Review by Veeno Dewan

The 2021 Prius Prime is the plug-in version of Toyota’s popular hybrid. A four -door hatchback with the proprietary Toyota Synergy hybrid synergy system. The main difference between the regular Prius and the Prius Prime PHEV is that the Prius is a conventional hybrid – with no plug in recharge options.  The Prime on the other hand is a tad more technologically advanced plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that can be recharged from domestic electric mains and can run in either EV, EV Auto, or Hybrid modes. The Prime offers a very impressive combined fuel consumption and The Prius Prime battery can be easily recharged in a standard 120-volt household outlet very which takes approximately 5.5 hours, or in approximately two hours in a 240-volt outlet.

The Prius has a unique design – a very Japanese Manga futurist look that shouts out advanced electric hybrid technology. It look like nothing else on the road, but it’s not just show. The wind cheating design has an ultra-low 0.24 coefficient of drag, and features automatic grille shutters that reduces aerodynamic drag further.

For 2021, the Prius Prime gets an upgraded safety system. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, Toyota’s active safety and driver-assistance suite is also improved for 2021 with features like pre-collision alert with pedestrian and bicyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, full-speed radar cruise control, and lane-departure warning with steering assist. All Prius Prime models have Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa integration.

The Prius Prime features a 95-horsepower, 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with a 71-horsepower permanent-magnet AC synchronous motor, which not only helps drive the front wheels but also provides regeneration under braking. The transmission is via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The Prius has a larger 8 kWh battery than its other Prius siblings, at 8.8 kWh, enabling the Prius Prime to travel up to 40 kilometers on electricity alone. (Subject to ambient conditions and driving style.)  Oh! By the way the battery comes with ten year battery warrantee for peace of mind.

The compact interior is comfortable and equally unique as the exterior. There is a huge 11.6 inch high-resolution centrally mounted screen similar to the one included in a Tesla or a Volvo. All Prius Prime buyers receive heated front seats and steering wheel, automatic climate controls, twin USBs for rear seat passengers, and an auto-sensing driver’s door-locking system. Moving up to the Upgrade version adds the aforementioned huge vertical screen with navigation, a power driver’s seat, and wireless device charging. The Prime has a new, available third seat in the rear two extra USB ports have also been added for the rear Because of its larger battery, the cargo floor is higher and limits space. Also note the rear seats do fold to open up extra space.

Tick the $3,000 Technology package box, and you gain  a head-up display, radar parking assistance, rain sensing wipers, a 10-speaker JBL audio system, and Toyota’s Intelligent Parking Assist system (and plus blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert. Active safety features are comprehensive with the Prius Prime receiving a top 5 Star U.S IIHS and NHTSA 5 crash safety ratings. Dynamic cruise control, an active emergency braking system with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning with steering assist are all featured.

On the road, the Prime is smooth, quiet and has an upmarket ride. Steering is quick and requires little efforts. With its gas/electric powertrain, this Toyota is quick off the line. Passing power is adequate, through the gasoline engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Various driving modes are also available, including a Power setting for when you need more grunt and an Eco mode when you want to be as fuel miserly as possible. In addition to the standard Drive mode, there is a B-transmission setting that increases regenerative braking.

One of the best things about the Prius Prime is its total range. With a full tank of gasoline and a full charge, it is estimated to be able to travel over 1000 Kilometres. Fuel Economy is rated at: (Regular Gasoline in L/100 km) City: 4.3/Highway: 4.4/Combined: 4.3. If you have short commute less than 40 kilometers – it is possible to drive on electric power alone charge it up at your workplace and return home without on EV Mode – not using any fuel at all!

Niggles include the annoying beeping in Reverse, limited EV range in sub-zero temperature and the lack of rear wiper. Also that fancy touch screen has some glare issues. However the Prius Prime’s specification, performance and overall marks cancel out the downsides… The starting price is very attractive when you adds on the federal and provincial government rebates and breaks for EV and Hybrid vehicles. Highly recommended.

2021 Prius Prime PHEV:  Priced from $33,150

More info at www.toyota.ca