2018 Toyota Prius Prime Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid version of the regular Prius. It has a bigger battery that you can recharge with an external power source. Doing so gives you the ability to drive about 25 miles on all-electric power before the car switches over to regular hybrid operation. After that, the Prime returns an impressive 54 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
Like a standard Prius, the Prius Prime can operate without ever being plugged in. Simply refuel as you go and enjoy the long legs of your journey between fill-ups. Or, if you're able to recharge frequently, you can use the Prius Prime much as you would an all-electric vehicle.
The Prime's styling is a bit different from the regular Prius' (we'd argue it's less goofy-looking, actually), and the seating capacity is down from five passengers in the standard Prius to four. But the driving experience is similar. Still, the bigger battery adds weight, and that has a detrimental effect on handling and acceleration. The battery also reduces maximum cargo capacity compared to the regular Prius.
You'll want to look at a couple of rivals if you're shopping for a plug-in hybrid. The Chevrolet Volt is sportier to drive and has a longer electric range than the Prime, but overall fuel economy with the Volt is lower and the price is higher. Honda's new Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is another top contender. Overall, the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is a solid pick if you're shopping for an efficient and affordable plug-in hybrid.
What's new for 2018
Trim levels & features
The 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is available in three trim levels: Plus, Premium and Advanced. All share the same hybrid powertrain and perform identically, so the differences among them boil down to features. That is, the Plus is obviously the value play of the range, but it has a decent list of standard features. The Premium, meanwhile, brings a few key comfort-oriented items. The Advanced trim level adds a lot of features that will surely appeal to tech-savvy buyers, though they come at a big increase in price.
All Prius Primes have a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a plug-in hybrid system. Total system output is 121 horsepower, which drives the front wheels through a specialized continuously variable automatic transmission. The EPA estimates the Prime can drive up to 25 miles using pure electric power. Fully charging the battery takes 5 hours and 30 minutes using a 120-volt power source or a little more than 2 hours with 240 volts.
The Plus trim level starts you out with 15-inch wheels, LED headlights, automatic climate control, keyless access (driver's door only) and start, heated front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio. A suite of driver safety aids, called Toyota Safety Sense P, is also standard and includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and automatic high beams.
Stepping up one rung to the Premium trim level puts you into the Prius Prime's sweet spot. It includes a power driver's seat, an 11.6-inch central touchscreen and upgraded infotainment system, simulated leather (SofTex) upholstery, keyless entry on the other three doors, satellite radio and wireless smartphone charging.
The Advanced trim level adds on a premium audio system, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming mirror, a head-up display, a smartphone app with a charge management system and remote-control climate operation, automatic wipers and a semiautomated parking function.
Noise & vibration8.0
Ease of use6.0
Getting in/getting out8.0
Child safety seat accommodation7.0
Audio & navigation6.5
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.