The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is being heralded as the “one of the most technologically advanced, best-equipped Prius in the model’s history,” getting a substantial 26-percent improvement over its predecessor, thanks to greater battery capacity and an improved hybrid system. According to the Japanese automaker, the Prius Prime is targeting a hybrid MPG equal to or better than the Prius liftback when used in hybrid mode.
The model is expected to offer an estimated 22 miles on electric driving range, two times more than the previous model. It is also capable of driving at speeds up to 84 mph without leaving EV mode.
Powering the Prius Prime is a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine that can be found in all the 2016 Toyota Prius hybrid models, but it’s paired to a larger 8.8-kWh battery pack.
Compared to the previous Prius plug-in hybrid model, the Prius Prime is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and about an inch lower. Toyota also expects its coefficient of drag to be the lowest for production sedans, thanks to automatic grille shutters that help reduce drag by closing when airflow to the radiator is not needed. To help reduce weight, the company used aluminum for the hood, carbon fiber for the rear hatch and high-tensile strength steel in other parts of the structure.
The automaker estimates that one 11.3-gallon tank of regular-grade gasoline along with a full electric charge will deliver a best-in-class total driving range of over 600 miles.
It also features a Toyota-first dual motor generator drive system that uses both the electric motor and generator for drive force, helping boost acceleration. Regenerative braking will recapture electrical energy under deceleration and braking and stores it in the battery, that helps to reduce fuel consumption.
Advanced technology features on the Toyota Prius Prime include available Intelligent Park Assist (IPA), which uses ultrasonic wave sensors to analyze a parallel parking space before automatically steering into it once activated by the driver. The system will also be capable of reversing the Prius Prime into perpendicular spaces and automatically steer it out of a parallel space.
The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime will arrive dealerships in late fall, so expect pricing to be announced closer to its launch.