Toyota lately has certainly been stepping out of their safety zone, developing some off-the-wall design schemes. It’s no shocker their all-new Prius Prime is making heads turn, and possibly not in a good way. However, as well all know, it’s how you look on the inside that counts, and that makes all the difference. Thanks Mom!
When the Prius first hit showroom floors over a decade ago – it didn’t fair too well to the public eye. Somehow in its second generation, Toyota recovered the Prius and it became one of the world most phenomenon cars on the market.Now taking it into the future, Toyota took the Prius and made it with full electric capabilities while maintaining the Hybrid engineering.
Let’s face the fact, the Prius Prime isn’t going to win the beauty pageant of the year. Even compared to its smaller, funk-a-delic Prius, the Prime looks awkward – the aggressive styling at the front works with quad LED headlamps and black bumper fascia. However from the side it comes off disproportionate – there’s slabs of sheet metal and look how huge the front doors are. There are more LED lights than a Las Vegas night club and our $899 optional 15-inch alloy wheels look like they came off a modified low-rider.
This design is all in the sake of piercing through the air like a cupid’s arrow searching for a lonely heart – how else do we get 50 mpg? One can say, once we cross the threshold we don’t have to see it – they do have a point. Inside, it’s very Toyota-esc – we’re cocooned into a comfortable oasis of technology and digital displays. Our top trimmed Advanced, one of three trim levels, featured a Tesla like 11.6-inch high-definition multimedia touch screen display, heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, and Toyota Safety Sense (lane departure warning/assist, forward collision alert/autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams & Park Assist) – which is a standard feature.
For a car that speaks many faces, its interior is pleasantly pleasing. It offers many soft touch materials and attractive piano black/white trim surroundings. Everything is very well laid out in a user friendly manner and the seats are absolutely fantastic to sit in. Rear occupants only have two seats to sit in and maintain adequate space though can be a little snug if taller than six feet. With the sloping roof line and high mounted cargo trunk for the batteries, it does limited the available space for storable items – lets just hope nothing bulky has to fit back there.
While there are many positive things we say about the interior of the Prius Prime – there are just as much annoyances. We don’t understand the constant beeping after engaging reverse – and if you don’t have your seat belt on or you’re close to an object, there are three different signals screaming in our ears. When the sun is just right, it puts a glare over the large screen and makes it hard to see. There are so many icon notifications on the instrument cluster; it’s like seeing someone’s iPhone with 4,685 unread emails. Anxiety much.
In the Hybrid community, being a team player is key to performance. Like the Prius, the Prius Prime uses two engines to move about – a 1.8-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor paired with a series of batteries. Combined, they make 121-horsepower. However, when both engines are working together, we find this is a team that has one doing all the work. Allow us to explain:
Unlike the Prius, the Prius Prime uses a much larger battery pack to work with the electric motor. Meaning it can drive up to a claimed 25 miles on a single charge. But when the battery goes flat, and they’ll go quick, the 1.8L gas engine engages and therefore have a traditional hybrid – electricity and gas working side by side. The problem we see, driving the Prime around, it feels like one is constantly doing more work than the other. When driving in electric mode, the torque of the electric motor propels the Prime quickly and sprightly. It’s like a burst of continuous power flowing through the go pedal. When the battery runs flat and it’s time for the gas engine to take reins, the driving demeanor changes. The 95-horsepower gas engine makes the Prime slower than a snail that just chugged an energy drink – we saw close to 12 seconds on our sixty mph run.
The Prius Prime does offer different driving modes to help increase or decrease its drivability – Power, Normal and Eco. Power isn’t what you’d think it is though, it’s more for hills than an exciting driving habit. If we wanted to maintain flow with traffic, it was best we left it in Normal. Unlike a traditional hybrid that allows us to manually engage EV mode at speeds less than 25 mph, the Prime has an EV Auto function that can allocate electric mode at any speed and can stay in electric mode up to 80 mph. A cool feature, however, once the battery dies, by pressing and holding the EV mode, it engaging the gas motor to continually charge the electric motor while driving – this ideally works best when cruising on the freeway, when not a whole lot of power is required.
One can’t measure the softness in the ride quality here but by merely measuring it with a swarm of puppies – that’s how creamy soft the suspension is in the Prime. This of course then articulates body roll in the corners and even with a heavy weighted steering wheel, there’s just air that connects it to the wheels. After spending many, many miles on the road in our Prius Prime, it was easily a mileage eater.
Having that we live relatively close to the office, if we didn’t take our Prius Prime on a 700 mile road trip, we wouldn’t have ever felt the need to stop for gas, it would have been return with the same fuel it arrived in. We discovered by using a regular home outlet, it takes just shy of 6 hours to obtain a full charge from empty – use one of them charging stations and it easily cuts that time in half.
We managed to see 22 miles on a single charge. That balances out to most people’s average commute to work. With having a gas engine as a back up to go an additional 500 mile, just think, we wouldn’t have to fuel up for over a month – just imagine how great that would be.
|2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced:||$33,100|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$36,006|
|1.8-liter Four-Cylinder & Hybrid Synergey Drive System – 121-Combined Horsepower, CVT Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±12.0 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 25 Electric Miles / 54 MPG combined – SSB Average: 22 Electric Miles / 50 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±500 Miles|