By on March 23, 2016

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Front 3/4, Image: Toyota

In the nearly 20 years it’s been on the market, the Toyota Prius has become an icon of eco-friendly motoring. Now, Toyota wants to build on the legend with a new, more upmarket version called Prius Prime. It comes equipped with plug-in charging, but it should be much more than the previous-generation Prius Plug-In. While the Plug-In was basically nothing more than a basic Prius with a larger battery and electric plug, the Prime is supposed to add style and luxury.

From the outside, it’s still evident that the Prime is built on the same bones as the standard Prius, with identical exterior dimensions and similar basic lines, but the details are noticeably different. The front end is much more aggressive, with a blacked-out “grille” area, segmented headlights and teardrop-shaped running and fog lights in the bumper.

In the rear, the huge taillight forms a shape similar to the one on the current generation Charger. Toyota is eager to point out that the new car is no “aero jellybean.” Instead, the car is said to be “daring the wind to stay in its way.”

Overall, the Prime continues in the aggressive direction set up by the 2016 Prius and takes it one step further. Whether this “muscle hybrid” approach will sit well with the traditional Prius customers remains to be seen.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Rear 3/4, Image: Toyota

It’s not all just about looks. The Prime receives a new, 8.8 kWh battery pack. That’s twice the size of its predecessor, doubling the range in fully electric mode to 22 miles. According to Toyota, this should be enough to cover the daily commuting needs of more than a half of U.S. drivers. Recharging the batteries will take 5.5 hours via a standard household outlet, or less than half the time from a 240V plug.

Another difference in comparison with the previous generation, or any other hybrid Toyota for that matter, is that the Prius Prime uses a dual-motor drive system where the generator can be used to provide the driving force as well as the main electric motor. This helps the Prius Prime to achieve more agility in full electric mode, moving its electric top speed to 84 miles per hour, and allows it to spend more time in electric drive, even if driving in standard hybrid mode.

The other part of the Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is once again a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, known from the standard Prius. It’s an Atkinson cycle mill like the standard Prius engine and provides 40-percent thermal efficiency.

The whole drivetrain is said to achieve 120 miles-per-gallon-equivalent in electric mode, whatever that means for real-world consumption. More importantly, the real mpg figures remain the same or slightly better compared with the standard car (54/50 mpg).

Inside, the focal point is the new 11.6-inch infotainment screen with advanced smartphone connection. You can now control the car’s AC from a smartphone, manage its charging schedule, find charging stations, and — of course — compare your eco-driving score with others on social media. The last feature will be undoubtedly loved by everyone driving behind the heroic eco-warriors trying to out-do their Facebook friends.

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48 Comments on “NYIAS: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime – Eco-Warrior Goes Posh...”


  • avatar
    a5ehren

    Hrm, this seems like a really nice alternative to a Volt. Maybe a pre-emptive shot at the Tesla 3?

    • 0 avatar
      vtnoah

      I’ve got a C-Max plug in that’s pretty great. I’ll be interested to check this out when my lease comes up in a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >>”Maybe a pre-emptive shot at the Tesla 3?”

      Not a very good shot at the Model 3 if that’s the intention. The Prius is a smaller car than the Tesla 3. About 10 inches shorter and about 3 or 4 inches narrower. The Bolt has the same issue – it’s about 20 inches shorter than the Model 3 and costs more.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Twitter has been around for ten years and the Prius for twenty.

    I’m old…

    • 0 avatar

      You old, psarhj, old. I’m older than you. Conceived in Truman, born in Ike, just hours before the first Corvette rolled off the line.

      This thing actually looks pretty good. I never thought I’d say that about a Prius. Sounds good, too. But I enjoy a clutch too much to get one of these. (See, I’m old.)

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I guess this partially explains why the current Prius is so odd looking: start by selling the nerdy, odd-looking car at the lower price, then release the better looking model later and charge a premium because, by comparison, it looks better and performs better.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You go into Sainsbury’s and you see cheese, and it costs a certain amount of money, but then next to it is Taste The Difference cheese and its a little bit more expensive, but it tastes really nice.

      No, but what I want to know is why don’t they just make all the cheese like that.

      Or do they just make that cheese, then make some that’s a bit worse, price it lower, and say, “Here’s some rubbish cheese for poor people.”

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      I’m guessing that after a year or so they’ll just roll these styling updates into the Prius, this particular car is probably just an easy way to test public reaction to these styling changes without having to admit that they screwed up on the regular Prius. If the public loves it they’ll just roll it out after a year, if people hate this design then it doesn’t matter because it’s a very niche high end plugin Prius that wasn’t going to sell in volume anyway.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Hyundai Ioniq PHEV will still be the better car:

    better looks
    31 miles EV range for the PHEV
    better fuel economy
    likely less costly

    http://nicecarsinfo.com/hyundai/2017-hyundai-ioniq/

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I’d like to see the multi-year total cost of ownership comparo.
      I’d guess resale value will be much better with the magic Prius nametag.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Yeah I’m sure it’ll be the better car as it rolls backwards into a wall with your family in the car.

      http://gm-volt.com/2016/03/21/video-shows-hyundai-ioniq-losing-power-on-uphill-stop/

      I mean why buy a Prius with a 20 year record of reliability when you can beta test Hyundai’s new hybrid platform for them?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Why are carmakers insisting on screwing up their hybrids by adding a traditional transmission? Part of the Toyota/Ford systems’ genius is the power transfer unit. So mechanically simple and reliable, and has both gas and electric motors at exactly the right speed at any time. Instead we’ll get DCT finickiness and reduced economy (and do we really trust Hyundai of all makers to get it right on the first try?) just so that it sounds like an old-school car.

      I really don’t understand any hybrid that includes a conventional transmission. Worst of both worlds.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        I was thinking maybe Toyota has patents, but then I remember that the Volt has the the same sun/planetary/ring architecture, it just connects the three motors to it differently. As I recall the ring gear is connected to the ICE in the Volt.
        I suspect the real differences are in the sophistication and complexity of the software that runs the show. I am betting Toyota has a leg up on everyone else in this area.

  • avatar
    Nellakwah

    To have more luxury – is it going to have more sound deadening? That’s a deal breaker for me – the loud, tinny sensation of everything – from the doors to the storage, etc. I’d sacrifice a few MPG to get some insulation / lamination in there.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      It’s more expensive, less efficient and based on an older platform, but there’s still the Lexus CT 200h if you’re looking for something a little plusher.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        CT200h isn’t very plush. It’s still pretty loud, and it doesn’t have a number of features that are more or less expected throughout the rest of the Lexus lineup. In theory, there’s a luxury package that makes up some of the difference — but I haven’t been able to find a single example actually equipped with the package.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          You’re talking memory seats. Am I right? I see they’re available, just not on any cars I can find.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Also leather (!), power passenger seat, and a few other little features.

            I think it’s telling that almost all of them have the big tech package but none of them have the luxury package. Shows just how closely it’s related to the Prius, which is typically equipped the same way.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          LOL, the Nav package on the CT200h is $3,500!

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Since the focus of this model is really maximum possible efficiency I doubt they’re going to be stuffing 100+ pounds of sound deadening everywhere like you’d need to get it luxury quiet. If you look at the CT200h you can tell it takes a pretty bad hit to the mileage when you lux up a car like that, and it makes it slower as well. Speaking of which, I’m actually most curious as to whether this new Prius Prime is actually a quicker car since it can now use two electric motors to drive itself I’m guessing that it can deliver a bit more power and torque than the standard Prius. Might not be a slow car anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        Menar Fromarz

        Don’t be so sure on the alleged mileage hit….we have owned our ct200h for a year now and average 4.4l /100 km with the controller set to Eco. And like all the upgraded features that were unavailable on the regular Prius. We love our Lexus!

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Have you experienced a 2016? Reports are that it is much improved in the quietness area.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That is… fracking hideous.

    It is also basically a Prius Ultra or Regency Elite. Welcome to modern brougham.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Design inspiration:
    http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–MeexR2u4–/18lstakerb85cjpg.jpg

    All it needs is the red LED going back and forth in the grille. Start up the car and it says “By Your Command.”

    Well, I suppose the good news is that Toyota designers are also Battlestar Galactica fans. Respect.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Looks as if it’s being prepped for a colonoscopy.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I could totally see Prius drivers going for this.

    If only it weren’t so damn hideous.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    No pictures of this new interior???

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      TTAC doesn’t do pictures that matter. They left the top up picture off the Miata post and they left the interior pic with the Tesla like 12″ screen off this one.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m not understanding the current dimpled theme with Toyotas. They look to be simultaneously scowling and constipated.

    This isn’t even lipstick on a pig; at least pigs give you bacon.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    “The last feature will be undoubtedly loved by everyone driving behind the heroic eco-warriors trying to out-do their Facebook friends.”

    Why the gratuitous snarky comment? Do you say things like this about performance car enhancements? Or all the little badges stuck on cars to indicate superiority over lesser versions?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Or all the little badges stuck on cars to indicate superiority over lesser versions?”

      You mean like the HYBRID badges on a dedicated hybrid model since inception?

  • avatar
    wmba

    A Leaf manages almost exactly 4 miles per kWh. This Prius plug in manages about 2.5 (8.8 kWh and 22 miles). Why so bad? Cannot quite work out where the 120 mpgE rating comes from, since the Leaf is only rated at 126 with the small battery and 124 with the big one.

    And this thing looks some kind of weird with front fascia side air intakes big enough for a big jet engine.

  • avatar
    Roadranger

    “It’s not all just about looks.”

    You most certainly would hope not. This thing has a face like a kicked in biscuit tin.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    The new Prius is horrifying in photos, but actually very attractive in person. I dated someone like that once.

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    When do we get a Prius Sport?

    Seriously. If Toyota put some effort into making a Prius that autocrossed well and looked a little more sporting, I think they’d sell the crap out of them. I commute just a little more than 22 miles to work and home. I’d be interested.

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