A new Prius arrives at Toyota dealerships in December and this one comes with a power cord.
The 2017 Prius Prime is Toyota’s all-new plug-in hybrid. It’s based on the fourth-generation Prius and adds a battery pack large enough to allow 25 miles of electric-only driving at speeds of up to 84 mph.
That’s enough to satisfy the daily needs of half of all U.S. drivers, Toyota reckons. And, when the last electron has expended itself, the familiar, two-motor Hybrid Synergy Drive system is ready to step in.
Tops all EPA-rated vehicles
With a fresh tank of gas (regular unleaded) and a fully charged battery, Prime has a 640-mile range. In normal operation, mileage is a sparkling 54 mpg combined/55 city/53 highway. Prime tops all EPA-rated vehicles with an estimated 133 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent).
Its 8.8 kWh battery pack can be fully charged in 5.5 hours using a 120-volt household outlet, or two hours and 10 minutes on a 240-volt circuit.
It would be a mistake to write off the Prime as a hair-shirt eco-mobile, though. In a press preview held outside Santa Barbara, Calif, the Prime proved itself an amiable and comfortable companion in a variety of road conditions.
Done with the dowdy hybrid image
Combatting the dowdy-hybrid image, Toyota wraps the Prime in dramatically drawn sheet metal. Unique-to-the-Prime touches include a “double-wave” rear hatch fashioned of carbon fiber and glass. A futuristic taillight assembly stretches the width of the car before turning back in on itself.
Come up behind one a Prime at night and you’ll feel like you’re trailing an Earth-bound UFO.
Though the Prime is neither quick nor dynamic, its all-independent suspension and responsive steering yield decent handling and a quiet and settled ride.
Its wind-cheating profile (0.25 cd) pairs with noise-reduction measures to create a tranquil cabin. Its liftback configuration and folding rear seats deliver the cargo capacity of a larger car.
Aggressive pricing, abundant features
Pricing for the four-passenger, front-wheel-drive hatchback starts at an aggressive $27,965, including destination. Standard equipment includes heated front seats; power windows with auto up/down; “smart-flow” climate control; a backup camera; and heated power outside mirrors.
The standard Entune multimedia system includes navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free and the comprehensive Entune Apps Suite.
A high-resolution 7-inch touchscreen display is standard; upper trims get an impressive 11.6-inch high-resolution tablet-style display and an expanded suite of apps and features. Capacitive touch switches flank the screen, offering one-touch access to major functions.
Every Prime is also equipped with Toyota’s advance active safety suite, Safety Sense P (TSS-P). TSS-P includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane-departure alert with steering assist, full-speed dynamic cruise control with full-stop technology and automatic high-beam headlights.
Toyota cites range anxiety as a prime reason for its reluctance to develop a battery-only electric vehicle. With its high-capacity battery, power cord and frugal hybrid system, Prius Prime does double-duty, as both an EV for the urban commute and a fit companion for the open road.
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2017 Toyota Prius Prime
Note: We tested a variety of vehicles for this review; gull pricing, with options, was not available at press time.
EPA ratings: 54 combined/55 city/53 highway/133 MPGe
Regular unleaded fuel specified