While Toyota could have simply slapped in a bigger battery pack and a plug jack and sent it to market, it took this opportunity to make the plug-in version something special.
Outside, the Prius Prime differentiates itself from the normal Prius with quad LED headlights up front and a curved glass hatch out back flanked by cool-looking LED taillights. That rear glass is flanked by a carbon-fiber hatch for weight reduction.
Toyota also went to work on the interior. Like the first-generation Chevrolet Volt, the Prius Prime is a four-seater, though these seats fold 60/40. The big change inside comes by way of an 11.6-inch tablet-style center display/command center that is mounted vertically.
This system, Toyota says, works by swiping and tapping, just like the devices we use every day. It's a departure from what we've seen from Toyota in the past, and we'll report back as soon as we get our hands on a working prototype.
But as neat as all that is, the real point of the Prius Prime is the powertrain. It comes with an 8.8kWh battery pack that's good for 22 miles of pure electric range. When hooked up to a household plug, it'll take 5 hours to recharge. Lock it into a 240-volt juicer and charging time is cut in half.
Toyota claims that with a full battery and a tank of fuel, total range on the Prime is 600 miles. The comparable Chevy Volt has 420 miles of total range but 53 on the battery. Thank a slightly more efficient Prius powertrain and a 11.3-gallon fuel tank for the longer overall range.
Edmunds says: The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime goes on sale in the fall and, unlike its main rival, the Chevy Volt, will be available in all 50 states at launch. Expect the Prius Prime to come in under $30,000 once federal tax incentives are factored in.