The new Prius Prime is, in a lot of ways worse at being a car than the standard Prius Liftback.
Then again, it's also a lot better at being a Prius.
Okay, so maybe that didn't make a lot of sense coming out of my mouth, let me explain.
Now the prime is the plug in version of Toyota Signature Prius hybrid which means it has the ability to plug itself in and recharge, and increase electric capacity.
However the hardware to do so has to go somewhere so Toyota just banged a bunch of extra batteries in the truck That means that the Prime has significantly less space for your stuff than the standard Prius.
Space is at a premium here.
Especially if you want to use the privacy shield to hide your stuff from the bad guys.
Now on the road, the Prime feels, well, like what it is.
A heavier version of Toyota's Prius.
Instead of using lightweight composites in some of the body panels, those extra batteries just add a whole lot of extra weight To the equation around 300 pounds to the bottom line, most of virtual find that behind and above the real is not a great place for it.
And you could really feel the weight when you're in the corner thanks a lot to the pre-assistor it really over boost Its steering and Lucy goosey handling.
You can also feel the weight when you are doing things like accelerating up a hill or trying to maintain a freeway speed.
Generally speaking the gasoline portion of this hybrid powertrain really just sorta feels like it is always working harder That it needs to.
Now, if you never plug this thing in, just drive it around like a regular Prius, the 121 horsepower hybrid powertrain will return 54 miles per gallon combined.
Though, if you bought a Prius plugin and you never plug it in, well, you're kinda doing it wrong.
A recharge takes around two hours at level two speeds and will net you about 25 mile of gasoline free, fully electric motoring.
It'll also pull the EPA's estimate up to 133 miles per gallon equivalent.
Now I've been driving around 60 miles a day, I've been charging almost daily Italy and I'm averaging between 80 and 90 miles per gallon.
That's not bad at all, though with regular recharges or a shorter commute that's less highway-focused, that can definitely do a whole lot better.
Now the efficiency is great.
But the thing that I really like about plugging hybrid like the Prime Here is the flexibility that they give you over your energy, so for example, I don't need to use my 25 miles of electric range at the beginning of the trip.
If I've got a long highway leg, I can push a button and force Into hybrid operation and save my electric range for the more densely packed city area at the end of the trip where it'll make a bigger impact on the fuel economy.
Or, I can just let the computer figure it all out.
It's as complex or as simple as I need it to be.
Now while we're here we have to talk about the tech which is kind of a mess.
Toyota's outfitted the Prime with this large.
Touchscreen system, which is flashy but also kinda terrible.
I think it's the worst part of driving the Prime this week.
Physically the screen tends to get glare and washes out in the sunlight, so you got.
Got this huge screen, and half the time you can't see anything on it.
Plus the interface is just doing a whole lot of stuff.
you've got this big map that also serves as the background of the interface, and these widgets that come sliding in from the bottom and the sides depending on which function you're using.
Overall I just feel like they're There's too much going on here.
Especially when you're in the city and the streets are close together.
That map adds a whole lot of visual noise to the interface.
And it can be really hard to even just find your car on the map because its position moves around depending on which functions you're currently displaying.
It's not that I don't like vertical screens because Volvo does a really good job with its Sensus System which also uses a similar configuration.
But it's just better designed.
And easier to use.
We'll talk more about it in a separate video.
Now the driver seat is not a whole lot better.
This car has a huge electronic nanny that's always beeping at me for something.
There's a car in my blind spot.
Beep If I get too close to the markers on the side of the road I get a beep, beep, beep.
If I'm parking and I get too close to a bush, beep.
And then if a car comes by while I'm doing it, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.
If I'm in the middle of a parking lot, by myself, and I put this car into reverse, it just starts going beep, beep, beep.
Look, Toyota, I know that the car is in reverse.
I'm the one that just put it into reverse.
I don't need this beeping in the cabin.
Just shut it.
Fortunately, you can turn off half of those beeps if you dig really deep into the menu.
And the whole driving suite's not total crap.
You've got some good features, like adapter cruise control that works all the way down to stop and go speed.
You've got lane departure prevention that'll steer you back in Into your lane if you get distracted by the huge stupid interface.
And you've also got semiautomatic parallel parking assist, which will help you steer into parking spot, though on the first and the last time that I used it, it managed to pretty badly scuff its own wheel on the curb.
I've never seen a robot parking system hurt itself that badly, so I'll probably be doing my own steering [INAUDIBLE] for the rest of the driving.
Thanks so much.
Now when I say that the Prime is a worse car but a better Prius, I mean that those Things that make a good car good.
Cargo capacity, handling and performance, being easy to live with on a day to day basis are just not as good here as they are in the standard model, though for those compromises, the Prime does return a lot better fuel economy and much better potential for efficiency, and as we all know, MPGs are what make a Prius.
The Prius Prime starts at around $27,000 for the entry model, which interestingly, if you get all the tax credits and incentives, ends up being a little bit cheaper than the standard Prius on the bottom line.
However, this advanced model with all the bells and whistles starts at around $33,000.
Now, the Prius Prime is not a disappointment but it is disappointing.
Believe it or not, I'm actually a fan of the standard Prius of this generation.
Though, don't go telling everybody that.
But Toyota actually had a really good starting point on which to build its plug-in hybrid model.
But instead, it decided to go meddling with all those things that don't really matter to the driving experience.
Creating a lot of unnecessary compromises and small frustrations, that just make the Prime hard to live with on a daily basis.
Even though it's plug in hybrid power train is more efficient and more flexible, making it a much better bargain and a much better Prius.