2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plug-In Hybrid: Bigger Battery, More Fuel-Efficient Than Outgoing Prius Model

Apr 21, 2017 11:40 AM EDT | Andrew Davis

The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is the product of the automaker's refinement of its signature hybrid vehicle. This all-new plug-in hybrid has replaced its predecessor and is more fuel-efficient, has a longer range, and features some new tech, although with a few non-desirable stuff to go along with all that goodness.

The Prius Prime has been outfitted with an 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery, which is twice as big as that in outgoing Prius Plug-in since this PHEV sits atop of the Prius family. With a larger battery, Toyota claims that the Prius Prime has a total range of over 600 miles, 25 miles in EV mode alone.

It has a top speed of 84 mph in EV mode. And a single charge is completed around 2 hours using a 240-volt outlet or 5.5 hours with a standard one.

Now, since this is a plug-in hybrid, its battery pack is paired with a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine delivering 95 horses and 105 lb-ft of torque. Adding the 71 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque to this mix allows a combined peak system power of 121 horses.

Driving-wise, in EV mode, the Prius Prime has a strong acceleration and its throttle is quite responsive thanks to its EV torque. And with only a push of a button, switching between electric, hybrid, or automatic driving mode is as easy as pie.

However, using the gasoline-electric hybrid mode, the Prius Prime feels a bit heavier. This is probably because of the 300-lb addition of the battery despite using lightweight composites for its construction.

Also, to make room for a bigger battery, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime can only sit 4 people. And it is only available in hatchback form. But those active grille shutters for improve aerodynamics make up for the aesthetic look.

The Prius Prime comes with standard features as LED headlights and taillights, automatic climate control, and heated front seats. But the biggest change for this PHEV is in its dashboard.

Mounted vertically in the center is an 11-inch touchscreen. One thing to note about this is that it is washed out by the glare during daytime and a too bright screen at night despite opting for the darkest setting. This is quite a distraction when driving.

Despite all that, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime's has won the highest mark awarded by IIHS for the PHEV's standard forward collision warning system. It also has won the recent 2017 World Green Car Award at the 2017 New York International Auto Show.

Overall, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime has better ride quality and is gaining popularity, just right next to the Chevrolet Volt. The entry trim level starts at $27,100 and goes up to $33,100 for the Advanced model.

The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime does indeed sit atop the Prius family as a flexible and fuel-efficient PHEV. It is worthy enough to go against key competitors such as the Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, and Ford C-Max Energi.

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