Toyota’s newest plug-in hybrid, the 2017 Prius Prime debuts a new design and an improved hybrid system that is expected increase the all-electric range to 22 miles — double the range of the previous Prius Plug-In Hybrid. Toyota estimates Prius Prime will be rated at 120 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), a 26 percent improvement over its predecessor due to greater battery capacity and the improved hybrid system. In hybrid mode the Prius Prime’s fuel economy should be equal to the Prius hatchback, and with a full tank of gas and a full electric charge the total driving range is estimated at 600 miles.
Hybrid Synergy Drive
Prius Prime is powered by a new version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, which utilizes a larger 8.8 kWh battery pack and, for the first time, includes a dual-motor generator drive system that uses both the electric motor and the generator to drive the car, which Toyota says improves acceleration performance. Prius Prime can be plugged in to fully recharge the battery in approximately 5.5 hours using a standard household outlet, or less than half that time using a 240-volt source.
The Prius Prime’s aerodynamic efficiency plays a significant role in its low energy consumption due to its low coefficient of drag, but designers also wanted it to have a futuristic look. Prius Prime is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and about an inch lower than its predecessor for a more aggressive stance and increased cargo room. Automatic grille shutters close to reduce drag when air to the radiator is not needed for cooling.
The Prius Prime’s aerodynamic design has a chiseled, edgy profile with a distinctive aero rear-window treatment. At the front are quad LED headlights and at the rear LED combination lights create a signature look. To save weight, Prius Prime includes an aluminum hood, a carbon fiber rear hatch and the use of high-strength steel in the structure.
Prius Prime adds additional tech features compared to the new Prius hybrid, including an available 11.6-inch HD multimedia screen with standard navigation and available full color head-up display. Similar to a high-end luxury coupe, the Prius Prime features a 4-seat layout with a center console that runs from the dash to the rear seats, with heated front seats and automatic climate control standard. SofTex synthetic leather trimmed seats are optional.
Central Gauge Panel
A signature of the original Prius, Prius Prime retains the center-mounted gauges with dual 4.2-inch full-color TFT (thin film transistor) multi-information displays. The driver can select the information to display with steering-wheel-mounted controls, including hybrid energy information.
Toyota’s top Entune multimedia system is standard on Prius Prime, including a new 11.6-inch HD tablet display and intuitive touch controls. Prius Prime Apps allow the driver to remotely manage the charging schedule, locate charging stations, track eco driving scores, compare driving scores on social media and remotely control the climate control system — all from a smartphone. Other notable features include a USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, Bluetooth music streaming and iPhone Siri Eyes Free mode.
Prius Prime offers available Intelligent Parking Assistant, which uses ultrasonic wave sensors to evaluate a parallel parking space and — when activated by the driver — steer the car into the space. The system can also back Prius Prime into a perpendicular parking space and steer out of a parallel parking space.
Prius Prime is scheduled to arrive at Toyota dealers in late fall of 2016.