It looks like Toyota was quite conservative with its initial all-electric range estimate.
Toyota has launched the new Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) in Japan, known in North America as the Prius Prime, and with it comes a more impressive all-electric range than expected, making one of the market's efficiency champions even better.
When the much-improved Prius was revealed last year, Toyota only said that the Prime's all-electric range had been improved by over 50%, which translated to around 37 miles in total, up from the older model's 25 miles.
In Japan, with 17-inch wheels, the Prius PHEV is now claimed to cover around 65 miles on electric power alone, based on the WLTC standard. Even accounting for the fact that the car's EPA-rated range will be lower, it should still comfortably be more than the 37 miles (or so) we were expecting initially.
With larger 19-inch alloy wheels, the WLTC-rated Prius PHEV in Japan is claimed to cover 54 miles on a full charge. When it arrives in the USA, the base Prius Prime SE will have 17-inch alloy wheels, so it should have the longest all-electric range, while the XSE and XSE Premium will ride on 19s. Of course, we'll have to wait for official EPA ratings before getting too excited, but it seems that Prius Prime owners will be able to do far more all-electric driving than they could before.
Also available in the USA will be a solar glass roof, and we now have more information from Japan about how useful this is for range. Under ideal conditions, the solar roof has the ability to add around 776 miles of range annually, or around 64 miles per month. That's roughly on par with the annual miles that Hyundai claimed for its Sonata Hybrid, which also made use of a solar roof, although this feature was removed for the 2023 variant.
The energy gleaned from the solar roof in the Prius PHEV not only supplies energy for driving but also for the operation of other vehicle functions like the air conditioning system. Another useful feature in the Japan-spec model is an external power supply for outdoor and leisure activities, along with an external electric power supply attachment. It remains to be seen if these features make it to the US-spec model when that arrives later this year.
Other than the impressive range claims, the new Prius PHEV is much like the US-spec model, boasting a far more alluring design than before and a much more potent powertrain. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motors deliver a combined 220 horsepower - 99 horses more than before - dropping the 0-60 time to 6.6 seconds. That's quicker than a GR86 can manage, so it's a great all-rounder.
The price and on-sale date of the new Prius Prime will be announced in the first half of this year.
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