• Significant update to Toyota’s plug-in hybrid for 2020
  • Competes with other PHEVs like the Hyundai Ioniq, Honda Clarity, Chevrolet Volt
  • Now seats five instead of four
  • Standard Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa connectivity
  • New trim levels: LE, XLE and Limited
  • Pricing starts at $28,530 (including $930 destination charge) 
  • Goes on sale summer 2019

 

The 2020 Toyota Prius Prime, the Japanese automaker’s plug-in hybrid vehicle, benefits from a significant update for the 2020 model year. Toyota’s updates to this PHEV address some shortcomings the Prius Prime had compared to rivals such as the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid and the outgoing Chevrolet Volt.

The Prius Prime boasts a 640-mile total range, a number that includes 25 miles of all-electric range (at 133 MPGe), plus 615 miles of range from its gas-electric hybrid powertrain that’s rated at a combined city/highway fuel economy of 54 mpg. The Prius Prime combines that high fuel efficiency with tax incentives to lower the overall cost to get into this car.

Still, some key elements of the Prius Prime’s interior weren’t up to par with its competitors. It could only accommodate four people, when the Clarity, Volt, Ioniq and plug-in sedans on the market seated five. Also, Apple CarPlay wasn’t available. Toyota solved these issues for the 2020 model, and while the company was at it, also added two USB ports for rear-seat passengers, gave each front sunvisor an extender, and moved the front-seat seat heater buttons to make them easier to use.

How much does the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime cost?

The new Prius Prime starts at $28,530 for the base LE model. The midrange XLE starts at $30,430, and the top-of-the-line Limited has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $34,430. (All prices include a $930 destination charge.) For reference, the 2019 Ioniq plug-in starts at $26,270, the 2019 Volt at $34,395 and the 2019 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid starts at $34,320.

When does the Prius Prime go on sale?

Toyota announced that the updated Prius Prime will be available starting in summer 2019.

How does the Prius Prime work?

Toyota hasn’t announced any changes to the powertrain, so we anticipate that the 2020 Prius Prime will continue to use a 1.8-liter, 95-horsepower engine that works with two electric motors that put out a combined 76 kilowatts (kW) of power, contributing to a system total 121 peak horsepower.

There’s also an 8.8-kWh battery pack, which lets you drive up to 25 miles on electric power alone. While you can recharge the Prius Prime in about two hours on a high-speed charger, if you run out of electric power you can drive on gas/electric hybrid power for more than 500 miles.

That’s the great thing about plug-in hybrid vehicles: you get the benefits of an electric car, with none of the range anxiety.

2020 Toyota Prius Prime fuel economy

Toyota anticipates that the updated Prius Prime will have the same fuel economy at the current model, namely an EPA-estimated 54 combined mpg when it runs like a regular hybrid, and 133 MPGe on the 25 miles of electric-only power. Total vehicle range should remain 640 miles. That’s the best range you can get in any car, and the best MPGe you can get in a car that isn’t fully electric. 

2020 Toyota Prius Prime interior

For 2020, the Prius Prime’s interior remains mostly the same, but Toyota has made notable improvements. The biggest change is that there are now three rear seats instead of two, giving this PHEV 5-seat capacity like the original Prius plug-in (the Prime name was affixed to the current generation Prius PHEV). Rear-seat passengers now get USB ports for the first time.

There are changes up front as well. While the dash continues to be dominated by a bright, easy-to-use 11.6-inch vertical touch screen, that screen now controls two new features: Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. To give the interior a more upscale look for 2020, the automaker replaced the previous Prius Prime’s white accents with black ones. And, paying special attention to detail, Toyota also moved the seat heater buttons to put them in easier reach, and added extenders to the sunvisors.

The Prius Prime interior’s layout has visual cues that resemble other Toyota products, but there are important differences, too. The driver doesn’t face a typical instrument cluster. Instead, speed and other important info are displayed on a narrow screen above the large touch screen. Below the screen is a stubby gear shifter.

How many people does the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime seat?

The Toyota Prius Prime can seat five people. We don’t expect that newly created fifth seat to be overly spacious, but it may offer enough room for an adult on a short trip, or a child for longer drives.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Apple CarPlay? Yes, and it comes standard. Android Auto? Nope. Owners of iPhones can enjoy the ability to control music and navigation, as well as hear and respond to text messages, via voice control. Those that have Android phones will have to wait.

Amazon Alexa

This feature, which comes standard on the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime, will let you use voice commands to do a number of tasks, which includes everything from remotely starting the car and locking and unlocking the doors, to getting directions, controlling in-car entertainment, and more.

Prius Prime warranty

While Toyota hasn’t yet announced the warranty for the Prius Prime for 2020, we expect the PHEV to be covered by 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties. In addition, we expect the 2020 Prius Prime to offer an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on the hybrid system.

Standard safety

Toyota will likely continue to have its Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) as standard in the Prius Prime. In 2019 models, it comes with an impressive list of advanced safety systems that are helpful for new and experienced drivers alike.

  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (standard) – Uses a front-facing camera to help detect and minimize a collision.
  • Lane-Departure Alert with Steering Assist (standard) – Can steer a car back into the lane if it senses drifting.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (standard) – Keeps the car at the speed you set but slows down to keep a distance between your car and the car in front of you.
  • Automatic High Beams (standard) – Makes sure high beams don’t stay on when there’s a car coming in the opposite direction.
  • Intelligence Clearance Sonar (optional) – Can help avoid low-speed accidents.
  • Intelligent Parking Assist (optional) – Aids in centering the car in a parking space or when parallel parking.
  • Blind-Spot Monitor (optional) – Uses a light to let you know when there’s a car in your blind spot.
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (optional) – When backing out of a parking spot, this system will alert you if there’s a car coming from either side.

 

These advanced safety features are in addition to standard safety features including front, side and head curtain, and driver’s knee airbags, stability and traction controls, plus ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist.

2020 Toyota Prius Prime trim levels

Toyota hasn’t released the trim-level breakdown of the new 2020 Prius Prime yet, but the least expensive model is the base LE. The next step up is the midrange XLE, and the line tops off with the Limited.

2020 Toyota Prius Prime key specs

  • 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • Two electric motors, 76 kW combined (est)
  • 95 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm (est)
  • 105 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpm (est)
  • 121 system horsepower (est)
  • Electronic continuously variable automatic transmission
  • Length: 182.9 inches (est)
  • Wheelbase: 106.3 inches (est)
  • Width: 69.3 inches (est)
  • Height: 57.9 inches (est)
  • Cargo Volume: 19.8 cu ft (est)

 

Toyota Prius Prime vs. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

While the Prius Prime’s base price is a little higher than that of the Ioniq, the Toyota offers a higher MPGe (133 versus 119), higher fuel economy when driven like a hybrid (54 mpg versus 52) and higher range (640 total miles, as opposed to the Ioniq’s 630). However, the Ioniq has a more powerful engine, and the Hyundai can get you further on all-electric power, going 29 miles before the gas engine kicks in. (The Prime can go up to 25 miles.)

The Hyundai Ioniq is the current value leader in the PHEV segment, with a starting price that’s just over $26,000 for 2019. However, that race gets tighter with Toyota’s pricing announcement for the 2020 Prius Prime. If Toyota Safety Sense continues to come standard, and there’s even a moderate price increase for the 2020 Ioniq, the Prius Prime could take the Ioniq’s value crown.

Toyota Prius Prime vs. Chevrolet Volt

Yes, 2019 is the last year of the Chevrolet Volt, but the Chevy started the PHEV segment and has been the benchmark ever since even a slew of new competition has joined the fray. The Volt’s claim to fame is a stellar 53 miles of all-electric range, compared to the Toyota Prius Prime’s 25. However, the Prius Prime has 640 miles of total range, while the Volt offers 420. Comparing base prices, the Volt costs significantly more than the Prius Prime. The 2019 Volt starts at more than $34,000, compared to the 2020 Prius Prime’s $28,530.

Toyota Prius Prime vs. Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

Compared to the Toyota Prius Prime, the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is a larger car, and despite its own unique styling cues on the outside, is much more like a conventional sedan on the inside. The 2019 Clarity comes with more standard equipment and niceties for its $34,000 base price than does the Prime and is roomier on the inside. The Clarity’s 48 miles nearly doubles the Prius Prime’s all-electric range, but the Honda’s overall range is 340 miles, compared to the Prius Prime’s 640.

Class of 2020: The New and Redesigned Cars, Trucks and SUVs

Is the Toyota Prius Prime a good choice for you?

We consider the Toyota Prius Prime a smart choice. It has terrific overall range, useful tech, and an impressive roster of standard safety equipment. For 2020, Toyota has made timely, helpful improvements to an already strong car. However, we don’t know yet how much space that fifth seat will offer, or if TSS-P will still come standard for 2020.  

Plug-in hybrids are not created equal. When it comes to PHEVs, buying the right one depends on your specific needs. For example, if your regular driving routine consists of short drives, or it puts you in more open-highway driving situations, the Prius Prime has the advantage, as you can go 640 miles between fill-ups. If you want a car with a little more power, but close to the same range as the Prius Prime, you may want to consider the Ioniq. If you have a commute that’s 50 miles or so and you can charge at work, the Clarity or the Volt can ensure you rarely have to visit the gas station, if at all.

Ready to go part-time electric? Shop for a new plug-in hybrid vehicle near you!

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