Toyota became the first maker of a mass hybrid vehicle in 2001 with the introduction of the Prius. Since that time, the Prius name has become a brand in itself—synonymous with hybrid technology.
Now in its third generation, the Prius offers a number of variants, including the Plug-In.
What's New for 2014
The Prius Plug-In rolls quietly into the 2014 model year with a few minor trim and color additions.
Choosing Your Toyota Prius Plug-In
Unlike the standard Prius, the Plug-In uses a higher-capacity lithium-ion battery that can be charged from any outlet for up to 11 miles of pure-electric operation. They feature a port on the right side where the charging cable goes, while the left side has a traditional gas cap. Plug-In models have a distinct grille, wheels, door handles and lights.
The Plug-In is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine mated to a 60-kilowatt electric motor, all working with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a higher-capacity lithium-ion battery pack. Total hybrid system horsepower is 134. The Plug-in Hybrid has a rating of 51mpg city and 49mpg highway for standard hybrid operation, and 95mpge (miles per gallon equivalent) by the EPA's plug-in-hybrid formula.
Neither of the Prius Plug-In models is cheap. But they do deliver on their promise of exceptional fuel economy. During a drive from Boston to New York, I tested the performance limits of a Prius Plug-In. And despite occasional high-speed bursts, I averaged 50 mpg.