Welcome back to The Morning Dump, where we carefully curate bite-sized morsels of automotive news you need to know. Today, we’re taking a look at pricing and electric range for the new Toyota Prius Prime, a nifty little Ford van called the E-Transit Courier, a Volkswagen Atlas in hiking boots, and a Honda CR-V recall that could result in a nasty surprise if left unchecked. Let’s get into it.
Electric range and pricing for the sexy new Toyota Prius Prime are out and boy are they ever promising. This latest plug-in hybrid pulls 44 miles of all-electric range from the SE trim with the small wheels, falling to 39 miles for XSE and XSE Premium trims. Either way, that’s a huge jump over the old car’s 25 miles of electric range.
The base Prius Prime SE trim starts at a reasonable $33,445 and is only available with one no-brainer option – front and rear parking assistance for $35. I had to check that wasn’t a typo, $35 is unbelievably cheap for anything on a car. You can’t even fill most cars’ fuel tanks for $35. Step up to the XSE trim for $36,695 and you get gorgeous alloy wheels that sap some range, leatherette upholstery, an eight-way power heated driver’s seat, wireless charging, and a smart key system. Optional on this grade is a glass roof for $1,000, a 12.3-inch infotainment system for $735, and digital key functionality for $275. Finally, there’s the XSE Premium trim for $40,265 which adds ventilated seats, a JBL stereo, and everything optional on the regular XSE trim. Options for this top Prius Prime model include a 360-degree camera system and automated parking for $1,085, solar panels in the roof for $610, heated rear seats for $350, and a digital rear-view mirror for $200.
As for how I’d spec a Prius Prime using Toyota’s configurator, I’d go for the base SE model as it gets the longest electric range and still comes with a heated steering wheel. I’d then spend the $35 on front and rear parking sensors because that’s so cheap it feels like I’m robbing Toyota, splash out $450 on the Supersonic Red paint because it’s a great color, and spend $299 on the all-weather floor mat package because that’s a fair price for rubber floor mats and a cargo mat that fit. That brings the grand total to $34,204, which is a great price for a PHEV with this range.
So long as you don’t dip too deeply into the options list and have a place to plug in, the new Toyota Prius Prime seems like an incredible daily driver that offers loads of all-electric range and the ability to take advantage of the reliable coast-to-coast infrastructure of gas stations for longer journeys. Expect the first ones to arrive in showrooms come May.
The Transit Connect Replacement We Deserve
For decades now, it’s felt like European mass-market Fords have been so much cooler than American mass-market Fords. Sure, we have awesome enthusiast vehicles like the Mustang GT500, Bronco Raptor, and F-150 Raptor, but European mainstream models like the pillarless B-Max people carrier, diesel Ranger, Puma crossover, and Ka city-car look sweet. The new E-Transit Courier is another one of those awesome Euro Fords that will never see our shores — a small electric van that seems perfect for urban use.
Although we don’t have many specs, the E-Transit Courier will charge at up to 11 kW on a Level 2 AC charger or 100 kW on a DC fast charger, fits two Euro pallets in its cargo bay, and is an all-Ford design that’s actually slightly shorter than the sadly-outgoing Transit Connect. However, it’s much larger than the old Fiesta-based Transit Courier, which should mean it’s just the right size for cities – nimble enough for back alleys, roomy enough to carry 8.5-foot lengths of lumber. Payload clocks in at 1,543 pounds, while towing capacity is just marginally higher at 1,653 pounds.
In case electrons don’t float your boat, Ford will also build regular Transit Couriers with gasoline or diesel power. In fact, the models you fill up at a forecourt will actually arrive first, with Ford targeting deliveries this year. Expect the electric version to come along in 2024, right in time for the ramp-up to 900,000 annual units. The E-Transit Courier sounds perfect for city-based contractors and small businesses in America looking to replace their soon-to-be-discontinued Transit Connects, so it’s a shame that it’ll likely never tread tire on American soil. Thanks, Chicken Tax.
Just about every manufacturer seems to be jumping into the trend of putting crossovers in Otterboxes, and Volkswagen is the latest to board the bandwagon. The Atlas Peak Edition is arriving this year for anyone who misses the styling touches of the original Audi Allroad but doesn’t miss the repair bills.
So what turns a regular Atlas into a Peak Edition? Well, this model gets silver trim that looks a bit like skid plates to the uninitiated, a set of 255/60R18 Continental Crosscontact ATR all-terrain tires on black wheels, black trim, special green or grey paint, orange stitching on the interior, and some badges. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, mostly because it isn’t.
However, it’s not like most of the competition or the customer base serious into off-roading. The owner of a well-specced Touareg with the rear diff lock would scoff at this posturing attempt, but a stock Atlas should get down fire trails and cottage driveways with ease. The Peak Edition just adds slightly knobbier tires and a little bit of extra styling. It cashes in on the desire to look rugged without any huge compromises for typical on-road use, so expect to see Atlas Peak Edition examples everywhere after launch this summer.
After a recall campaign in Canada spurred internal investigation in America, Honda is recalling 563,711 CR-Vs from model years 2007 to 2011 that were ever used in the salt belt due to the potential for catastrophic unibody rot. Let’s see what the defect report has to say:
In salt-belt states where de-icing agents are used to maintain the roadway, the de-icing agents, along with mud and water, could enter the rear frame through drainage/positioning holes when the vehicle is driven through flooded areas or puddles at high speeds. Over time, the accumulated de-icing agents/mud/water mixture could cause corrosion to the frame’s internal structure. If this occurs, the rear trailing arm can fall off.
Ah, that doesn’t sound good. So what on earth does Honda plan on doing to fix this? Well, there are several options. If the rear trailing arm bolt comes out cleanly, Honda will install a brace. However, if it just falls out or is absolutely seized in place, Honda will either repair the frame or repurchase the entire vehicle. Imagine a buy-back on a 16-year-old crossover. If you happen to own an affected CR-V, expect to receive a letter in the post about this in early May. On the plus side, no injuries associated with this defect have been reported, but Honda has logged 61 complaints.
The Big Question
Spring is here, which means perfect weather for dropping the windows a touch and cranking the tunes up. With that in mind, I’d love to know what you’ve been listening to in your car lately. I’ve been bumping music from Snow Strippers, a Detroit-based Electropop/Witch House duo. One of their latest tracks, It’s Goin’ Bad, is perfect for chill night cruises under expressway lighting. Whether Slayer, Kenny Chensey, Mr. Oizo, or Injury Reserve, I’d love to know what driving songs have been stuck in your head lately.
(Photo credits: Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda)
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