2018 Toyota Prius Prime

A reliable and efficient hybrid
By Durhl Caussey, Epoch Times Contributor
August 24, 2018 Updated: August 24, 2018

Toyota’s Prius is a hybrid for everyone. After nearly two decades of reliable and environmentally friendly driving, the Prius has definitely established its reputation as a hybrid. It has become one of the most dependable vehicles in Toyota’s fleet of fine cars.

The Prius traditionally relied on regenerative braking to charge the battery. The Prime model is a plug-in variant, allowing the owner to charge the battery from wall outlets.

Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system draws power from a lithium-ion battery pack to drive a permanent magnet synchronous motor, which complements a 1.8 L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i). The gas engine produces 95 horsepower (71 kW) at 5,200 rpm and 105 lb.-ft. (142 N*M) of torque at 3,600 rpm. The electric motor boosts the net power output to 121 horsepower.

The gasoline and electric power is regulated through an electronically controlled continuous variable transmission (ECVT), and the driver can switch between EV, ECO, and Power modes.

All this complicated engineering goes toward cutting gas consumption, and the end result is 132 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) in pure electric mode, and 54 mpg in gas-electric hybrid mode.

The double wish-bone style multi-link rear suspension helps subdue the bumps, allowing for a smooth, exhilarating ride. The 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels willingly tackle any kind of road condition you choose to challenge.

Standing outside, you can’t help but notice the edgy LED tail lights that shine so brightly yet foster such stylish good looks. Meanwhile, at the front, quad LED headlights and integrated fog lights provide the driver with excellent visibility. A sporty rear spoiler makes for a smart appearance from the back.

The interior of the 2018 Prius Prime. (Courtesy of Toyota)

Inside, a dual 4.2-inch color multi-info-display complements the available 11.6-inch multimedia touchscreen. This tablet-like touchscreen is the centerpiece of the JBL 10-speaker sound system with navigation, Entune, App Suite, backup camera, and Bluetooth. And true to the initial impression, it supports pinch, zoom, tap, and swipe gestures just like a tablet.

The heads-up display right above the steering wheel on the windshield is “aircraft-inspired technology” that provides information like your speed, hybrid system indicator information, and turn-by-turn directions.

On the dash there’s a clock about the size of a half dollar. While artfully crafted, it is much too small and ornate to provide much help—even with an extended look, it remains hard to read.

The cabin is smartly designed and has plenty of room to stretch out your legs comfortably, with 42.3 inches front and 33.4 inches rear legroom. The design of the 60/40 split back seat contributes to this roominess. There is large open space in front of the gear shift lever, plus storage pockets and soda holders located in the door. The handy 19.8-cubic-foot cargo area is great for larger items.

For me this week, the most important feature in the Prius was the Smart-Flow climate control system. Just set the desired temperature and watch the climate control quickly bring the temperature to a comfortable level.

Prius has numerous advanced safety features that are usually found in more upscale cars, which may even cost extra. Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) is standard and includes items like lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beam, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control.

The 2018 Toyota Prius Prime’s aerodynamic design wrapping around a strong body structure meets all expectations and allows you to flex your driving muscles to enjoy the superb quality of the ride.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the top-of-line Advanced trim is $33,300. The price of the entry-level base model, the Plus, is just $27,300.

3-year/36.000-mile Basic Warranty
8-year/100,000-mile Hybrid System Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Warranty
5-year/unlimited mileage Corrosion Perforation Warranty

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or at dcaussey@sbcglobal.net.