Kicking things off at the New York International Auto Show's press days, Toyota revealed the plug-in version of its redesigned fourth-generation Prius. The new PHEV has a redesigned 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery and a Toyota-first dual motor generator drive system to provide improved performance and extended electric-only range compared to the previous Prius PHEV. It also gets a new name – Prius Prime – and distinctive front and rear styling to distinguish it from its non-plug-in stablemate. At the front, a blacked-out centre section combines with quad-LED headlights and deep creases to give the car an edgy look, while at the back a wraparound LED taillight design is built into the spoiler.
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Mechanically, the Prime will continue to use the same 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine and CVT automatic as the regular Prius. The new dual motor generator system allows it to use both the electric drive motor and the generator for driving force, improving acceleration. The battery can be charged in 5.5 hours from a standard 120V household outlet, and about half that time using a 240V outlet. Electric-only range is nearly doubled compared to the previous-generation Prius PHEV at 35 km (with an electric-only top speed of 135 km/h) and Toyota is projecting a combined city/highway rating of 120 MPGe, which works out to about 1.96 L/100 km. Combined range with a full tank (42.7L) is 966 km.
First Drive: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime
Inside, the Prime gets added premium touches and exclusive tech features compared to the standard Prius, such as standard heated front seats and Entune premium audio. Available features include an 11.6-inch HD infotainment screen, head-up display, parking assist, blind spot monitor, and Toyota's Safety Sense suite of collision avoidance technologies, which add a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control.
The Prius Prime will be arriving in dealerships in the late fall as a 2017 model.