This is Toyota’s sole plug-in model, which is a head-scratcher when you consider how early this company got into the hybrid game, not to mention how quickly the electric vehicle market is growing.
The Prius Prime builds on the standard Prius but adds a higher-capacity battery that can be charged while the car is parked.
Toyota redesigned the Prius into its current, fourth generation in 2016 and added the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Prime in 2017. The standard car received a refresh last year, and the Prime once again follows a year later with its own update for 2020.
What's New / Key Changes from Last Year
This year, the Toyota Prius Prime gains a third rear seat (for five seats total); standard Apple CarPlay and satellite radio; two new USB ports for the rear cabin; black interior accents (replacing white); a sun visor extender, and relocated seat heater buttons for easier access.
Toyota offers the Prius Prime in three trims: base, Upgrade and Technology. A four-cylinder gas engine and electric motor combine for 121 hp and an unspecified amount of torque. The transmission is a continuously variable automatic. Unlike the regular Prius (which is covered in its own buyer’s guide entry), the Prime is not available with AWD.
Beyond 2020’s additions, the Prius Prime’s standard features list carries over from 2019. It includes LED headlights and taillights, passive keyless entry (driver’s door only), automatic climate control, heated and synthetic leather-trimmed steering wheel, a six-speaker stereo with 7.0-inch touchcreen, cloth seating with manual six-way driver and four-way front passenger adjustments, heated front seats, power windows with auto up/down, cruise control, forward collision detection with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and dynamic radar cruise control.
Prius Prime’s Upgrade package adds an 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation, softex upholstery and a power driver’s seat.
Finally, the Technology option brings a 10-speaker stereo, intelligent parking assist, parking sensors, head-up display, fog lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, garage door opener, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and rain-sensing wipers.
Toyota’s fuel consumption estimates for the Prius Prime are 4.3/4.4 L/100 km (city/highway) when running as a gas-electric hybrid. With a fully-charged battery, it’s rated at 1.8 Le/100 km.
Prius Prime has a handful of direct competitors. Hyundai has the Ioniq Electric Plus and the Sonata PHEV. Kia has PHEV versions of its Niro wagon and Optima sedan. If you want to stretch the Prius Prime’s competitive envelope, expand your horizons to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Mini Cooper Countryman S E.
Chevrolet recently stopped building the Volt PHEV, so it’s only a Prius Prime competitor as long as there are examples left on dealer lots. Likewise for the Ford Fusion Energi, but Ford will move its PHEV tech into a crossover model soon enough.