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LE $27,750 XLE $29,650 LIMITED $33,650
MPG: 55/53/54 Combined Range: 640 EV Mode Range: 25mi
Horsepower: 121 hp (90kw)
Fuel tank capacity: 11.4 gal
Engine: 1.8 L 4-cylinder ECVT Hybrid Battery Capacity: 8.8
Curb Weight: 3,375
With no mechanical changes, quality-of-life items are what’s new for 2020. These include standard SiriusXM satellite radio, plus Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Android Auto users are still out of luck, though. The back seat sees a couple of changes, with two additional USB ports and an optional fifth seat. The trim names have changed to LE, XLE, and Limited, in line with other Prius models, rather than last year’s Plus, Premium, and Advanced. All three levels go
up $275 in price for 2020. XLE and Limited trims continue to feature a dashboard-dominating 11.6-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation.
Every Prius Prime model has the same Plug-In Hybrid system, with
up to 25 miles of driving range on electricity alone. Therefore, your biggest decision will be what standard features you want on your Prime. Even the entry-level LE has Toyota’s Safety Sense-P suite of active-safety features, including lane-departure warning
with steering assist, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise
control, plus a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. The midrange XLE gets wireless charging and a huge 11.6- inch screen. The top-end Limited adds a color head-up display, park assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rain-sensing wipers; it’s a lot more car for not a lot more money. Still, we’d recommend the XLE as having most of the features you’d want while coming in just under the $30,000 mark.
The Prius Prime has a four-
cylinder engine that works with an electric motor, a battery pack, and
a continuously variable automatic transmission to maximize the Prime’s efficiency. In that regard, it succeeds, but the miserly powertrain is otherwise uninspiring. The Prime switches effortlessly and smoothly between gas and electric propulsion, while three driving modes (Power, Normal, and Eco) attempt to affect the perception of acceleration. None will produce anything approaching quickness.
The Prime is generally comfortable and suitable for jaunts around town.
However, its ride turns jittery and harsh when it encounters badly blemished pavement. Clicking the shifter into
the B position increases regenerative braking and causes the Prime to
slow down noticeably as soon as
the driver lifts off the accelerator. In Normal mode, drivers won’t notice the Prime’s regen, and while the transition from regenerative to friction braking
is smooth, it’s difficult to brake gently or early enough to stay in the Eco zone of the Prius’s driving meter.
All three Prius Prime models have the same EPA ratings, which are
55 mpg city and 53 highway for the gasoline engine. Combined with electricity from the hybrid system, the government estimates it will earn 133 MPGe. This makes the Prime a good choice for fuel-conscious buyers. An EPA-rated 25 miles of pure-electric range may be enough for some daily commutes, but it’s less than half of the range offered by the Volt. Likewise,
the Primes tested on a 200-mile fuel-economy route missed the EPA highway rating. However, since testing at a considerably higher speed than the EPA, you’d be impressed by any Plug-In that was able to equal its
EPA number. In hybrid mode, the Prime Plus earned 47 mpg highway and the Premium model earned 49 mpg. The testing of each with EV mode the Plus earned 116 MPGe and the Premium earned 118.
The dashboard layout is not conventional, with a stubby electronic shifter sticking out of the center
of the dash and a digital gauge cluster placed between the driver and front-seat passenger instead
of directly in front of the driver.
While the passenger cabin of the Prius Prime and the standard Prius hybrid are equally roomy, the Prime’s cargo hold is meaningfully diminished by its larger battery. It provides less real-world luggage space than the standard Prius and some of its competition. Interior storage is ample, but family road trips could be a tight fit.
a 120-volt power source or a little more than two hours with 240 volts.
The LE starts you out with features such as LED headlights, automatic climate control, keyless access
and start, heated front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, a USB port, and a six-speaker sound system. A suite of advanced driver safety aids, called Toyota Safety Sense P, is also standard.
Stepping up one rung to the XLE trim level puts you into the Prius Prime’s sweet spot. It includes a power driver’s seat, an 11.6-inch central touchscreen and upgraded infotainment system, simulated leather upholstery, keyless entry on the other three doors, and wireless smartphone charging.
The Limited trim level adds a premium audio system, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming mirror, a head-up display, a smartphone app with a charge management system and remote-control climate operation, automatic wipers, and a semi- automated parking function.
JUNE 2020

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