2017 Toyota Prius Prime
Bottom line: This column moves the Prius Prime to the top of the list for anyone shopping f ora gas-electric car — that’s traditional gaselectric hybrid or plug-in gas-electric hybrid. Ride, acceleration and handling: Itisa comfortable commuter—safe, efficient and pleasant to drive in daily urban and suburban traffic, an easy fit in high-speed highway traffic. Head-turningquotient: The exterior is supersporty, perhaps more than it ought or needs to be. I prefer the outside looks of the Kia Niro and Hyundai Ioniq here. But Toyota needs to be congratulated for working with JBL for designing and installing that 11.6-inch touch screen in the cabin.
Body style/layout: The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is a much-improved plug-in gas-electric hybrid that replaces its predecessor, the Prius Plug-in hybrid. It is front-wheel drive with four side doors and a rear hatch. There are three trim levels — Prime Plus, Prime Advanced and Prime Premium. This column recommends the all-inclusive Premium trim for best value. Power-system: It combines a plug-in electric motor (good for 25 miles electric-only) and a 1.8-liter, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder gasoline engine/generator with variable valve timing to yield an estimated 121 horsepower and combined city/highway 55 miles per gallon. It uses a continuously variable automatic transmission to send power to the front wheels.
Capacity: The larger lithium-ion battery will cost you one seat. The Prius Prime accommodates four people, as opposed to five in the regular Prius Hybrid. Carg oca pacity with all seats in place is 19.8 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 11.3 gallons of regular-grade gasoline. Mileage: I averaged 56.7 miles per gallon in city/highway driving! Safety: Standard equipment includes a full suite of advanced electronic safety items such as lane-departure warning and blind-side monitoring; four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front/solid rear; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; post- and pre-collision safety systems; traction and stability control; LED headlamps; and side and head air bags. Price: The 2017 Prius Prime at Premium trim level starts at $34,203, which includes an $895 factory-to-dealer shipping charge. Dealers in the area are offering an averag e of $1,203 in discounts. You can bargain on this one.