Toyota calls its Prius Prime the company’s most advanced hybrid yet. With an EPA-estimated 133 MPGe and 54 combined mpg it’s one of the most efficient cars in its class and one of the most efficient hybrids in America. In 2018, it was the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the USA. These days, the Prime represents 35% of the total Prius family sales. It was the second best-selling EV in the USA in 2018, with sales of 27,595 units, beat out only by the Tesla Model 3.
Prime’s cutting-edge, lightweight materials, advanced technology, total range of 640 gas and electric miles and affordability make it one of the most desirable plug-ins on the market. The hybrid can drive up to 25 miles in EV Mode using its 8.8kWh battery for power.
For 2018, the Prius Prime earned the Automotive Science Group’s BEST ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE Award for its 133-MPGe EPA rating, its 25-mile electric range, low manufacturing footprint, usage of biodegradable upholstery and dashboard materials, and end-of-life recyclability. ASG’s annual study found the Prime to hold the smallest carbon footprint of any model year 2018 car in the North American market. In ASG’s data-driven automotive life-cycle assessment, the Prius Prime not only won its class, but also outperformed all 1,664 (with trim variants) vehicles assessed.
In ASG’s all-around performance assessment – the combined environmental, social and economic performance analysis - the Prius Prime furthered its winnings to earn the highest distinction as ASG’s BEST ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE CAR OF 2018. The PHEV outperformed all conventional and alternatively powered vehicles to take the top honor.
The California Air Resources Board has given Prime a Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) III, Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) 30 Rating. A SULEV is a super-ultra-low-emission vehicle: SULEV emissions are 90% cleaner than the average new model year car.
Because it’s a plug-in, the car is eligible for up to a $4,500 Federal Tax Credit and a potential $1500 California Rebate. A Current EV representative can explain how you can qualify for these incentives.
The 2020 Prime comes with five seats now instead of four, and Toyota finally added Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, making them standard.
There are 3 Prime 2020 models: LE ($27,600 MSRP), XLE ($29,500 MSRP), and Limited ($33,500 MSRP).
All of them use a 1.8Liter 4-Cylinder ECVT Hybrid Engine (ECVT), and Permanent magnet AC synchronous motors. Standard on all trims: an Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission; Front-Wheel Drive, Power-assisted ventilated front disc brakes; solid rear discs with integrated regenerative braking and the Star Safety System; and a Sequential multi-point EFI with Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence (ETCS-i).
Standard safety features on all three trims include: Star Safety System which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and; Smart Stop Technology (SST); a Driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System; and Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) which includes: a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
The LE trim’s In-Car-Entertainment system includes: Audio Plus, six speakers, a 7-in. touch-screen, AM/FM, CD player, Scout GPS Link compatible with up to 3-year trial, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay & Amazon Alexa compatible, a USB media port, two USB charge ports, hands-free phone capability, advanced voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology. Connected Services include Safety Connect with 3-year trial, Wi-Fi Connect Powered by Verizon with up to 2 GB within 6-month trial, and SiriusXM with a 3-month All Access trial. The XLE and Limited trims add additional multimedia features.
Prius Prime features visually striking Quad-LED projector headlights and available LED fog lights and accent lights. In the rear, the taillights are equipped with LEDs that producer brighter light and consume less energy.
Optimized placement for the battery pack lowers the car's center of gravity. Using a larger battery than the base Prius, Prime provides 25 pure-electric miles before the gas engine and electric motors take over. Replenishing the battery using a regular wall 120-volt socket takes around 5.5 hours. Level 2 (240-volt) charging time is a little more than 2 hours.
Here’s what Kelley Blue Book says about the Prime’s updated interior: “For 2020, Toyota has made notable improvements. The biggest change is that there are now three rear seats instead of two, giving this PHEV 5-seat capacity like the original Prius plug-in (the Prime name was affixed to the current generation Prius PHEV). Rear-seat passengers now get USB ports for the first time. There are changes up front as well. While the dash continues to be dominated by a bright, easy-to-use 11.6-inch vertical touch screen, that screen now controls two new features: Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. To give the interior a more upscale look for 2020, the automaker replaced the previous Prius Prime’s white accents with black ones. And, paying special attention to detail, Toyota also moved the seat heater buttons to put them in easier reach, and added extenders to the sunvisors.
The Prius Prime interior’s layout has visual cues that resemble other Toyota products, but there are important differences, too. The driver doesn’t face a typical instrument cluster. Instead, speed and other important info are displayed on a narrow screen above the large touch screen.
Says Car & Driver: “The Toyota Prius Prime has a unique spot atop the Prius hierarchy, with an exclusive plug-in-hybrid powertrain and distinct styling differences. While the two Toyota hybrids ride on the same platform and have similar interior arrangements, only the Prime can travel up to 25 miles on electricity alone. Its divergent exterior is more attractive than the traditional Prius, and the Prime can be had with an enormous touchscreen infotainment system.”
Motor Trend on Prime's construction: "Like the standard Prius Hybrid, the Prius Prime features the extensive use of high-strength steel in its construction to keep the body lightweight and strong. Aluminum and carbon fiber also helped keep the car’s weight in check. The hood, for example, is made of aluminum, and the rear hatch is built out of carbon fiber. As a result, the Prius Prime is expected to have one of the lowest drag coefficients among sedans. To help it cheat the wind even better, the Prius Prime also comes with automatic grille shutters for better aerodynamics when the radiator doesn’t need cooling."
Prius Prime comes standard with a no cost maintenance plan for 2 years or 25,000 miles. 24-hour Roadside Assistance is also included for 3 years and unlimited miles. The Hybrid System Warranty is the best in the business: 120 months / 150,000 miles.
REWRITTEN AUGUST 2019
There are currently 4 primary incentives available to the California consumer that substantially lower the cost of buying or leasing an EV. CURRENT provides all the guidance or assistance you may need to apply for these incentives.