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2017 Toyota Prius Prime: What Fuel Economy Does It Really Get?

If you’re looking for information on a newer Toyota Prius Prime, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Toyota Prius Prime Review

When you take into account plug-in hybrid tax credits, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime can actually be less expensive than the conventional Prius hybrid model while getting substantially better fuel economy. Well, at least according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates.

I wanted to see just what kind of fuel economy you can get with the plug-in hybrid Prius, so I put it to the test for a week of mixed driving in the Pacific Northwest. There was city and suburban driving in Portland, Oregon, rural highways in the nearby Willamette Valley, and then a three-hour road trip on Interstate 5 to Seattle. All told, it was 368 miles.

Since this is a plug-in hybrid, however, one really must plug it in to get the best possible fuel economy. Luckily, an increasing number of hotels are providing guests with access to electric vehicle charging stations and indeed all three I stayed in had chargers, despite being in varying locations and at varying price points. Better still, I didn’t have to pay a cent at any of them, although that probably depends on the particular hotel and/or parking lot. See the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime models for sale near you

All told, I averaged 21.7 miles of all-electric range. That compares to the EPA’s estimated range of 25 miles, which, to be fair, I did manage to beat with 25.5 miles during the Interstate journey. Curiously, my other lengthier range of 24.2 was achieved on the rural highway portion. Both run counter to the generally held thought that hybrids and electric vehicles run better in the city.

On the other hand, as I was driving shorter daily distances in the city, more of my actual driving was done using electricity only. This mimics what the typical driver would experience during their daily routine of commuting and errands. And indeed, prior to the Interstate portion of the journey that amassed most of my total miles, the car’s trip computer was showing average fuel economy of between 110 and 132 mpg. The EPA just so happens to rate the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime at 133 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).

Now, my final, actually calculated total fuel economy for the week was 82.3 mpg — that’s quite obviously much better than the EPA’s combined estimate of 54 mpg. Plus, despite spending a week driving around one city and on the Interstate to another, I only put in 4.48 gallons of 87 octane and spent about $13.

So yes, that’s very impressive. You certainly couldn’t do that in a regular Prius.

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