Debuted at the New York Auto Show, the headline from the hybrid is the 120 MPGe. It is also replacing the Prius Plug-In model, giving owners of the outgoing model nearly everything on their respective wishlist.
2017 Prius Prime
The biggest feature? It locks in EV mode. Even when you stomp the accelerator. Before you have dreams of Furious 8, check those at the curb. In EV mode, the top speed sees a performance jump to 84 mph. That’s a jump over the 62 mph the Plug-In model enjoys today.
Not exactly tearing up the neighborhood, but it’ll get you around town.
What magic did the Toyota engineers pull to get the performance specs up? The secondary electric motor engages in EV mode, pushing the complete power to 95 kW (127 hp) in electric mode.
Toyota also developed a special one-way sprag clutch to allow the car to transition to EV-only mode and back seamlessly. Once you’ve exhausted the battery drag racing to your kid’s soccer game, it reverts to the Hybrid Synergy Drive.
How far are you driving on a single charge and full tank? Toyota is pushing the narrative the Prius Prime will enjoy a range of 600+ miles. The 120 MPGe is the company line, with the final rating yet to be determined. If it holds up, the automaker is looking at the best-in-class efficiency rating on the hybrid market.
Prius Prime Design Tweaks
Looking at the outside, not much has changed. Looks like a Prius. Drives like a Prius. Eco-friendly like a Prius.
The rear hatch is now carbon fiber to help reduce weight, and the dual wave rear glass helps cut drag. Any and everything to hit the 120 MPGe.
Inside, the Prius Prime did adjust the positioning of the 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery. It’s now under and slightly behind the rear seat. Toyota is relying on ambient air to keep the battery cool.
Interesting choice, and it stands to reason as battery tech advances in capacity, liquid cooling or a forced-air system will make its way into future models.
EV Range and What’s in Store?
Prius owners have been clamoring for increased range. The Prius Prime offers it with an effective 22-mile range in EV. I’m assuming that’s you not mashing the accelerator.
Toyota boasts the range enables 50% of Americans to commute to work and home on a single charge. Well, I’m not in that 50%. 22 miles? That would have me stuck somewhere on I-759.
What’s next for the Prius Prime? Better range. 22 miles is great, but the industry standard seems to be moving towards 30 miles. And beyond. That will demand larger battery capacities and faster charging.
The Prius Prime is enjoying an upgrade over the Plug-In model. Replacing the 2.2 kW charger is a 3.3 kW charger. Using a standard AC outlet, you’ll be charged up in around 5.5 hours.
Not a fan of the Prius, but love the ‘Prime’ Hybrid Synergy Drive? Give it a couple of years, and the system will underpin nearly every Toyota model – from the Avalon to the Yaris. Oh, expect a heavy dose of the ‘Prime’ branding.
Expect the Prius Prime in showrooms this fall.
Sure, it’s not a supercar, but the Prius Prime offers something those monsters can’t. The ability to leave the gas station unattached.