ANALYSIS/OPINION:

What can car buyers expect from the Toyota Prius Prime that the base Prius just doesn’t offer? To begin there is a larger battery and that means more electric-range mileage. That’s an extra 25 miles to be exact. The battery is rechargeable by simply plugging it into a 120-volt wall socket just like you do your mobile phone.

It takes a little over five hours to recharge the battery with the 120-volt or, if you want to charge it quicker you can opt for a 240-volt battery charger and get the job done in about two hours.

A third option, drive the Prius Prime as a gasoline vehicle and you will still get better gas mileage than most drivers on the road. In fact, you will find the Prime offers even better gas mileage than the former version.

The Prime is replacing what was the Toyota Prius Plug-in and the competition for this new introduction includes the Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Trim Level Options

Going from a five-seater to a four-seater due to the increased needed space for the larger battery, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is available in the Plus, Premium and Advanced trim levels.

On the Plus you get a seven-inch multimedia screen, cloth seats, keyless entry and technology additions like Bluetooth and one USB port.

On the Premium there is a 11.6-inch screen with higher end multimedia functions, power driver seat, synthetic leather seats, automatic headlights and add to this trim level for technology a satellite radio and smartphone wire-free charging capability.

The Advanced trim has even more technology including a higher end audio system and more safety elements like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The steering wheel is heated and there is an auto-dimming mirror, remote climate control, rain-sensing wipers and a helpful semi-automatic parking function for your convenience.

Under the Hood

The 2017 Prius Prime has a hybrid synergy drive system with a four-cylinder engine and 1.8L DOHC 16V. The Toyota folks say you will save as much as $600 in fuel cost by driving the Prius Prime.

Safety First

On the 2017 Prius Prime Premium I drove there were the standard safety features as well as the Star Safety System with traction control, ABS, brake assist and smart stop technology. Airbags included a driver and front passenger airbag as well as a mounted side airbag in the front seat, side curtain and driver and front passenger knee airbags. There was the safety sensor feature and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams, engine immobilizer and a tire pressure system.

Interior and Exterior Highlights

Because the Prius Prime has a larger battery and seats one less passenger, the loading height of the vehicle’s cargo area was raised. The lost cargo space was made up by the Prius Prime length increase, which is 6.5 inches longer than the regular Prius with the majority of those inches having been added to the rear wheel area.

The drive is still quite comfortable and inside the materials used does the job for what Prius customers have come to expect. There is plenty of room in the front seat to spread out and enough small storage space to keep everything organized.

The knobs and buttons are easy to navigate, and all your needs are right at your fingertips.

There is a bit more road noise than would be expected, in regard to outside wind and the ride overall. Of course, the engine is stealth so no noise issues there.

Along for the Ride

Don’t expect to be racing around town in the 2017 Prius Prime. This is simply a vehicle meant to save you fuel or get you from one point to another in battery mode in comfort and style. With the extra battery weight there is a definite pull when driving, but there is no fear of not being able to maintain your speed during highway driving, get in and out of traffic when needed or get onto the highway with ease.

Should You Need to Know: Do take note that the larger battery weight makes the Prime a different driving experience than the base Prius offerings.

Miles: The 2017 Prius Prime Premium I drove had a 133 MPGe range and 54 miles per gallon when in gasoline mode.

Cost: The 2017 Prius Prime Premium I drove had a price tag of $30,060.

For more auto tips and information follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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