Toyota Prius Prime – Efficient and useful

By Kelly Foss - MyCarData

(February 18, 2022) It's hard to believe that the first Prius came on the market 25 years ago in 1997. The basic premise of the vehicle has remained the same but the current model is light years ahead of the original one. The Prime version of the Prius is a plug-in hybrid model that has a fuel economy rating of 54 city and 133 highway MPG. To get those astronomical highway numbers requires you to plug in the car to fully charge the battery.  During my somewhat rambunctious test driving, I averaged about 66 miles per gallon in a week.



For those who are interested in moving toward greater fuel efficiency and fewer pollutants but are not quite ready to dive into a full electric vehicle just yet, the Prime may be the perfect transitional choice. It only takes a couple of hours to fully charge the battery and it delivers a range of over 600 miles before you run out of both gas and electrons.

The failsafe technology in the Prime is that if you drive the vehicle long enough to fully drain the battery, it will still drive you down the road quite normally using just the gas engine.

Some potential first-time hybrid buyers may have concerns about the long-term reliability of hybrid drivetrains. If that's a concern, there's a powerful argument for buying a Prius. Toyota has probably put more hybrid vehicles on the road than all the other manufacturers in North America combined. They have enough experience and confidence in their battery technology that the hybrids come with a 10-year battery warranty.

Objectively, based on 25 years of experience in the vehicle, the Prius has proven to be very reliable. Not only that, but the vehicle also has very good road manners and is quite enjoyable to drive. The seating is very comfortable and sufficiently spacious. Electronic controls are well placed and are pretty intuitive to operate.  Additionally, the portrait oriented 11-inch display screen in the middle of the passenger compartment is not only entertaining but is a useful tool. The cabin is quiet inside and both its acceleration and handling are surprisingly good.

Subjectively, not everyone is in love with the styling of the vehicle and the fact that it seems not to have a front bumper is somewhat unique. Far more unusual is that the leading edge of the front end of the car is made of soft plastic pieces with electronic sensors not far behind. The Prime is a four-door hatchback model and although there is sufficient space to store things, because of the larger battery pack, the cargo floor is somewhat higher than normal.

As with all Toyota vehicles, the standard safety systems in this Prius are outstanding. The fact that the car gets a 5-star safety rating, the highest rating available, verifies that the systems work well.

My test car was the top-of-the-line Limited model priced at approximately $35,000. Interestingly, the base LE Prime plug-in hybrid priced at $28,000 is only $3,500 more than the base non-plug-in Prius. If you intend to keep your Prius for a while it makes sense to spend the extra money to get the plug-in Prime version.