The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Review: If you want to peek inside an alternate universe to see what everyone would be driving if gas prices weren’t so cheap right now, take a look at this car: the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime. It’s OPEC’s worst nightmare. This is the car that could see America go through an oil embargo relatively unscathed, assuming Toyota could ramp up production in time. Why is it so special? Because it makes gasoline completely unnecessary for around-town trips and is very inexpensive for long ones.
For now, though, in a period when sustained affordable gas prices make huge pickup trucks, crossovers and SUVs sell like caffeine-soaked hotcakes, the Prius Prime draws interest from a relatively small niche of eco-conscious buyers.
A 25-mile range under battery power means the Prius Prime won’t burn a drop of fuel for most people’s daily errands. And after that 25-mile range is used up, you’ve still got a gasoline engine that gets 55 mpg in the city and 53 on the highway, according to EPA ratings.
That means if King Salman decides to jack up our fuel prices, it’s no problem in the long term. We’ll all eventually buy Prius Primes and go about our lives in comfortable, if smaller, normalcy.
Yes, the comfort in this car was a pleasant surprise in my weeklong test. It’s comfortable from the driver’s standpoint, with strong, silent acceleration typical of the best electric cars so you never feel frightened on highway on-ramps. It’s also impressively quiet, smooth riding and reasonably roomy for passengers, even in the back seat.
One glaring downside, though, is the lack of a middle seat in back. The Prius Prime only has two seats back there, which is good for roominess but not very practical for some families who occasionally need to haul a fifth person around.
And while the styling is more stunning, I don’t think it drives quite as well as the new Chevrolet Volt, which has both a longer electric range and a more solid, substantial feel over the road. The Toyota’s Prius body lines, though, are much more appealing to me.
The Prius Prime and the Volt are both aiming to be “cars of the future,” but only one of them looks the part in my eyes. The Prius Prime, even more so than the ordinary Prius, has an exaggerated sense of futurism in its otherworldly lines.
I’m a particularly big fan of how the back end looks, too, with a dip in the middle of the tail that’s distinctive and unusual. I wish every car was designed so creatively. Inside, it’s just as eye-popping.
Keeping with its futuristic theme, it’s packed with more digital real estate than most cars. It has acres of LCD screens on the inside, including a gigantic, vertical, iPad-style touch screen that dominates the center stack.
While it’s certainly flashy, the digital interface doesn’t quite match the industry’s best work, currently a crown shared by Tesla and Volvo, in my view, but still may be the best I’ve seen at this price point. With pinch and zoom functionality, along with capacitive touch switches to the side, it’s instantly familiar to people who use tablets and smart phones.
As a whole, the Prius Prime is an incredible piece of engineering for people who want to burn less fuel and drive something futuristic. It looks and drives like a cutting-edge vehicle, because that’s exactly what it is.
I just feel sorry about Toyota’s unfortunate timing. If they had a crystal ball, they’d release a new Prius whenever gas prices are expensive and a new Tundra pickup when gas is cheap. With many years of lead time required and no way to reliably prophesy the direction of oil prices, it’s very possible Toyota will end up getting that order backward.
Pricing starts at $27,100 for the Prius Prime and ranges up to $33,100 for the more luxury-filled Advanced trim level.
Frustrating the Saudi royal family comes at no extra charge.
By Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
What was tested? The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced with a base price of $33,100. Options on the test car are: Paint protection film for $395, carpeted floor mats for $224, illuminated door sills for $299, 15-inch alloy wheels for $899, a universal tablet holder for $99, glass breakage sensor for $359 and alloy wheel locks for $65. The total MSRP price as tested including the $865 destination charge came to: $36,305
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length: 182.9 in.
Width: 69.3 in.
Height: 57.9 in.
Engine: 1.8-liter four cylinder (121 net hybrid system horsepower)
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy: 55 city, 53 highway
The Toyota Prius Prime Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
The Bottom Line: The 2017 Prius Prime’s futuristic style reflects the radical engineering beneath it, and it can wean drivers off buying gasoline too. It’s an electric car with a 25 mile range, but it also has a highly efficient hybrid gas power train that can go over 400 more miles before empty. Plus the Prius Prime’s cabin is equally forward-looking, now dominated by two digital screens for information and entertainment.
Why buy it? It can operate as an electric car, and has a very efficient hybrid gasoline power train for extended range. It’s a showcase of fuel-saving technology and style. And maybe, just for those reasons alone, you should “Drive one, Buy one, Today ©”. This Bottom Line Review is provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
“Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net - And remember: “You Are What You Drive ©”
Column Name: Angering Oil Barons
Topic: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime
Word Count: 1,003
Photo Caption: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime
Photo Credits: Toyota Prius Internet Media
Series #: 2017 - 09
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