The Toyota Prius remains a remarkably efficient hatchback, the 2022 Toyota Prius Prime hybrid hatchback knows where its strengths lie, and it leans into them heavily. Some buyers just want to get to and from work without a fuss, to keep costs down while they do so that they can spend money on things that really matter. However sticking to a budget does not mean settling for low quality. Many will likely ask if the Toyota Prius Prime is really worth the extra $4k. It shares almost all the same infrastructure with its sibling, including powertrain, as well as similar infotainment and safety features. But what sets it apart is its plug-in nature. Without relying on regenerative brakes, the Prime can run purely on electric power between recharges, for up to 25 miles.
The wedge-shaped design aims to maximize fuel economy. Due to its semi-electric nature, there is no need for a large grille, so it gets a solid front fascia instead. The slim headlights sweep up the hood in a series of LED clusters. The rear is more angular, with a hatch framed by brake light strips. The cabin isn’t on the cramped side, those up front have no reason to complain, while the back row is technically designed to seat three, that is only applicable in the case of small children. The sloping roof of the hatch cuts into headroom, and legroom is at a premium if those in the front do not pull forward a bit. When all is said and done, though, a family of four should fit comfortably in the midsize without too much fuss. Although it may look like a sedan, the Prius Prime is a hatchback and it offers a fair amount of trunk space that boasts a capacity of 19.8 cubic feet. Furthermore, the rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split to make even more room for bulkier cargo. Another good feature is Toyota provides complimentary maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles which is better than most in this segment.
Regardless of trim, the Toyota Prius draws its power from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine, a lithium-ion battery, and a pair of electric motors. The gas engine produces 95 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque on its own. Together, this plug-in-hybrid powertrain produces 121 horsepower. This is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). On the plus side, this CVT is innocuous when compared to many on rival machines, and it helps to keep acceleration smooth, if not quick. The electric motors supply instant torque, helping this car launch quickly from a stop and acceleration is smooth at low speeds. Performance is not a word readily associated with the Prius, this is not a car meant to get you excited about driving. Instead, the joy comes at the end of the month, when you realize just how much you saved at the bowser on your monthly traveling expenses. But, if your commute to and from the office is less than 25 miles, you won’t even need to put the combustion engine to work at all.
Steering is light, as you would expect from a town car, making for easy maneuvering on the street or in the parking lots. The suspension does a relatively good job of dulling most minor bumps and abrasions. The 2022 Prius Prime gets an EPA estimated combined city/highway rating of 54 mpg and 133 MPG-equivalent and this vehicle also has an all-electric range of 25 miles. When you add all these numbers together, and take into account the 11.4-gallon tank, the Toyota can travel for up to 640 miles before making a pit stop. With a 120-volt household-style power outlet, it takes around 5.5 hours to recharge this Toyota. Upgrading to a 240-volt outlet charges it in roughly half that time (around two hours and 10 minutes).
The top-of-the-line Limited (our test vehicle) starts at $34,000. Like most semi-electric autos, the Limited comes outfitted with an impressive array of technology, right from the get-go. You get a multi-information display, but it is the driver-assistance features that stand out the most, as the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite includes lane departure alert, lane tracing assist, and pre-collision avoidance. Additions include a heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a head-up display, front and rear parking sensors, park assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. There are soft-touch surfaces on the panels and dashboard, overall, everything has a premium feel. In our Limited model the 11.6-inch touch screen infotainment features HD Radio, a 10-speaker JBL stereo, navigation, and wireless device charging. However standard features include proximity keyless entry and push-button start, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot, three USB ports and compatibility with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa.
Where the hybrid may fail to dazzle on a number of fronts like performance, gas mileage is certainly not one of them. The Toyota Prius Prime is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the hybrid and electric car class, but that’s not where its appeal ends. This plug-in hybrid provides 25 miles of all-electric range, a smooth ride, poised handling, and plenty of cargo space and it’s loaded with safety features too.