2020 Toyota Prius Prime Limited charging and back end
Jeff Teague's picture

2020 Toyota Prius Prime Surprises with Incredible MPG and Features (with Video)

You may be interested in a 2020 Toyota Prius Prime for the gas mileage. You may be pleasantly surprised with much more.
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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?

2020 Toyota Prius Prime Limited Blue Magnetism profile view

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.

2020 Toyota Prius Prime Limited interior mpg

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).

2020 Toyota Prius Prime Limited Blue Magnetism interior ash gray front seats

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.

2020 Toyota Prius Prime Limited interior multimedia touch screen

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.

You really start to develop a charging routine at home though. I simply plugged it into my garage outlet when I got home from work and found 25 miles of usable electric drive time.

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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Comments

I totally accept that I, as an enthusiast, is who Toyota is targeting with the Prius. That said, I find the Prius a totally dull car, in need of a power infusion, and no, not a larger battery, more like some additional ponies under the hood. In all seriousness, does anyone think that Toyota would ever make a Prius Sport?
This car is clearly designed for prior Prius owners like me! I drove my 2011 Prius 8 blocks to work every day, and hated that the gas engine had to warm up for 5 minutes before electric driving was available. Now with my 2020 Prime I just go, no pollution, no gas! And this thing is a powerhouse compared to my regular Prius- I love the torque pull of the electric motor when I stomp it. I used to "hypermile" the 2011 to see crazy high mileage numbers- don't need that now. And the car is fun to drive, although quiet and smooth like a heavier automobile.
Since we started driving the Prius around 6/1/20 we have bought 10 gal of gas and driven about 3500 miles. This makes 350 MPGe. That includes a single 180 mile round trip. That makes a tank full last 3.5 months. Because we bought the Prius Jan 3 I have stabilized the fuel once. Had I bought a vehicle with a longer range I would definitely have to consider stabilizing the fuel. My max range so far is 34 miles. With the batteries discharged driving in hybrid mode I'm getting 60 mpg expressway and 75 mpg on country roads. BUT I don't often drive over 60 mph.
I purchased my 2020 Prius Prime on March 10. We were in lock down so we did not drive it anywhere that was over the 25 mile range for the first 90 days. So far this year, I have put over 11,000 miles on the car with lots of city and highway driving. My total average gas millage for that entire range (10,970 miles by August 20th) is 71.5 mpg -- using my calculator and the gas pump gallons read out. Right now, I have 3/8 of a tank and last gassed up 750 miles ago. I am currently seeing 135 mph on the display. It will go up as we have no trips planned for some time. I plug in at home and 99.5% of our trips around town are fully electric. My highest electric miles on the display after charging is about 31 miles. The farthest I drove electric only, was about 50 miles from Tehachapi to Bakersfield California -- mostly down hill. This is my third Prius and I love it. I especially getting a letter from Chevron in May saying that they noticed I was not using my Chevron card!
With a Prius Prime we can have just one car for town and longer trips. Use about 1 or 2 tanks of gas a year with EBikes doing some of the local trips. How much carbon emissions are saved not buying another car? Even a Tesla will have a huge carbon foot print if it is your second car.
I am searching high and low and still can't a single person post how they get the high gas mileage there are at least 3 different choices when you are dry driving after you charge your battery completely which do you select the EV the normal which won its not that hard to explain I guess I'm have to figure out myself and then post because everyone talks about it but no one says what position the car was in when getting that kind of gas mileage was an easy choice I am searching high and low and still can't a single person post how they get the high gas mileage there are at least 3 different choices when you are dry driving after you charge your battery completely which do you select the EV the normal which won its not that hard to explain I guess I'm have to figure out myself and then post because everyone talks about it but no one says what position the car was in when getting that kind of gas mileage was an easy choice was it in normal or what
I always drive in "ECO" mode because the car cruises without surging when steady-speed driving, even when I hit bumps. In "Normal" mode, which has higher throttle sensitivity, my family says it feels more like other cars. "PWR" mode shifts to lower gears (CVT apparent shifts) more aggressively. I'm not sure what Arthur means by "dry driving", but both the electric and gasoline/hybrid systems respond this way. I commonly get 62+ mpg in gas/hybrid mode, which I've come to use on the highway while driving in "ECO". This is unrelated to the state of hybrid charge reserved for "pure electric" driving. BTW, I'm currently getting about 33 miles of range around town when I use EV mode, and I toggle to Hybrid operation on highway runs.
I'd appreciate a fix in your article. You state the following: "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." This is not correct. MPGe is only the efficiency of the EV mode of the car, in other words, it is only measuring the efficiency of the car when it is traveling the 25 or so range of the prime's 8.8Kw battery. Yes... some vehicles start to mix the two values of the MPG and MPGe, in my opinion this is not helpful, it can be as it shows the two different propulsion motors efficiencies in one number... but it is not helpful, bc it should also note what percentage of the time it was in EV mode, or hybrid mode. At any rate, your explanation of MPGe for the prius prime comes up first when I google: "explaining prius prime mpge". Could you make the edit?