For 2017, Toyota moves its sole plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model onto the platform underpinning the latest Prius and renames the car Prius Prime. That's a much more evocative name -- if less descriptive -- than the old Prius PHEV's "Plug-In" handle, and one Toyota says it chose based on its contention the Prime will be the best PHEV in its class.
Toyota claims a driving range of 1,035 km on a full tank of gas and a charged battery, without sacrificing any of the comfort or amenities of the regular Prius.
Built on the same Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) as the standard Prius, the Prime promises better handling and ride thanks to a stiffer chassis and lower centre of gravity, along with better visibility.
Making the Prime work is an 8.8 kWh battery pack that helps the car achieve an energy consumption estimate of 1.8 Le/100 km when running on electricity and go twice as far -- 40 km -- that way than the outgoing Prius Plug-In. When the car is running on gas and electricity, Toyota's consumption estimates are 4.3/4.4 L/100 km (city/highway).
Like the standard Prius, the Prime uses a 1.8L four-cylinder engine that works with the car's electric motors to make 121 hp, which is put to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Despite having led the hybrid segment for many years, Toyota seemed less keen on promoting its dive in the plug-in segment than other automakers: Chevrolet made a bigger splash with its Volt, and Ford made a big deal of its Energi PHEV models. But with the audaciously named Prius Prime, Toyota has announced its intention to do plug-in tech the way it thinks it should be done.
Prius Prime comes in two configurations. Both include the Toyota Safety Sense suite of active safety features, including pre-collision system, lane departure alert, automatic high beams and radar cruise control.
A base model comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen audio system with navigation, automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, two 4.2-inch information displays, eco-drive monitor and passive keyless entry, among other features.
Move up to the Technology trim and Toyota adds a premium audio system with a larger display, wireless smartphone charging, head-up display, intelligent parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and LED fog lights.