The Toyota Prius started it all. It has become the most popular hybrid vehicle in the world.
Taxi fleets around the world have proven it to be efficient, reliable and long-lived. Consumers have also enjoyed the phenomenal efficiency. But the Prius has never generated any buzz for its looks.
Until the fourth generation was introduced last year.
In one big step, Toyota took the Prius from dull and boring to edgy and controversial. The 2022 Prius Prime test vehicle screamed Look at me! with its sharp cutlines, supersonic red paint and mostly white interior.
The Prius started the hybrid game and remains the biggest player in the field.
But the competition has caught up, and in some cases passed it in terms of performance, features, and efficiency. The fourth-generation Prius answered that threat with a larger engine and more efficient drivetrain. The 2022 Prius also boasts as much interior space as many larger vehicles. And of course, industry leading retained value adds to the positive side of the ledger.
The 60-kW high torque electric motor provides plenty of punch off the line, and across an intersection. It can also get the vehicle up to highway speed if you are not in a hurry.
If you keep the right-hand pedal down for more than a few seconds, though, the gasoline engine becomes necessary and is brought into play.
Acceleration from rest to 100 km/hr is a leisurely affair, lasting almost 11 seconds. For the purposes of comparison, I consider 7-8 seconds average and 5-7 impressive. The recent wave of pure electric vehicles with their more powerful motors have made sub five-second runs common.
Of course, anyone considering a Prius is highly unlikely to know or care about performance numbers. What they will expect is amazing efficiency and Toyota-level quality and reliability. This, the 2022 Prius Prime delivers without any question.
The Prius Prime is the plug-in version of the popular hybrid. Range anxiety be gone!
By plugging it into a household 110-volt outlet each night, I managed almost a week of driving without using a single drop of gasoline.
Daily runs of 25-30 kilometres were done on electric power alone. A 125-km highway run finished the week, and even with that done with the gasoline engine, the average for the week was an amazing 2.4 litres/100 km!
Sure, a purely electric vehicle can better that, but there is the constant need to be aware of where you can plug in when the battery runs dry. The Prius Prime has a gasoline engine ready to come into play, removing any ‘range anxiety’ worries. And, of course, when a new dose of energy is required, gasoline pumps are everywhere.
Inside the Prius Prime: a rather amazing amount of people and package space for such a relatively small vehicle
The hatchback design adds to the versatility and ease of loading and unloading. Four six-footers will find sufficient space and there is a good amount of space behind the second seat.
The lower roofline and stance of the latest design changes the profile and thus image of the vehicle. But it also sacrifices visibility and makes getting in and out more difficult.
The driver faces a well-finished dashboard.
The instruments appear to the right, at the centre of the vehicle and out of the line of sight, requiring you to take your eyes further off the road than I would like. Thankfully, the well optioned tester had a heads-up display making it unnecessary to refer to the central readout very often.
That vertically-oriented 30-cm touch-screen is the size of a tablet. It provides a colourful array of fuel economy information as well as the usual infotainment, including Apple CarPlay (but not Android Auto) wireless connectivity.
The dash-mounted shifter frees up space on the console for storage provisions and there is a 120-volt outlet and wireless smart phone charging.
Safety features abound in the 2022 Toyota Prius Prime
In addition to LED headlights, the Prius comes with blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, lane departure alert with steering assist, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection and lane tracing assist.
The Toyota Prius has become an icon. This latest generation remains competitive in the face of newcomers. It is also eligible for up to $4,500 in provincial and federal rebates making it an even more attractive proposition.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2022 Toyota Prius Prime Upgrade
As tested: $41,202 including freight
LED headlights, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beams, lane departure alert with steering assist, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane tracing assist, smart stop technology
Power windows and locks, push button start, 120V outlet, power rear hatch, power heated mirrors, heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated tilt & telescope steering wheel, automatic climate control, 15-in alloy wheels
Technology package, (heads up display, 10-speaker JBL audio system, auto dimming mirror with Homelink, intelligent clearance sonar with intelligent parking assist), $2,605
1.8 litre DOHC four-cylinder, 96 hp, 105 lb-ft torque plus a 60kW permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor, combined output, 121 hp; 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, continuously variable automatic transmission, front wheel drive, NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 4.3 / 4.4
Length, 4,644 mm; width, 1,760 mm; wheelbase, 2,700 mm; weight, 1,530 kg
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