It began as a meager, prosy little apparatus and grew into zero reduction than a rolling business label that explained a corporate philosophy. The Toyota Prius hybrid explains what Toyota thinks of itself, the automobile business, and multitude distant better than many carmakers’ products over the past decade. And the Prius has been an huge hit, legitimately apropos that stale term in marketing: a brand.
Realistically, plug-in variety are nonetheless another transitory moment on the trail to full electrics, just as variety have been. Most Americans drive no some-more than 30 miles (48.2km) per day, so a plug-in hybrid that exceeds that figure with a arguable aegis will work better for the immeasurable infancy of selling intenders. The gas engine becomes an on-board, real-time insurance policy against operation anxiety.
Toyota has stretched the Prius choice to embody incomparable cars, smaller cars, and, commencement last year, the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid edition. The Prime wears a rather opposite nose and tail from the unchanging Prius, but it’s still high-hipped, angular, and—as we wrote of the unchanging Prius in 2016—beats the nauseous drum with vigor. The upside, though, is glorious prominence outward, solely to the rear. A bar interrupting the back potion blocks prophesy to following traffic.
The new Prius interior mostly carries over to the Prime, mixing white plastic of a comparatively high peculiarity with some-more required finishes that are bearable but not remarkable. Our Prime Advanced indication also comes with a plumb oriented, 11.6-inch tablet-type infotainment screen in the demeanour of a Tesla.
The radical lurch places other gauges and readouts in the core of the car, as on the prior-generation Prius, which, for the newcomer, takes some getting used to. Reading the speedometer means averting your concentration serve from the core of the highway maturation before you than if it were in the same longitude as approaching traffic.
However, the whole indicate of a plug-in hybrid like the Prime is that it can work as a pseudo-electric maybe 95 percent of the time with adequate operation for a day’s worth of travelling or selling but having to recharge. Some owners of plug-in variety report going for months but having to fuel up, relying heavily on electric operation, as the class was engineered to do.
Headline stats demeanour good, but it’s not all gravy
The Prime is positively efficient, carrying an EPA rating of 133mpg-e, where the Chevrolet Volt posts a rating of 106mpg-e and a total, entirely charged operation of only 420 miles (696km) contra the Prime’s 640 miles (1,030km). And with a 20-year-long story of hybrids, you competence figure the new Prime corners its market. But hold your electric horses there.
With just 25 miles (40km) of pure-electric operation from its 8.8kWh battery container before the 1.8L gas engine interjects, the Prime is good bashful of the mark. The Chevy Volt’s 53 miles (85km) from an 18.4kWh battery out-ranges the Prius Prime in a poignant way. Also, the Prime’s complicated battery adds 300 pounds (136kg) to the Prius and robs 5 cubic feet (142L) of load space. The Prime also provides seating for 4 to the Volt’s 5 seats. So, the sum sum advantage to the Prime over the normal Prius is rather meager. The attention has also not nonetheless codified the change of cold weather on battery range, but anecdotes advise a cutting effect. The Prime encroaches on that normal daily figure too closely for comfort with scarcely no buffer.
The Volt is also quicker with its total 149hp (111kW) contra 121hp (90kW), concealment a 0-60 time of 7.6 seconds on electricity alone. Meanwhile, the Prime takes 12.2 seconds but the gas engine banishment (those urge to 7.4 and 10.2 respectively, with the explosion engine helping). The Prime does hit 54 total mpg to the Volt’s total 45mpg, once the battery is depleted.
Generally speaking, the Prius Prime drives like a normal Prius, which is a sincerely good thing for the latest era of the hybrid pioneer. It corners well, nonetheless not like a sports sedan. It’s flattering comfortable, and, even nonetheless not accurately quick, stifle response is respectable. From a passed stop, it hits 30mph in brief order, nonetheless it starts to tumble down at aloft speeds, even nonetheless it achieved 75mph on electricity alone.
We can’t help thinking, however, that with the gasoline engine on, the Prime becomes a normal Prius, just 300 pounds heavier. We covered 251 miles on the test track with about a entertain of it over the highway and the rest sundry suburban driving. We averaged 24.6 miles of pristine electric range, where the EPA’s central guess is 25 miles; flattering much a wash. We charged the Prime using its 110-volt hookup any night and whenever parked at home, and the altogether normal fuel economy for the whole test was 78.3mpg, considerably better than the EPA’s total guess of 54mpg.
In unsentimental terms, people are not deliberation the specific fuel saved by Priuses or Volts, but rather, the leisure from having to stop for gas or charging over the prolonged haul. It does start at about $6,000 reduction than the Volt ($28,000 contra $34,000), but that disproportion is negated rather by the $4,500 sovereign taxation credit contra the Volt’s $7,500, so the genuine disproportion in cost, exclusive options, is only $3,000.
In this regard, the Prius Prime does not transport well. Removing the pattern quandary, if it only had a better, some-more efficient, energy-dense battery to offer larger range, this story would be utterly different.
Listing picture by Jim Resnick