Who knows hybrid’s better than Toyota? Their Prius took the hybrid market by storm when it was introduced several years ago. But not wanting to rest on Prius’ success, Toyota introduced the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. It offers the best of both worlds of electric battery power for up to 25 miles of driving range, and when the battery depletes, the gas engine takes over for 640 total driving miles. In my humble opinion, this is the way to go as opposed to a fully electric car and all its charging inconveniences.
Speaking of charging, and according to Toyota, Prius Prime’s battery can be fully charged in 5 hours, 30 minutes with a 120v outlet. On a 240v line, charging time decreases to about two hours. And since my late father was an electrician, I remember he would say that for a 120v receptacle, its’ best to use a 10-gauge extension cord especially if any extended length is involved.
Prime’s powertrain includes a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine for a total net output of 121-hp and 105 lb/ft of torque. Two electric motors contribute 71-hp to the total. The system couples to a CVT automatic transmission for EPA mileage estimates of 54 gasoline city/highway mpg, or 133 MPGe combined. So powered, acceleration is quick from a standing stop and lacks nothing during highway passing maneuvers.
Prius Prime is offered in base LE, XLE and top-shelf Limited that we tested. That trim level offers Sof-Tex heated front seats, a large, 11.6-inch touchscreen that serves the JBL audio system, navigation, climate selections, apps suite, energy monitor, Apple CarPlay, weather forecast/radar and more.
Atop the dash and not in front of the steering wheel, is the 16×2.5-inch digital gauge cluster that displays a driver information screen, gear selections, power updates and much more. It’s an unusual placement but gets the job done and is easy to read at a glance.
Below the 11.6-unch touchscreen that offers a host of apps, rearview camera,
Interestingly, in Reverse, the car makes a vacuum cleaner sound and produces a constant beep to warn pedestrians the quiet car is backing up.
Also on the pod is a driving mode switch for Normal, Eco and Power. Next to Drive Mode are switches for HV/EV and a separate EV Auto mode. In EV, the car can be driven on electric power only. In HV, it uses the combination of gasoline and battery power and automatically switches to HV when the battery is depleted.
Prius Prime Limited came with Intelligent Parking Assist, wireless phone charger, Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane departure with steering assist, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control and much more.
Prime’s rear seat is comfy and spacious for two adults or three youngsters. Leg and headroom are both generous while wide open doors allow easy ingress/egress.
Back in the trunk area, that’s rated at 19.5 cubic feet, it measures 29 inches deep, 41 wide and 21 high. Flip the 60/40 rear seatbacks and cargo depth extends to 65 inches.
There is no small item storage beneath the trunk floor as the electric battery is housed there.
Prius Prime rode smoothly and quietly on 15-inch Bridgestone tires that in combination with the suspension system, absorbed road imperfections with ease. It also parked easily with its tight 33.4 foot turning radius that made it a pleasurable car to drive and ride in.
Prius Prime Limited was base priced at $34,000, but after adding special optional color paint ($425), carpeted cargo and floor mats ($259) and delivery ($995), Prime bottom-lined at $35,679.
It comes with a 3 year/36K comprehensive; 5/60K powertrain warranty plus the hybrid battery is warranted for 10 years or 150K miles; hybrid components including the battery/hybrid control modules are covered for 8/100K miles; basic coverage is 36/36K miles (all components); and Toyota Care complimentary maintenance plan is covered for 2/25K miles and includes 24/7 roadside assistance for 2/unlimited miles.
We really liked the Prius Prime and as said, the plug-in hybrid system appears the way to go over a pure electric car. With Toyota’s inherent quality and hybrid experience, Prime is a compelling, comfortable, highly economical sedan.