actual tow capacity of a Toyota Prius is 1,598 lbs.
Most states have pretty strict laws when it comes to brake controllers. However, the Prius doesn’t meet the typical threshold that requires a brake controller, which is 3,000 lbs. Since a Prius can only tow 1,598 lbs, you shouldn’t have to have one.
Not every state and local municipality is the same, however, so it's always a good idea to check and make sure before you install your hitch and start hauling a teardrop around.
Is there a hitch and wiring harness available for the Toyota Prius?
You will find a hitch and wiring harness for around $80 to $175, depending on the complexity and features. Amazon has a few that may be worth your time, like the Draw-Tite 24847 Class 1 and the Curt 56147 Custom 4-pin.
If you find you need to purchase a brake controller, they are available inside the $200 price range, with cheaper ones that cost around $100.
What campers can the Prius tow?
When it comes to towing campers with a Prius, your best bet is to go with micro campers or teardrops, sometimes considered to be the same. So long as it weighs less than 1,598 lbs, you’re good to go.
These 5 campers can be towed by a Toyota Prius:
1. Timberleaf Pika
The Timberleaf Pika is well within the range of the Toyota Prius at a shade over 1,000lbs. Fortunately, it's 12’ long which makes it the perfect couple’s camper. It also includes all of your basic kitchen camping amenities below a hinged door in the back.
It's large enough to include a double-size mattress, and it makes the perfect camper for solo and couples camping or as a solid and dependable hunting camper during the winter season.
2. Happier Camper HC1
If you’re in the mood for a little more headspace, the Happier Camper HC1 is reminiscent of the old-school Volkswagen vans, only without an engine of its own. It only weighs 1,100lbs, even though it looks heavier.
It also includes an Adaptive Modular Interior, also known as “Adaptiv.” With this feature, you can completely rearrange the interior, so it holds more people or arrange things to better accommodate a solo camping trip. Whatever floats your boat, you can probably get away with it.
3. Camp 365
The Camp 365 is pushing the Prius’ weight limits, however, Camp 365 advertises their latest edition with a Toyota Prius so it can do the job. This camper is an innovative take on the pop-up. It features a wedge-shaped design that folds out into a full, teardrop camper size.
Once you fold it out, it has a height of 7’ inside, which is exceptional for a camper in its class. The most incredible thing about Camp 365 is that it's fully insulated and can sleep up to 6 people.
4. Vintage Overlands
Vintage Overland’s The Tuco is one of the more modestly priced models you can pull with your Prius. Its base price is $18,000, and it can sleep two people. It weighs 1,300lbs, so it's well within the Prius’ range.
The interior is a gorgeous display of what a teardrop is aesthetically capable of. It features a Baltic Birchwood interior finish, so it has a really comfortable vibe when you’re inside. The aluminum outside is perfect for those who hate dealing with corrosion.
It comes with some nice extras too, including a Goal Zero Generator, solar panels, and outside lighting.
We had to throw this one in there because it's ridiculously customizable. Its base weight is 1,000lbs, but the gross weight is capable of reaching 2,000lbs, so you will have to be careful about the overall weight of your add-ons.
This thing comes with its own porta-potty, which isn’t something you find outside of homemade teardrop campers. It has multiple power generation choices to choose from, as well as a ton of optional extras that it is capable of supporting.
Little Guy Trailers manufactured the Meerkat for room add-ons. So what you see is not necessarily what you get. You can add on aside room. For your money, you also get a camp stove, closet, and sink.
Toyota Prius camper conversion
One of the more popular innovations with the Prius is a full camper conversion. It looks a little wild and definitely a little weird, but it's a fantastic idea. The 2022 Toyota Prius Hatchback is the best model for a camper van conversion.
The Prius is a surprisingly good choice for a conversion for a very simple reason—the climate control system. The Prius will run everything inside of the camper conversion, purely on the battery until it is nearly drained.
Then the Prius will automatically crank up, run the engine until the battery is fully charged again, and cut off the engine, returning power to the battery only. The best part is, that you don’t have to tow anything or purchase a hitch and wiring harness.
You will have to pay an exorbitant cost. As awesome as the camper van conversion kit is, the standard kit will cost nearly $50,000, including the Prius. For that kind of money, you can purchase a newer model RV or a really nice camper.
If you already own a Prius and want the conversion done, it will cost $20,000. It's a lot like the Honda Element Camper Kit in that you can purchase the car with the conversion already completed or have it done with a Honda Element you already own.
Of course, you can always do your own conversion. Here’s an example of a converted Kia Soul. There are some obvious size and dimensional challenges but doing a conversion on your own requires a level of creativity.
Which Toyota Prius years can tow small campers?
Technically, every Toyota Prius from 2015 to the present can tow the same weight of 1,598lbs. However, only 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 Prius models are designed to accommodate a hitch.
Going back to a Prius year before 2019 would require a substantial modification in the back to design and install a hitch modification. Although those years are capable of towing what the gen 4 Prius can tow, Toyota never intended for them to tow anything.
Up until the 2019 Prius, Toyota advised Prius owners to not modify and install a hitch on the Toyota Prius, as it wasn’t designed for towing anything. The pressure for Toyota to allow for a towing capability on the Prius finally decided the manufacturers to add it with the introduction of the gen 4 models in 2019.
If you have a gen 3 Prius or earlier, you should exercise caution if you are considering making the Prius ready for towing. While they are capable, there are subtle differences between the Toyota Prius of 2018 and the 2019 Prius.
Regardless of what year Prius you own, you shouldn’t tow anything that approaches the Prius’ 1,598lb limit. It's not like the Prius is a powerhouse vehicle and if you have something back there that weighs 1,550lbs, the Prius may experience a lot of problems on inclines.
The Toyota Prius, especially the gen 4, is perfectly capable of towing a camper, so long as you don’t mind sticking with very small teardrop campers, pop-ups, and other camper types that weigh less than 1,598lbs.
Fortunately, the world of micro-campers is pretty substantial, and you don’t necessarily have to settle for cramped and tiny. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the innovations in micro-campers and teardrops.