The all-new 2017 Toyota Prius Prime brings plug-in power to the petrol-electric small car, with the new, more stylish and more technologically-advanced model debuting at the 2016 New York auto show.
Described by the brand as the “most technologically advanced, best-equipped Prius in the model’s history”, the new plug-in hybrid Prius model sees big improvements over the previous-generation version of the car.
Indeed, Toyota claims there has been a 26 per cent enhancement in terms of efficiency when compared with the old model – now 120 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), or about 2.0 litres per 100 kilometres – thanks to the bigger capacity 8.8kWh lithium battery bank and improvements to the actual hybrid drivetrain.
The electric range is double that of the previous model at 22 miles (35km), and Toyota claims that it can be driven in EV mode at up to 84 miles per hour (135km/h). Further, the company says the new model will not change to hybrid mode when EV mode is selected, even “if you floor it”.
Charging is said to take 5.5 hours from empty using a US outlet, or half that using a 240-volt point. Toyota claims the total driving range of the Prius Prime is more than 600 miles (965km) with a full battery and full tank of petrol (43L).
On the topic of petrol, the Prius Prime uses the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine that is used in the regular Prius. In Hybrid mode, the Prius Prime can run on the gasoline engine or electric motor alone or a combination of both.
Clearly it looks very different to the regular Prius, too, with much more cohesive styling at the front at the rear. There are jewel-like LED headlights and upstanding LED daytime running lights in the bumper, while the rear features a broad, boomerang-like LED tail-light system.
There’s a double-wave rear windscreen to help with aerodynamic efficiency, too, as well as automatic grille shutters.
Inside the Prius Prime takes another step up from the regular model, too, with the centrepiece being a new 11.6-inch tablet-style media system with satellite navigation and pinch/swipe gestures, and a full colour head-up display.
Safety is sorted by way of the Toyota Safety Sense system, which includes pre-collision warning and braking as well as pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assistance, radar cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights. There’s also blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, a rear-view camera and eight airbags.
It appears quite clear that the new Toyota Prius Prime won’t be sold in Australia. Just a couple of weeks ago the company’s marketing chief, Tony Cramb, told CarAdvice that the Australian market is not ready for plug-in hybrid Prius models.
“When we have done the analysis for us, it’s not ready yet,” Cramb told CarAdvice. “The market is not ready yet, for the sorts of volumes that we need to bring in to make it worthwhile.”
We’ll let you know if that decision changes. In the US, it will be sold in all 50 states, and will arrive in showrooms later this year.
Click the Photos tab above for more images of the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime.