2018 Toyota Prius Prime
The Toyota Prius Prime is a variant of the popular and proven Prius with a larger battery pack that provides an extended electric-only driving capacity. For the first time ever, it stands out from the regular hybrid model with a unique design.
The Prime receives an 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack which allows for better fuel economy and greater electric range. According to Toyota, it can cover up to 25 miles on battery power alone at speeds of up to 84 mph. Fuel economy checks in at 55 mpg in the city, 53 mpg on the highway, and 54 in a combined cycle. In EV mode, it returns 133 MPGe.
It takes a little over two hours to charge the battery pack when using a 240-volt outlet. Using a standard 120-volt plug bumps the time needed for a full charge to about five and a half hours.
The gasoline side of the powertrain is standard Prius fare. The Prime uses a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder that makes 95 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 105 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. It sends its power to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Like other Prius models, the Prime delivers a comfortable ride, safe handling, and a versatile hatchback body that provides 19.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Passengers are treated to ample room in both rows, but note the Prime is strictly a four-seater.
The dashboard is dominated by a large vertical touch screen, a setup similar to the one found in Teslas and modern Volvos. Eliminating most buttons gives the Prius' dashboard a clean, uncluttered look, while vertical lines emphasize the cabin's width. Even the base Prime comes standard with navigation, but the model isn't compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Standard and optional features
The Prius Prime is offered in three trim levels named Plus, Premium, and Advanced, respectively.
Plus models come standard with auto-off headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, active grille shutters, heated and power-adjustable mirrors, 15-inch alloy wheels, a configurable 4.2-inch screen in the instrument cluster, Bluetooth connectivity, A/C, cloth upholstery, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, keyless entry, a push-button ignition, a seven-inch touch screen, navigation, and a six-speaker stereo. A tire repair kit replaces the spare.
The Premium adds a wireless phone charger, keyless entry on three doors instead of just one, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, an 11.6-inch touch screen, and an upgraded navigation system that provides a list of the nearest charging stations.
Finally, the Advanced model benefits from LED fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, a remote-controlled A/C system, a color head-up display, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a blind spot monitoring system, park assist, and an upgraded JLB sound system.
There are no factory options or option packages for the Prius Prime.
The list of safety features includes front, side, and curtain airbags, plus a knee airbag for the driver. There's also a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, a lane departure warning system with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, stability control, traction control, and a rear-view camera.
The Prius Prime Advanced packs a three-year subscription to Toyota Safety Connect, which bundles emergency assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance, and automatic collision notification. Buyers will need to pay a subscription after the three-year trial ends.
The hybrid segment has grown exponentially since the original Toyota Prius made its debut in Japan 20 years ago. Today, buyers looking for an efficient, practical hatchback that can drive on electricity alone can also look at the Chevrolet Volt and the Hyundai Ioniq, which are both five-seaters.
Other options include the plug-in variants of the Hyundai Sonata and the Honda Accord, and the Kia Niro.