The 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In builds on the Prius line's reputation for providing efficient hybrid power in mainstream passenger car. With the advent of plug-in technology, it is now possible to drive a Prius indefinitely without using a drop of gasoline so long as your trips don't exceed 11 miles and you recharge the battery between each one.
The Plug-In utilizes the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with electic motor as the regular Prius. This setup operates the same with one important exception: the electric motor can be fully charged from a standard outlet. Whereas the electric motor in a traditional hybrid charges off the gas engine, a plug-in can charge off the electrical grid just like any household appliance.
Fulled charged, the Prius Plug-In can travel up to 62 mph on electic power only. Drivers who make short trips and have regular access to an outlet may find that their Prius uses no gas whatsoever. If the charge runs out, the Plug-In simply becomes a regular hybrid, functioning on a combination of gas and electric power. It's for this reason that Toyota recommends keeping gas in the tank at all times, even when it is isn't needed for propulsion.
Taking into acount driving habits and other factors that might affect the miles driven on a single charge, Toyota estimates gas mileage at 95 mpg in electric mode, even though it is possible to drive daily without using any gas at all. In hybrid mode, you'll still get a hefty 50 mpg, about the same as a regular Prius.
The Plug-In is priced at $32,000, about $8,000 more than the standard Prius. That price includes special 15-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, remote climate control that cools or warms the interior for up to 10 minutes before you enter, heated front seats, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks with adjustable headrests, and display audio with navigation and Toyota's Entune music and entertainment selection system. Priced at $39,525, the Advanced model adds auto-off LED headlamps with level control and integrated foglamps, premium HDD navigation system with integrated communications and audio entertainment, head-up dashboard displays, auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink intergrated garage and gate opener, and leather-like SoftTex trim on the seats and steering wheel. Interestingly, no additional options are available on either model, greatly simplifying the selection process.
If the notion of buying gas once in a blue moon seems like a fantasy, the Prius Plug-In just might be your dream car.