The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid is the most substantial electric vehicle offering from the company to date, which isn’t saying much of course, but the model is a pretty interesting one even if many Toyota enthusiasts had hoped for more.
The main point of contention is the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model’s relatively limited all-electric range of only ~25 miles per full charge (achieved with a 8.8 kilowatt-hour/kWh lithium-ion battery pack). Well, another main point of contention, for some, is also the physical design/appearance of the model.
The model’s other specs are pretty good though — with the model even achieving the highest EPA-estimated miles per gallon equivalent rating in the industry to date, 133 MPGe. The fuel economy rating for the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime in hybrid mode is even 55 city/53 highway/54 combined MPG, according to the EPA. Also notable is that the total drive range is estimated by the EPA to be 640 miles.
A recent press release provides some more information worth highlighting: “Its 0.25 coefficient of drag is among the lowest for current production sedans. Automatic grille shutters help reduce drag by closing when airflow to the radiator is not needed. … For the first time in a Toyota hybrid, the system uses a ‘dual motor drive.’ Toyota didn’t add another motor, however. Rather, a new one-way clutch engages both the generator (MG1) and electric drive motor (MG2) for drive force, the first time MG1 has been used for that purpose. … Not to be overshadowed by all the electrical action, the Prius Prime’s gasoline engine also plays a starring role in that efficiency. The 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, 4-cylinder engine, used in all 2017 Prius liftback models, expects a groundbreaking 40%-plus thermal efficiency. Most modern automobile engines reach about 25–30%.”
If you’re more interested in the interior tech of the Prime, or the safety features, here’s some more information on that as well: “Prius Prime adds even more premium touches and exclusive tech features compared to the all-new Prius liftback, including its available vertically oriented 11.6-inch HD multimedia screen and an available full color head-up display. … Notably, the Prius Prime comes standard with more active safety features of any hybrid in its class. Among the many safety features is standard Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). This multi-feature advanced active safety suite bundles the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Automatic Braking; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with full stop technology and Automatic High Beams. The Prius Prime Advanced model also comes with standard Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. … On cold days, a battery warmer activates at the end of a charge to keep the battery temperature above 32 F, ensuring that it can deliver optimal EV performance and range when the vehicle is started.”
Pricing information for the 2017 Prius Prime PHEV begins at $27,100 (Prime Plus) and goes as high as $33,100 (Prime Advanced). These figures don’t included the delivery, processing, and handling fee.
Considering that Tesla Model 3 deliveries will be beginning just a year or so from now, and Chevy Bolt deliveries will be beginning in just a few months, I have to wonder how many electric vehicle buyers will actually choose to go with the Prius Prime PHEV.
Those who need a PHEV rather than an all-electric (regular long distance, rural travel, etc) of course also have the option of the second-generation Chevy Volt, which has a much higher all-electric range. Who will end up buying the Prius Prime? Just Toyota loyalists and enthusiasts?