Toyota’s Prius made a big entrance in the early 2000s, quickly becoming the world’s best-selling hybrid and paving the way for today’s hot EV market. Now the company is set to change its game again with the upcoming 2017 release of the Prius Prime. Packing a mix of upgraded and familiar features, the Prime can now drive 25 miles without using any gas, comes in three trim levels, and is loaded with Toyota’s familiar plug-in tech.
The major improvement here is definitely the Prime’s all-electric mileage. The car’s 8.8 kW lithium ion battery is twice the size of the most recent Prius battery, and the Prime’s 25 mile range in electric mode is a notable improvement on previous Prius models. Prime will also go 54 miles per gallon when in gasoline mode, says the Los Angeles Times, giving it a range of 124 MPGe and a full range of 640 miles, which stands up well to the competition.
This time around, Toyota is focusing on simplicity, with a pared down selection of three models at three distinct price points. The Prime Plus includes all the basics inside and out and a 4.2-inch touchscreen for navigation and information, while the Prime Premium and Advanced models offer new 11.6-inch touchscreens. Prime Advanced also boasts a host of apps that allow the user to turn on the vehicle remotely, schedule charge times, and set interior climate conditions before getting in the driver’s seat.
With the Prime lineup, what you see if what you get: there are no factory options available. All three models have identical safety and security features, but the Prime Advanced does come loaded with a 3 year subscription to Toyota’s Safety Connect® service. Toyota has also decided to stick with industry standard plug-in charging tech, which should age well given the continuing growth of the EV charging grid.
This well-deserved update could not come at a better time for the Prius. The EV market is still young, but competition is getting fiercer by the day, and Toyota’s hybrid line has suffered lagging sales since 2012. While the Prius whirred quietly onto the scene at just the right time for consumers, now it will need to keep pace with up and coming models from heavy-hitting competitors in the field. Toyota’s dependable street cred has always been its greatest asset, but it remains to be seen whether the Prime’s balanced design will achieve the same following as Toyota’s cult-classic, the Camry.