Given the recent launch of an all-new Toyota Prius, this one built on an entirely new platform, the followup of a plug-in version should come as no surprise. Yet the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime, launched at the New York Auto Show, doubles the electric range of its predecessor, and claims an efficiency figure of 120 miles-per-gallon -equivalent (MPGe).
For power, Toyota augments the new Prius Prime's 1.8-liter gasoline engine with an electric drive motor and a large, 8.8 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack. Charge up the battery and the car can go 22 miles just under electric power, at speeds up to 84 mph, enough for a typical commute, at least one way.
Once the electric range runs out, the Prius Prime reverts to hybrid operation, saving up electricity during deceleration and reusing it to help the engine drive the car.
As with its unpluggable counterpart, the Prius Prime offers seating for five and a hatchback for cargo, making for plenty of usable space. The new Prius showed much improved driving dynamics during a press event last year, although the weight of the larger battery for the Prius Prime will certainly have an impact on ride quality and handling.
In a press release, Toyota points out that the Prius Prime features an 11.6-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, substantially bigger than that in the regular Prius hybrid.
LED headlights come standard, helping to preserve its electric range. On the option list will be Toyota's new suite of safety systems, which include pedestrian detection with automatic braking and adaptive cruise control.
Where the former Prius Plug-in felt like something of an afterthought, technology not necessarily baked into the previous Prius hybrid on which it was based, the Prius Prime should be more fully realized, especially as it faces competition from the Ford Fusion Energi and Chevrolet Volt.