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2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plus Plug-in Hybrid Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig  
Senior Editor And Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plus

ENGINE: 1.8-liter I-4

TRANSMISSION: Hybrid Synergy Drive system

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 95 hp @ 5,000 rpm/105 lb.-ft. @ 3,600 rpm

WHEELBASE: 106.3 in.

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 182.9 x 69.3 x 57.9 in.

TIRES: P195/65R15

CARGO CAPACITY: 19.0 cu. ft.

ECONOMY: 133 eMPG/54 gasoline MPG/55.5 mpg test

FUEL TANK: 11.3 gal.

CURB WEIGHT: 3,375 lbs  #/HP: 35.5

TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended

COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Volt/Bolt, Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf

STICKER: $27,966 (includes $865 delivery, no options are available)

BOTTOM LINE: While the Prius Prime Plus is not as well-equipped as the cars I had the opportunity to drive in California, it is still a very good plug-in hybrid.              

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Toyota offers several versions of its Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. They all have essentially the same performance and economy; the difference is in the details. The Prius Prime Plus is less fully equipped than versions of the Prius Prime I drove earlier, but unless you knew there were different versions, you wouldn’t miss anything.            

First, a quick definition. A plug-in hybrid, to gain maximum economy, should be plugged in regularly. Charging is more efficient with a 220-volt connection, but you can fully charge the Prius Prime overnight using 110-volts. For example, when fully charged, the Prius Prime can deliver approximately 25 miles of pure electric driving. Granted, this isn’t a Tesla, with its claims of more than 200 miles per charge, but it does a very good job. We drove the Prius Prime primarily around town, with trips of 10 miles or less one way maximum. After we recharged at night, it was ready to go again. In fact, we used no gasoline during our test.             

However, if we did need to go further than 25 miles, the Prius Prime would seamlessly switch over to gasoline mode and operate like the Prius we have all grown to know and remember. In this sense, it’s more like the Chevrolet Volt.            

The Prius Prime has its share of likes and dislikes.             

Like: Styling is very aggressive with a Lexus-stye grille and huge simulated air scoops. The coefficient of drag approaches .25, something that would be unheard of years ago. The “air scoop” theme is repeated in the rear with styling that is unique to the Prius Prime. In fact, a neighbor drove by one day with the identical car that stood out because of the styling.            

Dislike: The Prime’s while interior dash is really very light gray, but the center console looks like cheap white hard plastic. This hard plastic theme extends to the steering wheel and rear cupholders. Also, the light gray upholstery looks as if it could get dirty fast.            

Like: The Prius Prime employs a simple shifter, with the shifter mounted on the dash. Move it to the left and up for reverse, down for drive. There is a separate “park” button.            

Dislike: The digital speedometer is located at eye level (good) in a central pod at the top of the dash. With a big white blank space in front of the driver, there could be a speedometer there as well. The instrument pod includes the odometer, economy gauge, compass, gear indicator, and digital clock.            

Like: The smaller infotainment screen in the Plus is more conventional than the larger screen in the upscale versions.            

Ride quality is very good. It is smooth handling and offers a comfortable ride. Since we drove primarily in electric mode, the ride is quiet with minimal tire noise. However, there is little engine noise even when driving in gasoline mode. Acceleration is good.            

Front seats are comfortable and offer good side support. The center console/arm rest only opens from the driver’s side, though. There’s a large (white plastic) cubby ahead of the cupholders that is convenient for holding keys.            

Safety equipment includes a lane departure warning, and automatic cruise control. We didn’t see any blind spot monitor, although vision to all sides is good.             

The two rear seats are comfortable with a useful console. Rear passengers have good headroom.            

The cargo area seems small due to the batteries underneath.               

Admittedly, we “cheated” with the Prius Prime Plus, driving as much as we could in full electric mode. Our overall fuel economy for the test was 55.5 mpg, and would have been better if the car had been fully charged upon delivery. I’m not complaining, though. The Prius Prime would function well as a mid-size for a small family.  

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate  

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