Toyota's Prius has long been an icon of fuel efficiency and parsimonious motoring. But, for motorists wanting the most thrifty Prius yet, there's only one choice: the Plug-in.
Launched three years ago, the Prius Plug-in carries over for model year 2015 without any changes.
The powertrain of the Plug-in is very similar to the standard Prius, and features a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine at its heart, that when combined with its hybrid powertrain, produces 134 net horsepower.
The key difference between the standard model and the Plug-in is its battery pack. In place of the NiMH battery pack is an energy-dense lithium-ion pack. At 4.4 kWh, it's on the small side for plug-in hybrids, and provides the Prius Plug-in with an all-electric range of 25 km. That's significantly smaller than the 7.6 kWh pack fitted to the Ford C-Max and Fusion Energi, or the 17.1 kWh unit featured in the Chevrolet Volt.
The upshot is that the Prius Plug-in has a very rapid charge time. It takes just 90 minutes to fill its battery pack, which means owners need not spend thousands of dollars to install a 240-volt charger. In addition, the plug-in hybrid components don't detract heavily from the Prius' overall practicality, unlike with some rivals. Overall cargo space is rated at 612 L.
When running as a plug-in vehicle, the Prius Plug-in is rated at 2.5 Le/100 km. It is also capable of traveling at speeds of up to 100 km/h purely on electricity, something the regular Prius cannot do.
Standard equipment on the Prius Plug-in is on par with the mid-range Prius, and includes standard heated cloth-upholstered seats, unique 15-inch alloy wheels and tailgate garnish, a 6.1-inch display audio system with navigation, proximity key with push-button start, and a reverse camera.
The Plug-in is available with an optional Technology Package which adds radar cruise control, pre-collision warning, auto-leveling headlamps, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, synthetic leather upholstery, LED headlamps, headlight washers, fog lamps, and an eight-speaker JBL audio system.
If the thought of a plug-in Prius is appealing, consider snapping one up soon before it's discontinued. It's likely to be a two-year wait before the next-generation version arrives. Pricing for the Prius Plug-in starts at $35,905.
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