It is hard to believe that the Toyota Prius has been around for almost 20 years (in Japan, the vehicle was on sale over 20 years ago!). But there is a reason for its longevity: The Prius is a gas saver. Even in today’s world of $2 gasoline, paying less at the pump always feels good. Moreover, the Prius has proven to be thoroughly reliable. Even the first-generation models can still be found on the road, happily performing their commuting duties.
People originally worried about the battery life expectancy of the new hybrid powerplant, but it is the aftermarket to the rescue – when dealerships are charging exorbitant fees for replacement batteries after the warranty expires, the aftermarket comes through with specialists who can isolate and replace the broken cells in the OEM battery pack. In other words, don’t let future maintenance costs sway you from purchasing a Prius.
What do you get when you step up to the Toytoa Prius Prime? The Prime is similar in size to the regular Prius, but only offered as a plug-in hybrid. It also only has seating for four (a rear passenger center console separates the two seats) coupled to some nice exterior body lines that set it apart from the regular Prius. The Prime does look more special, and the MSRP clocks in at a few thousand dollars more. Whereas the Prius C is the entry-level, the Prime can be best described as the souped-up millennial version.
Since the Prime is a plug-in hybrid and you have the facility of a garage where you can plug it in every night, the vehicle will return the favor. You’ll get about 25 miles of electric-only range. Theoretically, if your commute is within 20 miles of the house, Sheetz will not be your friend. You will not have to visit the gas station except for longer trips.
The only downside is that the extra battery power does encroach on the trunk space compared to the regular Prius, but up front, you’ll get the largest infotainment system display this side of a Tesla. Yes, your friends will be amazed at the size of the monster 11” vertical display. However, there is a drawback: The display can get washed out in direct sunlight. The aftermarket to the rescue again – window tint on the vehicle would make perfect sense not only to reduce glare, but also to keep the cabin cooler. This can help maximize your electric-only range by reducing a/c use.
The other minor issue with the display is that, although it is large, it is not Apple CarPlay– or Android Auto-compatible. We bet we will see some interface solutions from the aftermarket in the future that will remedy that omission.
On the audio end, the JBL sound system features 10 speakers and overall sounds good. However, once you go past ¾ volume, the bottom end does not have the punch to keep up with the rest of the system as James B. Lansing intended. Although the trunk space in the Prius Prime is already truncated by the large battery pack, a good installation technician can design a box for a 10-inch subwoofer that would rectify the problem. Then all you need is an amplifier with a built-in OEM integration device for signal to feed the subwoofer.
Overall, the Prius Prime is perfect for someone in their late 20s or early 30s who has access to a garage to plug it in. The looks set it apart from the regular Prius, and the slick interior with large display screams innovation. A few tweaks from a good aftermarket retailer and the Prius Prime is ready for prime time!