EV Review: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime

 In Electric Cars

The Toyota Prius is in its fourth generation and is the best-selling hybrid. New for the 2017 model year is the Toyota Prius Prime, the first plug-in hybrid Prius. From the outside, there’s not a huge difference to set it apart from the other Prius models. However, at its core, there are some distinct changes. Most notable is the all-electric mode with a larger battery back, offering an all-electric drive of 25 miles at speeds up to 84 miles per hour. That requires a charging port obviously, and comes with changes in the design to accommodate the battery. The trunk space is reduced to make room for the 8.8-kWh battery. For most consumers, that difference is negligible unless you really need the space for overnight luggage or all-day shopping trips.

The new 2017 Toyota Prius Prime gets its own unique interior facelift, setting it apart from the rest of the Prius family. It contains great features including that center dash instrument panel and a massive portrait-mounted infotainment screen with Entune Premium Audio, mimicking the style of the Tesla lineup. The features are wonderful, including the integrated Navigation but the design is certainly dominant.

Toyota Prius Prime 2017

Exterior Styling

The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime has similar styling to other popular Toyota models including the newest Corolla generation. The two-tone grille, penetrative Quad-LED headlights, and aggressive fascia designs give a premonition of what the Prius Prime can do…perhaps over-selling the Prius Prime’s performance. However, it is an attractive compact sedan. At the back, needle-thin LED wraparound taillights integrate into the spoiler. The rear hatch also uses a dual-wave pane of glass, adding to the Prius Prime’s intrigue and style. While the 2017 Prius Prime is aggressive and modern, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. If a traditional approach with classic lines is your thing, the Prius Prime may not be your cup of tea.

Fit and finish interior

The elephant in the room is the Entune Premium Audio-equipped 11.6-inch touchscreen on the Premium and Advanced trims. It’s just overwhelming, and it’s distracting especially with the motion of a navigation map. The Entune Premium Audio features are great including Entune App Suite, Bluetooth audio streaming, SiriusXM capabilities, HD Radio, and advanced voice recognition, which is why the 7-inch screen in the Prius Prime Plus trim feels like a better choice. With that out of the way, there’s much more to be satisfied with. Smart Key System is standard on all trims along with Push Button Start. The 4.2-inch customizable Multi-Information Display shows Energy Monitor, Eco Score, Drive Diary and more. The Plus trim has fabric seating while the Premium and Advanced trims get SofTex seats and a power adjustable driver’s seat. The upper trims also get a Qi-compatible wireless charging station.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime interior screen

It’s all put together well, feeling like a modest yet upper-grade interior. The modern console and center stack feel slightly out of place, but everything else is done well. Because the Prius Prime is a car expected to rack up the miles in its lifetime, it feels like special attention was paid to comfort. Seats are firm but supportive, especially for extended sits.

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Driving Experience

Toyota says they’ve equipped the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime with ‘touring-tuned suspension’, and you can be assured it’s not a sports car by any means. Between the soft suspension and the mute electric steering feel, the Prius Prime isn’t exactly exciting to pilot. But it’s a plug-in hybrid, so you’re probably not concerned about a zero to sixty time anyway. That said, the hybrid powertrain is better than you might expect. Between the 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder and the 53kW electric motor, the Prius Prime holds its own. Operating in strictly electric mode is possible – the Prius Prime has an all-electric, hybrid, and gasoline-powered mode selection – and that feels torquey like an electric motor should.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Performance

A full charge lasts about 25 miles in strict electric mode, and that means commuters who can stick to just electric power can achieve up to 133 MPGe. In gas-powered hybrid mode, that drops down to an extremely strong 54 mpg combined city and hwy according to EPA estimates. A full charge with a household charging cord is less than 6 hours, making the level 2 charge needless for most people. And it’s this type of information that appeals to the Prius Prime buyer.

Features

MSRP $27,100 USD
Type PHEV
Electric range 25 Miles / 40 Kms
Total range 640 Miles / 1030 Kms
Time to charge 2.25 Hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 53 kW
Battery Capacity 8.8 kWh
Top Speed 115 Mph / 185 Km/h
Warranty 3 Years / 36,000 Miles or 60,000 Kms Comprehensive Warranty, 8 Years / 100,000 Miles or 160,000 Kms Hybrid Component Coverage

Conclusion

The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime isn’t a car that can be relied upon for extended electric-only trips so it’s geared more towards the everyday commuter that lives a short distance from the office. Its 640-mile range makes it a great choice if you want to head out of state on weekends without needing to plan ahead for a charging station. And it’s short 120-volt charging time gives it great appeal for the common person who doesn’t want a big bill fitting a Level 2 charger in their garage.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Top Competitors

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