Oh, damn. Do I like the new Prius? I mean, really like the new Prius? Split-a-Slurpee-and-listen-to-Broken-Social-Scene-in-the-IHOP-parking-lot like the new Prius? We only have European stats, but those stats show a cleverly redesigned plug-in hybrid with a huge increase in power (almost 100 HP!) and usability with no sacrifice in range. It’s eating your cake and having it, too.
Again, the major caveat here is that the U.S. version of this car has not been revealed so we’re having to go off what’s been released globally and for Europe. Here are the global specs for the plug-in hybrid (called Prime in the United States), straight from Toyota’s global press release:
- A 2.0-liter plug-in hybrid with 220 horsepower!
- A 0-62 mph time of 6.7 seconds!
- A 50% increase in pure-EV mode to maybe 50 miles!
- Similar (though not released) total efficiency!
I know I’m Upton Sinclair-ing with the punctuation, but this is a big deal. The current Prius Prime in the United States gets 121 combined horsepower and only 25 miles of pure EV range. [UPDATE: Someone in the comments correctly checked my math here so it’s worth clarifying EV range. In the US, the Prius Prime has an EPA estimated 25 miles of range. In the UK it’s estimated as 39 miles miles of range. A 50% increase would mean about 58 miles on the UK standard and a little shy of 40 miles on the US standard. In reality, owners in the US tend to report EV ranges closer to the UK so I think 50 miles of EV range in practical experience is possible – MH] That’s fine, but it’s also slow, with a 0-60 mph time in the low 10s. If the version we get is anything like the European version (and it probably is) we’re talking a car that is a vast improvement in performance.
Toyota is playing up the sportier aspects of this car as well, stating:
The second-generation TNGA platform was developed as an ongoing improvement of the matured TNGA platform to achieve the exhilarating styling and driving performance of the new Prius, allowing for a lower center of gravity and large-diameter tires.
I feel like “exhilarating driving performance” is not something usually associated with the Prius, which seems to be getting MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone setup at the rear.
Additional improvements include an optional solar roof and this trick little window attachment so you can use the built-in accessory ports to charge off of the battery (Toyota, as of now, has not revealed the battery size).
On the outside, the car’s got larger wheels and a stretched wheelbase (although it appears to be slightly shorter) to give it a more athletic stance while still retaining the overall Prius shape that’s built around the warped-canoe greenhouse. I like it.
On the inside the Prius picks up the brand’s new “island architecture” design language, with a large floating screen for the driver and passenger and a driver-focused screen for the relevant gauges and information. The best feature might be a mood strip that’s tied into the car’s safety systems and can adjust the lighting to alert the driving about incoming objects.
There’s also a new series hybrid version in the classic Prius flavor that also gets the 2.0-liter motor and has about 190 horsepower, which is still a rather large increase in power over the various versions offered globally. I’m assuming we’ll also get this version, but it’s possibly we only get the PHEV.
Damn. I am excited about this.
[Editor’s Note: I saw this car in person a few months ago at Toyota’s HQ in Plano, Texas, but was not permitted to take pictures or talk about it. Since it’s revealed, I suppose I can talk about it, and I have to say it is a dramatic improvement over the outgoing – and, really, all the others – Prius. In person, the proportions are great, it feels nice and wide in the hips, and the face is so much better than the riot of creases and folds and flaps that Toyota design was spiraling into. The new design language is hectares cleaner and sleeker. It’s so much better. – JT]
UPDATE: The US Version Is, Indeed, Quite Similar
Consistent with what’s written above, Toyota announced that the U.S. is getting both the plug-in version (still called the Prius Prime) and the non-plug-in version. The basic hybrid comes in FWD or AWD and gets 196 combined horsepower. In Prime trim, there is indeed a “nearly” 100 hp increase to 220 hp, and a 0-to-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds, From a Prius.