There is a lot of talk lately in the world of Toyota about hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles. Of course, we have the launch of 2021 RAV4 Prime that is already a huge conversation piece. The 2021 Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle looks stunning as well.
Yes, Toyota plans to sell at least 25% of its vehicles as either pure hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles by the year 2025. This aggressive rollout plan should result in much higher fuel estimates for vehicles and gas savings for owners.
I have recently been reviewing one of these vehicles, the 2020 Prius Prime. I came into this particular evaluation with my mind locked in on mpg, but what I came away with was so much more.
How does 2020 Prius Prime work?
To me Prius Prime is really two vehicles in one. Let me explain.
A traditional Toyota hybrid operates using a gasoline engine in combination with electric motors (usually two or three). Prius Prime, however, also allows owners to plug in their car and charge it. This results in all-electric driving time that uses no gasoline up to a certain number of miles.
RAV4 Prime will work in a similar fashion.
A 2020 Prius Prime uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. This produces 121 net system horsepower. It has an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission and uses a lithium-ion hybrid battery.
Since it can be plugged in too, Prius Prime provides fuel efficiency numbers I am not used to seeing in a traditional gasoline powered sedan.
2021 Prius Prime MPG and Charging
You can expect to see fuel economy results of 54 mpg combined (55 in the city and 53 on the highway). That is, if you drive it like a traditional Prius without utilizing the provided power cord.
When you take advantage of its charging capabilities, Prius Prime boasts estimates of 133 MPGe. This rating score combines hybrid mpg with electric use benefits.
VIDEO EXTRA: How does Prius Prime charging actually work? Find out in my video review.
So how does charging work? It is actually quite simple. Look for any grounded 120V wall outlet at home or work and connect the included extra-long cord from your Prius Prime to the outlet.
The entire charging process takes 5 ½ hours or less to fully charge with 120V and 2 hours and 10 minutes with an upgraded Level 2 charger.
The benefit of a fully charged 2020 Prius Prime to you is up to 25 miles of all-electric drive time. No gasoline at all. This is huge for people who work less than 25 miles from home or parents who carpool kids to school and drive around town. Imagine the gasoline savings if you drive strategically and capitalize on this all-electric mode.
One important tip here. Using the air conditioning affects how far you can drive in all-electric mode. Your multi-information display will show how far you can drive without air conditioning on, and how far with the system on. It is only a small change but is still worth noting.
Road trippers will like the total driving range. With strong fuel estimates and a fuel tank capacity of 11.4 gallons, people can go a long way before refueling. Families can drive up to 640 miles on one single tank of fuel.
Road trip anyone?
2020 Toyota Prius Prime Specs
Prius Prime is listed as a five-passenger vehicle. It was updated for the 2020 model year to add a third seat in the back row. People buying a 2019 or older Prius Prime will find it only seats four people. Big changes are seen on 2020 Prius Prime vs 2019.
Big benefit for the 2020.
VIDEO BONUS: Take a tour of 2020 Prius Prime features, specs, exterior and interior.
I drove the 2020 Prius Prime Limited. It is available in LE, XLE and Limited. I applaud Toyota for going with a grade strategy that is familiar to Toyota fans and owners.
The two-tone ash gray SofTex seats were very comfortable and provided good spine and back support. I really was surprised at how much rear seat legroom there was (33.4 inches).
Toyota Prius looks so small on the outside but is more spacious on the inside than you would think.
As a technology geek, I had fun getting to know the oversized 11.6-inch multimedia touch screen. I joked with my wife that it looks like an iPad that is flipped vertically.
I found the touch controls for basic functions like audio, air conditioning and navigation were easy to learn and use.
One drawback for many people will be the lack of Android Auto compatibility. Apple CarPlay is standard on all levels and is extremely easy to use.
Android Auto is standard on the incoming 2021 Prius Prime, on the LE trim level.
2020 Toyota Prius Prime Review
Prius Prime is not a fast vehicle to drive, nor is it meant to be. It was designed for fuel efficiency and comfort.
One equalizer to improve acceleration is PWR mode. This gives you more responsive boosts of speed and is especially useful when pulling out into heavy traffic, going up a hill and getting on a highway ramp as you get up to your max cruising speed.
VIDEO COMPARISON: Compare all 2020 Prius Prime trim levels in my video review.
It will be interesting to see how this compares in real-time speed to the 2021 RAV4 Prime that offers 302 horsepower. I wonder who would win in a race.
My impression is that 2020 Prius Prime drives smooth and is relatively quiet, even at highway cruising speeds. It handles well around country road curves and with bumps in the road, probably due to its rear independent multi-link suspension.
Gas mileage was interesting to me. I tried driving it many ways. Sometimes I would drive it conservatively and would see results of 476 MPGe. Other times I would drive it more like a “leadfoot” driver and would get around 115 MPGe.
The trick for me was finding a 120V outlet at my work that I could use for 5+ hours. When I did, I was using no gasoline for both my morning and afternoon commutes. When all available outlets were taken, I would see lower mpg since I was using more gas.
Time for your thoughts on 2021 Prius Prime
Do you currently own a Toyota Prius or Prius Prime? What is your experience so far and what type of mpg are you getting?
How far can you drive your Prius Prime on electric only?
Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I compare RAV4 Hybrid vs RAV4 gasoline models.
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