What Is It?
The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime takes the plug-in hybrid concept a step closer to challenging conventional economy cars, adding styling, power and technology well beyond any Prius before it. With a mileage rating of 120 miles per gallon gasoline-equivalent, the Prime is expected to be the most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid on the planet. Advancements in battery and charging times allow the Prime to be charged using a standard household outlet and plug, and its pure electric cruising range has been extended over last year’s plug-in hybrid model, estimated at 22 miles.
To enhance performance, the Prius Prime’s dual-electric motors operate together in pure electric mode, offering faster acceleration times and speeds up to 84 miles per hour. When not in electric mode, the Prius Prime’s miserly 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine and 11.3-gallon fuel tank permit the Prime to travel up to 600 miles before needing to refuel.
Inside, the Prius Prime delivers such premium amenities as standard heated front seats and an available JBL audio system. The focal point is an enormous 11.6-inch multimedia touchscreen (think Tesla Model S) that operates using simple touch and swipe gestures. A full color head-up display is optional. On the safety front, the Prius Prime features eight airbags and can be equipped with Toyota’s Safety Sense suite, which offers pre-collision warning with autonomous braking, pedestrian detection, radar-guided cruise control, lane-departure warning and automatic high beams.
Unlike some plug-in hybrids, the Prius Prime will be offered for sale in all 50 states.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but we’d guess that the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime needs to be competitive with other plug-ins, so you can look for it to be in the low to mid-$30,000 range.
When Can You Get It?
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
Those who are looking for the most fuel-efficient and flexible green car will want to get a plug-in hybrid. The former Prius plug-in wasn’t all that exciting, but the new Prime remedies that problem with racy styling, a tech-rich interior and better performance behind the wheel. While its range isn’t as good as the Chevy Volt, it is better than the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Chevrolet Volt — The Volt offers sleek styling, plenty of high-tech features and nearly double the electric range of the Prime.
2016 Ford C-MAX Energi — While the C-MAX can’t match the Prime for range, it does offer a stylish alternative with a large cabin, tall ride height and sporty handling.
2016 BMW i3 — The i3 is more of a pure electric car with a gasoline engine as backup. Its range of nearly 80 miles beats the Prime, although its total range of 160 miles limits its usefulness outside the city.
2017 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid — The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid offers more room and a softer ride, but its range isn’t as good as the Prime, and it lacks the high-tech interior.
Used Ford Fusion Energi — You’ll get decent range and mileage in a larger car with a more luxurious interior and sport-sedan ride and handling.