Twenty-two miles. When you’re driving a car, that doesn’t sound like much. But when that vehicle is the 2017 Prius Prime, it could fundamentally change the way you get around on a day-to-day basis. That’s because those 22 miles represent what Toyota projects as the estimated electric-only range of this next-generation plug-in hybrid—unveiled at the New York International Auto Show. By doubling the EV range of the vehicle it will replace, Toyota anticipates this new model could meet the daily commuting needs of more than half of all U.S. drivers. As such, many Prius Prime owners could go several days without consuming any gasoline. But those same owners will also have the peace of mind of knowing that, when needed, the Prius Prime’s improved hybrid powertrain will be there to transport them much farther. At a manufacturer-estimated 120 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), the latest iteration of the world’s best-selling hybrid is expected to be the most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid on the road. Even in hybrid-only mode, the Prius Prime will likely be the leader of the MPG class. No wonder Toyota decided to change this Prius’ model name to Prime.
But there’s so much more to this product story than miserly motoring. Consider this partial list of features that clearly set the Prime apart from its siblings in the Prius family of hybrids:
Prime also applies to the vehicle’s standard advanced safety technology. Toyota Safety Sense P, anchored by automatic pre-collision braking, bundles:
All of the above can be augmented with the available blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert systems.
In addition, the Prius Prime carries forward all of the innovations introduced on the fourth-generation Prius Liftback last fall. For instance, this plug-in hybrid now rides on a new high-strength platform and double-wishbone independent rear suspension. It’s 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and about an inch lower than its predecessor, expanding cargo room and promoting a road-hugging stance. Its more chiseled and edgy exterior is slipperier than ever, employing automatic grille shutters that close when airflow to the radiator isn’t needed. And while the Prius Prime has been loaded with more features, its overall weight has been kept in check—thanks in part to an aluminum hood, carbon fiber on the rear hatch and high-tensile strength steel in other key components. Take a deeper dive and you’ll find breakthroughs like a Toyota-first dual motor generator drive system. It uses both the electric motor and the generator to amplify drive force, helping to boost acceleration. Also noteworthy: The 8.8kWh battery pack doesn’t require any special equipment for home charging. Just plug the supplied cord into a standard household outlet (110 or 120v) and the Prius Prime can be fully charged in approximately 5.5 hours. Upgrade to a 240v source and the charge can be completed in less than half the time.
Oh, and there will be apps. Lots and lots of apps. For instance, Prius Prime owners who sign up for the subscription-free Entune App Suite and will get access to a wide array of content sources, such as:
Separately, Toyota will offer an exclusive suite of Prius Prime Apps that—when activated at the touch of a smartphone—will provide:
Add it all up and it’s clear: This new Prius, a total package that promises to deliver exceptional value when it arrives at dealerships in late fall, is definitely ready for prime time.