Toyota revealed the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid at this year’s New York auto show, and with it a few surprises compared to the standard Prius. As the Prime gears up to face off against other PHEVs like the Chevrolet Volt and the new Hyundai Ioniq, it hopes to offer a combination of reliability, utility, and premium technology that’s a cut above the competition. Here are the main things you need to know about the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime.
1. It’s a four-seater. It seems a little strange that Toyota would offer only four seats for the Prius Prime plug-in, but there are a few reasons that the new model doesn’t seat five. For one, Toyota’s research actually indicates that its consumers only wanted two rear seats, as long as they were spacious and comfortable. We sat in the back seat of a Prime on the auto show floor, and there’s definitely a good amount of space, particularly for your shoulders.
We asked Toyota whether the decision to go with a four-seat arrangement was driven by packaging limitations, given the size of the 8.8-kWh battery that rests under the floor between the rear seats. A Toyota spokesperson confirmed that the setup does work well with the battery packaging, but downplayed the idea that this was the primary force behind the decision to go with four seats instead of five.
2. The trunk loses 7 cubic feet. of space. Although the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime keeps its liftback shape, it does sacrifice a far bit of cargo space to accommodate the larger battery. When you open the carbon-fiber liftgate, it’s clear that the trunk floor is a lot higher than a regular Prius, so those needing to frequently haul lots of stuff may be better served by the standard model’s full 27.4 cu ft. of storage.
3. The Prime has a 22-mile all-electric range. On top of the standard Prius’ very competitive fuel efficiency, the plug-in version gets twice the electric range of its predecessor. Although it still falls short of the Hyundai Ioniq’s “over 25-mile” electric range and the Volt’s 53-mile EV range, the Prius Prime boasts a total range of more than 600 miles. Toyota told us that over 50 percent of consumers will be able to use only electric energy for their commutes, and up to 80 percent will be able to charge their car at work for even more range.
4. Pricing will be “very aggressive.” Toyota isn’t saying just yet what the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime will cost, but we can expect it will be within reach for Prius buyers looking for something a little extra. “Pricing will bridge a gap to attainability,” said a Toyota spokesperson on the auto show floor. “You can expect it will be fairly consistent with where the last Prius Plug-In was positioned.” Compared to other EVs like the Volt, which starts at $33,995 before incentives, the Prius Prime might be a fair bit cheaper. The most-efficient Prius Two Eco starts at $25,535.
5. The 11.6-inch JBL touchscreen with Entune apps is straight out of the Tesla playbook. This svelte piece of tech, complete with swipe functionality like in a Model S or a Volvo XC90, will be offered exclusively in the Prius Prime. Toyota is clearly trying to position the Prime as a premium option compared to the Prius, complete with a 4.2-inch TFT instrument display.
The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime goes on sale this fall.
2017 Toyota Prius Prime rear side view