I had a chance to get a peak at the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plus last month at the TAWA event at Circuit of the Americas. The green advancements, safety technology and futuristic clean styling had me immediately smitten. After requesting a longer test drive on my own turf, the Prius did not disappoint me.
  • Interior
  • Exterior
  • Performance
  • Value
  • Personal Interest

 Exterior Features

The amount of work that went into the aerodynamic styling of this Hypersonic Red Prius is evident to me. Even the rear hatchback window has a beautiful curved dip down the center to minimize wind drag and maximize fuel-efficiency. This Prius has a patterned acrylic grille overlay with active grille shutter. What does that mean, you ask? It just means Toyota has engineered a stylish aerodynamic grille that allows for outside ventilation to the engine compartment. Standard on the Prime are Quad-LED projector headlights, available LED fog lights and accent lights. And everyone should know LED’s last longer and are more energy efficient.  For a compact car, it felt more like I was driving a sedan.

Needs improvement – Nothing.

Positive – I loved the aerodynamics of the car.

 Interior Features

With a seating capacity of 4, the interior cabin the Prius I had features light colors and materials, with Ash colored Softex Upholstery and Carbon Fiber everywhere! The Softex Upholstery looks and feels just like leather, but is said to last much longer than leather. The front seats are heated, a standard feature that is virtually inconsequential in Texas since we only have about 4 cold days a year. But when it is cold, that feature does come in handy.

The bulk of the dash cluster is center mounted (as opposed to driver mounted) and features a 11.6 inch HD touch-screen with split-screen display and integrated backup camera. From here, the driver and passenger can control the climate, music, GPS, Bluetooth and phone functions, infotainment system and the Entune® App Suite. You’ll also find a 12 volt port and 1 USB port right in the Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging space.  You can charge your Qi-compatible smartphone or other compatible device without wires or worry. Place it on the nonslip holder and charge up before getting to your destination.

Since most of the controls are center mounted, I found the available color Head-Up Display helped me focus on the important parts of driving while keeping my eyes on the road. The Head-Up Display uses aircraft-inspired technology to project information about your drive on the windshield, where it’s convenient to see. It displays the current speed, energy monitor, turn-by-turn navigation directions, battery charge, and Toyota Safety Sense™ (TSS) alerts — all without taking your eyes off the road.

The sound system didn’t disappoint. The available JBL® Premium Audio features ten JBL® GreenEdge™ speakers to amplify output from less energy. What you hear is clear sound imaging that will elevate the drive. You can also use the USB port or Bluetooth® hands-free wireless technology to bring your favorite playlist, and backup singers, along for the ride.

While I had great leg room in the front, we did have a tiny issue in the rear. The optional Universal Tablet Holder attached to the passenger head rest was in the way when my daughters would enter or exit the back cabin space. I attempted to remove it unsuccessfully. It could very well have been removable, but I was unable to figure it out for the time I had the car. While it could have been very useful on a long road trip, I think if we would have been able to detach it, the girls would have had plenty of space back there as well.

Prime’s 60/40 split fold-down rear seats fold to maximize cargo space and versatility. With 19.8 cu. ft. of space, it’s the largest cargo capacity in its class.

Needs improvement – Make the universal tablet holder removable or easy to remove.

Positive – I loved the interior styling, colors, and soft-touch upholstery.

Technology & Safety features

It’s going to be hard to cover all the technology that’s packed into this compact hybrid. I’m making a conscious effort  not to completely geek out on you. I’m just going to touch on a few of my favorite Driver Safety features.

This Prius came with a back-up camera, Intelligent Parking Assist, GPS Navigation System (which I still use all the time), Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Toyota Safety Sense System which includes multiple features like Pedestrian Detection with Automatic Braking, Lane departure alert with steering assist, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control with full stop technology and automatic high beams, blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

Lane departure alert with steering assist – If an inadvertent lane departure is detected and there are visible lane markings, the Lane Departure Alert system will issue both an audible alert and visual warning on the MID screen. If the system determines that the driver is not taking corrective steering action, the Steering Assist function will initiate and provide gentle corrective steering when necessary to help keep the vehicle in the lane.

Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection helps keep the road safe by detecting a vehicle or a pedestrian in certain situations. By combining millimeter-wave radar with a camera capable of shape recognition, the system provides an audio/visual alert warning you of a possible collision with a pedestrian under certain circumstances. If you don’t react, automatic braking support helps mitigate the potential for a collision.

When a vehicle in the next lane enters your vehicle’s blind spot on either side, the available Blind Spot Monitor is designed to illuminate the indicator in that sideview mirror. If you continue to signal a lane change to that lane, the indicator will flash to get your attention.

In Reverse, Prime’s available Rear CrossTraffic Alert uses sensors to detect vehicles approaching from either side. If the system senses cross traffic, it warns you by flashing the side mirror indicators and sounding a warning tone.

Positive – It does everything except steer the wheel for the whole drive.

Needs improvement – I want it to steer the wheel for me. LOL.

Engine features

I’ll admit, I don’t pretend to care much about horsepower and torque. And in a compact hybrid, those numbers don’t mean much anyway. So, I’ll just spit out the data for you:

  • Horsepower – 121 horsepower
  • Transmission – 1.8-liter 4-cylinder
  • Torque – 105 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm

Needs improvement – Battery only EV mode range was only about 25 miles.

Positive – The engine was very responsive and didn’t handle like you would think a hybrid would.

 

Fuel MPG data

MPG (Gas only)

MPGe (electric & gas)

EPA Estimated Total driving range (miles)

With 3 innovative driving modes to choose from, EV Auto, EV, and Hybrid mode, and the use of the available Intelligent Drive Couch, owning a Prius Prime Plus will help anyone decrease your carbon footprint.

Estimated annual fuel cost (US $)

Potential savings in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle (US $)

MSRP  As Tested

Base Price (US $)

Full Options Price (US $)

Comparison Against Competitive Cars

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plus

2017 Ford Fusion Energi SE Luxury

2017 Chevrolet Volt Premier

2017 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid Base

Comparably Equipped Price (US $)

Comparably Equipped Price (US $)

Comparably Equipped Price (US $)

Comparably Equipped Price (US $)

In Conclusion

We loved every single second of being in the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Plus!

All photos provided by Toyota and GearBoxTV.