Having never driven any previous iteration of the Toyota Prius, any preconceived notions I had for the nameplate were dashed instantly when I first got behind the wheel, and not just because of the amazing mpg it offered.
While fleet managers will gush over the fuel savings that the Prius Prime will be able to provide (fuel costs are significant portion of fleet spend, after all), drivers will appreciate how pleasant it is to drive. If the fueling benefits aren't good enough, the additional updates Toyota made to the plug-in hybrid for the latest model make it a worthy asset, in its own right.
My first drive with the Prius Prime was spent navigating in all-electric mode, powered by a 8.8-kWh battery and available with 25 miles of range, which is roughly half the average range of my daily commute. I hardly noticed the transition from EV to its gas-electric hybrid powertrain (the engine went from silent to a soft rumble), and I was comfortable navigating it in either mode. The initial charge for the EV battery, which is 5.5 hours, fit well into the window of my typically workday.
Once EV mode was exhausted it switched to the hybrid powertrain, which offers a combined city/highway fuel economy of 54 mpg. Though I did often observe (via a dashboard indicator) an mpg average that was often much higher than 54, at one point managing to reach the 90 mpg mark.
After my time with the Prius Prime had ended, I would up spending less than $10 on gasoline on three days of moderate weekend driving. Under the hood, it's 1.8L four-cylinder gasoline engine is paired with two electric motors to achieve 121 hp and 105 lb.-ft. of torque, the Prius Prime offers a total range of 640 miles.
Fleets that have drivers who don't have to worry about lengthy daily commutes, and have easy access to EV charging stations, have a lot to appreciate in the Prius Prime.
Our sister publication, Fleet Forward, recently published an article that detailed why the Toyota Prius Prime offers the lowest TCO of any vehicle type.
New to the 2020 Model Year
Considering the fueling benefits, it can be easy to overlook some of the additional features that were added to the plug-in hybrid vehicle for the latest model year, which includes additional seating and new technological upgrades.
One of the most noteworthy is the addition of a fifth seat, which can allow fleet drivers more space to accommodate their peers or clients, as well as newly added USB ports for rear passengers for increased convenience. Other new standard connectivity features includes standard Apply Car Play, Amazon Alexa capabilities, and SiriusXM.
The Prius Prime doesn't skimp in the safety department either. Despite having already felt very confident navigating the vehicle without considering additional tech, Toyota's Safety Sense P offers a suite of ideal standard capabilities including Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection; Lane-Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Adaptive Cruise Control; and Automatic High Beams. The model I drove was also equipped with the optional Intelligent Parking Assist; Blind-Spot Monitor; and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. And while I did appreciate the assistance of the optional features, the consistent "beeping" these features emitted felt excessive, particularly during tight parallel parking scenarios.
There is also a new grade strategy for the Prius Prime, which is now available in LE, XLE, and Limited. The vehicle will carry a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $27,600 for the LE, $29,500 for XLE, and $33,500 for Limited.
2020 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV Specs
Engines: 1.8L 95 hp four-cylinder gasoline engine / 8.8-kWh battery electric motor (Combined 121 hp)
Transmissions: Electronic continuously variable automatic transmission
All-Electric Miles: 25
Originally posted on Automotive Fleet