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Prius Prime PHEV pricing to start at $27,100; on sale later this year

The Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, unveiled at the 2016 New York International Auto Show in March (earlier post), features a larger 8.8 kWh battery pack for twice the electric range of its predecessor, as well as some enhancements to its powertrain, including a Toyota-first dual motor generator drive system. This uses both the electric motor and the generator for drive force, helping to boost acceleration performance.

The 2017 Prius Prime offers an EPA-estimated 133 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent)—a substantial 26% enhancement over its predecessor model, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, as a result of greater battery capacity and the improved hybrid system. The EPA-estimated all-electric range is up to 25 miles at up to 84 mph. In hybrid mode, the Prius Prime exceeds all competitors’ fuel economy ratings with EPA-estimated 55 city/53 highway/54 combined MPG. Pricing starts at $27,100.


To help make extended EV mode driving range possible using Hybrid Synergy Drive, Toyota modified the system. For the first time in a Toyota hybrid, the system uses a “dual motor drive.” Toyota didn’t add another motor, however. Rather, a new one-way clutch engages both the generator (MG1) and electric drive motor (MG2) for drive force, the first time MG1 has been used for that purpose. Regenerative braking recaptures electrical energy under deceleration and braking and stores it in the battery, which helps to reduce fuel consumption.

The 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, 4-cylinder engine, used in all 2017 Prius liftback models, reaches 40%-plus thermal efficiency. The engine features a very high compression ratio of 13.0:1, yet runs on regular-grade gasoline. A number of details throughout the hybrid powertrain contribute to its efficiency, including an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system with a cooler; a smaller, lighter, quieter hybrid system water pump, and an exhaust heat recirculation system that speeds engine warm-up.

The combined net output for the Prime’s hybrid system is 121 hp. The effect of the electric motor and the planetary-type continuously variable transmission give the Prius Prime a responsive attitude in urban driving.

The Prius Prime remains a quiet cruiser in all drive modes due to the sound-insulating laminated windshield and front door glass, comprehensive sound insulation measures and the optimized aero shape.

All Prius models are built around Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) and feature double-wishbone independent rear suspension. Exclusive suspension tuning gives the Prime an enhanced planted stance through curves.

TNGA strength greatly contributes to the level of handling responsiveness, steering feel and ride quality in the Prius Prime. Hot-stamped and high tensile steels, which allow for intricate forms that are both lightweight and strong, are used extensively throughout the body. Aluminum components, including the hood and brake calipers, help keep vehicle weight in check. Innovative fastening methods, including laser screw welding and advanced adhesives, contribute to structural strength.

Additional weight savings come from a Toyota-made lightweight carbon-fiber rear hatch.

The climate control system runs very quietly due to an electric compressor. Toyota calls the system “smart-flow,” because it focuses airflow only to areas where occupants are seated in order to help maximize fuel economy and comfort.

The Prius Prime ensures both a comfortable cabin temperature and optimal EV performance in cold weather. The climate control system can also operate without the engine running, with a heat pump that allows the system to cool or heat the cabin while driving in EV mode.

The heat pump can function without the engine running in weather down to 14 ˚F, where a conventional heat pump system could only function with the temperature above 32 ˚F. On cold days, a battery warmer activates at the end of a charge to keep the battery temperature above 32 ˚F, ensuring that it can deliver optimal EV performance and range when the vehicle is started. On the top-line Prius Prime Advanced model the driver can activate the remote air conditioning system with a key fob or smartphone app to cool the interior before entering the cabin.

Grade strategy. Toyota’s grade strategy for Prius Prime includes grades, Prime Plus, Prime Premium and Prime Advanced, each with successively more amenities and technology.

In addition to numerous other technology amenities, the Prime Advanced offers Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Safety Connect, which includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification. (Includes complimentary three-year trial subscription).

Standard Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) with Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) uses ultrasonic wave sensors to size up a parallel parking space and then, when activated by the driver, can steer the car into it. The system can also reverse the vehicle into a perpendicular space and automatically steer it out of a parallel space. If you drive into a tight spot, such as a narrow alley or driveway, Intelligent Clearance Sonar provides visible and audible warnings if you get too close to obstacles on the vehicle’s sides.

2017 Prius Prime MSRP
Prius Prime Plus $27,100
Prius Prime Premium $28,800
Prius Prime Advanced $33,100
All prices listed above exclude the Delivery, Processing, and Handling (DPH) fee.



Sounds great, except you can only get 2 people in the back seat.
It would be nice if they offered say a 7.7 KwH version with a full back seat. (some chance)
And also a Fiat 500 with 3 seat belts across the back.

Roger Pham

Well, as you can see, there is enough room for 5 seats, but the load capacity reduction due to the much heavier 8.8-kWh battery pack vs the 0.75-kWh battery pack of HEV Prius would not safely permit carrying 5 typical adult Americans nor Europeans.

The curb weight of the Prime is 1510 kg, or 3322 lbs.
The weight of a Prius level 2 is 3,075 lbs. The weight difference is 247 lbs, and as much as 300 lbs, depending on trim level and optional equipments.
It would not be economical to alter the Prius Prime body, chassis and suspension drastically to accept this much weight difference for a much smaller production volume of the Prime, hence the reduction in passenger capacity,in order to keep the price of the Prime to competitive level.

Furthermore, with more weight on the rear wheels than on the front wheels, you will have problem with oversteer on a high-G turn which will lead to loss of control, even when you install bigger springs on the rear axle. Plus, Toyota will have to redo crash testing and other safety certifications following major alterations in max gross weight rating and weight distribution, which will be expensive for the low production number associated with typical Plug-in EV's. May not pass crash testing, which may necessitate re-enforcement of the frontal structures...more weight and cost.

A solution for making a 5-seat Prius PHEV is to save 150 lbs in the front axle by using a much smaller and lighter engine from the Toyota Aygo, a 3-cylinder 1-liter Atkinson cycle, capable of 70 hp with 37% thermal efficiency, and to move the battery pack to under the front two seats, to reduce weight on the rear axle. A further 43 lbs of weight can be saved in the rear axle by reducing the fuel tank from 11 gallons down to 5.5 gallons, for a total of 193 lbs of weight reduction. This will permit 3 adult passengers on the rear seat with a full 27 cu-ft of trunk space.


A world leading 133 mpge PHEV for $27,000 is more than expected and a top vehicle from Toyota.

I tried the new Prius HEV, capable of 40 mph on electricity only, and were very favourably impressed.

Both high quality 56 mpg Prius HEV and the 133 mpge Prius PHEV models will be very good sellers and contribute to lower GHG and less pollution.

Dr. Strange Love

Sounds impressive overall. Roger, your argument makes sense.


Roger, reduce the gas tank from 11 gallons to 5 gallons to save 43lbs? Really? So those commuting any distance would need to purchase gas every day? We can always choose to leave the tank half empty when just putting around the neighborhood!


I wonder if the aggressive styling has hurt the aerodynamics. The current Prius has a Cd of .25


Looks very cool. Been wanting to buy a Prius for a while. It seems like Toyota's tough screen interface system is still lagging behind and still looks generic in my opinion.


All I wanted was a smaller battery and the ability to seat 3 people across the back.
It is a pity they couldn't have a weight check which would bleat if 3 heavy people sat in, but allow 3 lighter people. (The way it does if you don't fasten a seatbelt).
I have children at ~ 84 lbs each so I think I could easily fit 3 of them across the back seat.


I heard from the new car sales manager at a local Toyota dealership that Gulf States Toyota distributorship will not be selling the Prius Prime to their dealers. Has anyone got verification on that? Tried to buy one, but they are not available. The dealer was not able to take an order or deposit.

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