Even more efficient. The biggest headline for the 2019 Toyota Prius Prime is its gas mileage. The regular Prius already gets an impressive 52 miles per gallon combined, according to the EPA. When running as a hybrid, the Prius Prime ups that number to 54 mpg combined. That’s better than both the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid and the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid.
In electric-only mode, the battery is good for 25 miles of range. That’s less than the two rivals, but not by much 2 and no one is expecting the Prius to go hundreds of miles on a charge. The EPA also gives the Prius Prime a combined rating of 133 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe).
A pricier Prius. The affordability of the Prius is dented somewhat in Prime form. Starting at $28,280 including destination, the Prius Prime is $3,580 more expensive than a base-spec Prius. That’s also $2,010 more than an Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid, but $1,215 cheaper than the Niro Plug-In Hybrid.
The Prius Prime also gets its own trim structure. Instead of the L, LE, XLE, and Limited trims on the traditional Prius, the Prius Prime has Plus, Premium, and Advanced options. The Premium and Advanced trims loosely correspond to the XLE and Limited Prius, although the Prius Prime versions are around $1,200 more expensive.
But more luxurious, too. Although the starting price is higher, the Prius Prime starts with a nicer feature set than the base Prius. A Prius Prime Plus comes with a nicer audio system, a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, navigation, and heated front seats. The Prius Prime retains the Prius’ sterling safety record, with standard active safety tech and a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS.
What the Prius Prime loses is cargo space. Thanks to a more sedan-like roofline, the Prius Prime has just 19.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats. That’s still good by sedan standards, but it’s more than 10 cubic feet less than the hatchback-like Prius. It’s also slightly less than the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid.
The sacrifice may be worth it to some buyers for looks that are less polarizing than those of the Prius. The Prius Prime smooths out some of the Prius’ bolder choices, resulting in a more conventional (though still bold) exterior.
Still not fast. Like its sibling, the Prius Prime is clearly geared for fuel economy, not fun. Power remains the same at 121 horsepower, which is enough for town driving but anemic for highway passing. Steering is light and numb, and the suspension is built for comfort over cornering.
The Prius Prime lacks one other major option from the Prius: all-wheel drive. The Prius added available motors to the rear wheels for added all-weather confidence, but the Prius Prime remains front-wheel drive only.
Final thoughts. The 2019 Toyota Prius Prime scores a few major points: it retains the safety and comfort of the Prius while improving on the already impressive efficiency (and the less impressive styling).
But the Prius Prime still comes with compromises. It also keeps the lackadaisical acceleration of the Prius, and it loses some of the hatchback practicality. The efficiency gain is small, as is the electric-only range. With cheaper options available from both Toyota and competitors, the Prius Prime is best for dedicated eco-warriors.