2017 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Toyota kicked off the hybrid car market early in the 1990s with the Prius. However, the automaker has since been overtaken by other automakers. To try to capture back the crown, Toyota launched the Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid in 2012 but the model was a huge failure.  The model did not sell many units as anticipated. At the time, the model had a mere 11 miles range on electric power alone and despite this, it had a significantly higher price tag compared with the regular Prius on which it was and is still based. The automaker has since learned from the mistake and is slowly trying to upgrade the 2017 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid into a real world-beater. Read along to find out more on what the automaker is offering with the second generation of the model:

2017 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Exterior

The plug-in hybrid is 2.4 inches longer as well as 0.6 inches wider than the outgoing model. For 2017, the model has received an upgrade on its front fascia to set it apart from non-plug-in Prius models. The fascia features deeper creases while thin LED headlights now flank the grille. There is no protruding “fish lip” as is the case with the regular Prius models.

At the rear, the model features a revised spoiler, which is integrated with wraparound LED taillights. This has added a dose of modern aura and some unique identity to the model.

The structure and body panels are made of high-strength steel while its hood is made of aluminum; carbon fiber is used for its liftgate. This has greatly helped save weight. The model has enhanced aerodynamics including automatic grille shutters. The model is one of the most aerodynamic hybrids out there with a 0.2 coefficient of drag.

The model’s COG is also lower. This is because the designers moved the battery from the trunk to beneath the rear seats while front occupants now seat lower.

2017 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Interior

The interior styling is a bit of a letdown from Toyota.  Rival models from Volkswagen, Audi and BMW are well equipped, look more upmarket, and most importantly don’t cost a lot more than the Prius Plug-in hybrid.

At the front, the model features an 8.0-inch infotainment screen compared to the regular Prius 7.0-inch unit. However, the screen’s graphics and menus look rather plain and a bit confusing. For 2017, the model will accommodate only four passengers rather than five in the outgoing models. This is because the middle rear seat has been removed to accommodate the more complicated electrical circuitry of the new battery. Headroom is also tight just as in the regular Prius. Rival models offer more headroom and legroom. This is an area Toyota should have considered for the new model but yet again, the automaker has chosen to ignore customer views.

The model’s cargo space has also reduced to accommodate the bigger battery.  The space can, however, be improved albeit slightly by folding the rear seats. There is a special compartment at the rearmost part of the cargo space to store the model’s charging cable.

Engine Specs and performance

Toyota has overhauled the plug-in’s drive-train. The automaker has added a new 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery in place of the much smaller nickel-metal-hydride battery on the standard mill. The battery is supported by a sophisticated high-voltage circuit system that channels power to two electric motors. Backing the battery is a 1.8 L, Atkinson Cycle petrol engine. Due to the new changes, the drive-train produces 103 hp up from 72 hp in the EV mode. On this mode, the model can reach a top speed of 84 mph and has an all-electric range of 39 miles.

The gasoline mill and the electric motors produce 121 hp that powers the model t accelerate to 60 mph from standstill in 11.1 seconds. This is much less from what BMW offers (250 hp) with their 330e, which costs slightly more than the Prius. The beemer is faster, reaching 60 mph in only 6.1 seconds.

However, to support their model, Toyota argues that the common Prius Plug-in buyer is interested in its fuel economy more than the power it produces. Truth to be told, in this regard, the Prius Plug-in is commendable producing a whopping 283mpg. This is courtesy of the drive-train as well as the innovative gas-injection system for the air conditioner, solar panel roof and a battery warning system which all combine to conserve energy for the model.

Price and release date

I think at a price of £35,000 ($43,500), one gets much less compared to what rivals offer for almost a similar price. I even think that the standard Prius that costs £24,000 ($29,900) provides more value for money than its plug-in hybrid sister. For now, Toyota can get away with it but it won’t be for long unless they improve the model’s offering.

Competition

The 2017 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid competes with Audi’s A3 e-Tron, Volkswagen’s Golf GTE and BMW’s 3 Series 330e.

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