2018 Toyota Prius Prime Review

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding fuel economy, with 25 miles of EV range
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Priced lower than most other plug-ins
  • Slow acceleration and noisy engine
  • Small cargo area
  • Infotainment system's poor layout and smartphone integration
Other years
2018
Toyota Prius Prime for Sale
2018
List Price Range
$23,789 - $25,998

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Which Prius Prime does Edmunds recommend?

For all-around value, we recommend the Premium trim level. Like every Prius Prime, it has an impressive electric-only range and top-tier fuel economy. But it comes with features that you'll appreciate having, such as the large 11.6-inch touchscreen, upgraded cabin materials, a power-adjustable driver's seat, keyless access and start for all four doors, and wireless smartphone charging.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

7.0 / 10

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.

2018 Toyota Prius Prime models

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.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime (1.8L inline-4 hybrid | CVT automatic | FWD).

Driving

6.0
The Toyota Prius Prime places a high priority on efficiency over dynamic capabilities. You'll find the car competent in the city and adequate once you're up to speed and cruising. The steering and brakes are particularly numb.

Acceleration

5.5
The electric powertrain has sufficient punch for city driving, but don't think you can rely on it with confidence when merging onto the freeway or pulling out to pass. You'll be using a lot of the engine's power for any real acceleration. Our 0-60 mph test run took 10 seconds, which is pretty slow.

Braking

6.0
There's a decent amount of braking power for routine use. But stops can be hard to judge because there's not much feel and the brakes can get grabby, especially in harder applications. Our emergency-panic stop from 60 mph used up 119 feet, and the car tended to wiggle a bit as it came to a halt.

Steering

6.0
While the vehicle goes where you point it, the steering feels light and numb when cruising straight on the highway, and effort doesn't change much as you round corners. It improves somewhat if you decide to push it on a winding road, but in routine use the Prime doesn't feel all that connected.

Handling

6.0
A Prime's enlarged plug-in battery represents extra weight that sits somewhat high behind the rear wheels, which throws off the balance markedly compared to a regular Prius. It feels heavy, and the soft springs and sluggish damping feel inadequate, most notably when corners come one after another.

Drivability

7.0
The theme is efficiency, so unless you're using big gas pedal inputs, the Prime responds sluggishly. Driving up big hills highlights the lack of power and the vocal gas engine, but downhills are an opportunity to recharge the battery. The Prime loves the city, and it responds well to stop-and-go.

Comfort

8.0
The Prius Prime feels largely similar to a regular Prius in terms of ride, engine noise and road noise, but that's only when the engine is actually on. The Prime's 25-mile electric range changes the game by adding the quietness of a pure EV driving experience for a significant chunk of time.

Seat comfort

8.0
The seats are ergonomically well-designed. They're not couch-soft but have that initial give that lets them conform to your body. The seat bottom is short, but we had no issues on a long drive. The rear seats are similar to the fronts, but with broader seatbacks. They're also properly comfortable.

Ride comfort

7.0
The Prime's ride is generally flat, and it does not float or wallow. Its suspension handles small, rolling-type bumps quite well, but the suspension and tires tend to transmit harsh square-edge bumps directly into the cabin, especially if they come one after another.

Noise & vibration

8.0
Obviously, it's very quiet in EV mode. But the gas engine is annoyingly noisy when you've got the pedal pinned. There's some wind and road noise, both of which become noticeable mainly when the engine is off at near-highway speeds in EV mode.

Climate control

7.5
The Prius has an effective automatic climate control system, but on the Premium and Advanced only the temperature and defroster have physical buttons. Everything else is on the touchscreen. The Plus uses an easier system. The unique Eco mode has the ability to focus cooling solely on the driver.

Interior

7.0
The massive central touchscreen of the top-level Advanced (and midlevel Premium) adds some Tesla-like high-tech flair, but it makes certain routine tasks less intuitive. Otherwise, the Prius Prime is not so different from any other Prius. The one big exception: A Prius Prime seats only four people.

Ease of use

6.0
We've never liked the Prius' central dash, and the Prime Advanced (and Premium) also has a huge touchscreen with layered menus for many functions. Volume is on the passenger side, and a passenger must reach to the driver's side to adjust temperature. All of this is far easier on the base Plus model.

Getting in/getting out

8.0
Easy for people to slip in and out thanks to large door openings and narrow sills. Rear-seat denizens benefit from seatbacks that are nearly flush with the body structure — no need to scoot forward to exit. But taller rear occupants may have to duck on the way in because the roof slopes down.

Driving position

7.0
The seats are nicely adjustable for routine use, but they lack the bolstering necessary to hold the driver in place for sporty driving. But we're more concerned about the insufficient steering-wheel telescoping range; the wheel doesn't pull back far enough for taller drivers.

Roominess

8.0
There's ample room for 6-footers to occupy the front and rear rows at the same time, although wider passengers may feel as if they're sitting close to the doors. Rear seats have generous toe space. But the overall feeling of roominess is lessened a bit by the bulbous dash and bulky center console.

Visibility

6.5
The low cowl and sloping hood provide a generous view, but it is hard to locate the corners when parking nose-in. The split rear window can be distracting, and cargo can easily obstruct the view. Thick roof pillars create big rear blind spots. You will rely on the camera system and parking sensors.

Quality

8.0
The Prime uses a mix of metal and composites to minimize weight, but the results don't feel cheap or poorly made. It features tight panel gaps, and all the interior pieces feel connected and solid. But certain glossy plastic accent pieces may not agree with everyone.

Utility

6.5
Unfortunately, the Prime's biggest weakness lies in its cargo capacity. The larger battery pack required for EV running lives under the raised cargo floor, so you give up cargo volume. This design means increased liftover height and reach, too. Other than that, the car is easy to live with.

Small-item storage

8.0
There's ample space for your odds and ends. The standard smartphone charging tray is large and functional, and it's handy even if you don't use it for charging. It has a deep center console that can swallow an SLR camera with a lens and door pockets that can hold medium-size water bottles.

Cargo space

5.0
The large battery pack takes a big bite out of cargo capacity because it raises the floor considerably. Something as routine as a grocery bag will be too tall to fit under the security cover and will obstruct visibility through the rear window.

Child safety seat accommodation

7.0
The lower LATCH points are easily accessed underneath a flap of seat fabric, while the top tethers are a little harder to get. The large rear door openings are convenient, but the low roofline toward the rear of the door may make accessing rear-facing seats harder.

Technology

7.0
The large center screen may draw most of your attention, but you'll find it's not efficient at displaying pertinent information. Many of the icons and subpages are excessively large, and some of the data is repeated in the instrument panel. Too much data is split between the dash and center screen.

Audio & navigation

6.5
The audio interface is fairly easy to use, and the JBL sound system is adequate. The touch panel volume adjuster is atrocious; use the steering controls instead. The navigation system is excessively restrictive about what you can do while in motion, and its fonts and graphic design are old.

Smartphone integration

7.0
It has Bluetooth streaming audio, a cover art display, and a USB jack for iPhones and Android devices. But Toyota does not support the newer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces, preferring instead to use its own proprietary Entune system, which isn't nearly as intuitive.

Driver aids

7.5
The Prime has effective blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert systems. It's also equipped with adaptive cruise control, but it turns off automatically as the car slows down past 23 mph with just two subtle beeps. Use it only for highway cruising.

Voice control

7.5
The Prime's voice control system is slow, but ultimately it's easy to use if you take the time to let it learn your voice. Once you know what words and phrases to use for each function, it can be very accurate for navigation, entertainment and even climate settings.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall7.0 / 10
Driving6.0
Comfort8.0
Interior7.0
Utility6.5
Technology7.0

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

One month in and I'm very happy
Mike C,11/23/2018
Plus 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I bought a Prius Prime about a month ago and have been using it to do my 20-mile (each way) commute since then. I charge it overnight using a regular 120v plug next to my driveway. I wanted a no-nonsense commuting car that would be reliable. I leased two other Toyota hybrids before this: a Camry and a Rav4. It came down to the Prime vs. the Chevy Volt. I liked the much longer EV range of the Chevy and many reviews said that it was zippier than the Prius. In the end, though, I went with the Prius because I'm pretty sold on Toyota reliability. So far the car has met or exceeded my expectations. It gets about 20-25 miles on a full electric charge and I've found the MPG while running on gas to be anywhere in the 50-60 range. The driving is not spectacular but I've seen reviews who said its acceleration is too slow to be safe and that is just complete nonsense. It's fine. It's comfortable inside and I'm loving the adaptive cruise control that comes standard. It makes cruise control practical in a metropolitan region like mine (NY suburb). I'll mention three minor annoyances that I've encountered so far: 1. the engine is a bit loud when running on gas mode 2. The car makes an annoying beeping sound inside of the cabin (not outside) while backing up. 3. The trim around the bottom of the car is very low to the ground so it scrapes against the ground when I'm turning into my (steep) driveway from the street. Other than that, I'm happy with my choice. I went a full three weeks commuting and running errands before I had to fill the tank, which is awesome! The last thing I will mention is that what you get with the "base" trim is great - heated seats, all of the radar safety-stuff, and so on. It's a good deal. Sorry, one more positive and two negatives. The positive: I'm 6'2" and I fit just fine in the front. The negatives: very limited storage space in the hatchback and only two seats in the rear.
Prius prime delivers what I wanted most
Mike Smith,08/30/2018
Advanced 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I purchased the PRIUS Prime to add a high MPG auto for the daily commute. So far, I have surpassed the rated MPG and the number of miles in electric mode. My average MPG so far while in hybrid mode is 57 and I have averaged 35 miles in electric mode. It achieves and exceeds exactly what I wanted in fuel economy. Where the PRIUS lacks a bit: it only really has a single zone climate control, the large computer screen gets a lot of glare at certain sun angles and needs the ability to tilt a few degrees to correct for this issue, the sun visor does not extend out when rotated to the door window leaving the sun to still hinder your eyesight, acceleration is a bit slow, when accelerating - the engine is quite loud, and there is very little room in the hatchback for storage.
30 miles of pure EV
Byoung ,08/10/2018
Advanced 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
The only difference between a 2017 and 2018 is that the infotainment screen sings a melody tone when you start the ignition. After owning a 2017 Prius Prime over 20k miles we traded in for a 2018 Prime just wanted a different color. PP never had one issue and the battery charged to 100% every time at home and at public charging stations. $35k minus $4.5k federal minus Colorado $5k rebate your looking at around $25k for a top of the line Prius. Sometimes on top of all tax incentives Toyota cash incentives can be upwards of $5k in northwest region in NY and NJ. Google Honda Clarity charging problems and you will see Honda is not quite there yet compared to Toyota. Get off the couch and go buy it already!
My Prius Prime Plus -
Freddie E.,08/14/2018
Plus 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Yes, fuel economy is great. Daily, my commute is 80 miles both ways. My Prime gets approx. 75 mpg. I believe it includes the 30 miles of pure electric. Tank is only 11 gallons but it sure goes a long way. Yeah, I love it. It is true that it is a little noisy at some speeds and road condition, but it doesn't bother me. Acceleration is sufficient. Hitting the Power button when on hybrid power, really gives the car a boost. And the Eco mode, I hardly use it. Eco mode feel like the car has ED - yeah, erectile, ok you get the message. Now, why does the Plus (lowest model) does not have a lock on the electric cord when car is locked? Why is that a feature only on the upper models? Toyota, shame on you. This is also my first CVT car and I like it. Also true that the engine feels like it is straining when powering the car, but that also doesn't bother me. Overall, I am happy with the car. Oh by the way, the hatch doesn't have a release button inside. Why? I really don't know why. And to close the hatch from the outside, most of the time, you need both hands - and I'm a weight lifter. Love it with all the weaknesses.

Features & Specs

MPG
55 city / 53 hwy
Seats 4
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Hybrid
121 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
55 city / 53 hwy
Seats 4
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Hybrid
121 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
55 city / 53 hwy
Seats 4
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Hybrid
121 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime features & specs

Safety

Our experts like the Prius Prime models:

Toyota Safety Sense
Bundles a variety of standard driver safety aids, including forward collision warning and mitigation.
Safety Connect
This subscription-based emergency assistance telematics system includes a variety of services.
Blind-Spot Monitoring
Alerts the driver if a car is in an adjacent lane when a turn signal is activated.
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime

Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime Overview

The Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is offered in the following submodels: Prius Prime Hatchback. Available styles include Premium 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), Advanced 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), and Plus 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced is priced between $25,998 and$25,998 with odometer readings between 18743 and18743 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime Plus is priced between $23,991 and$23,991 with odometer readings between 22798 and22798 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime Premium is priced between $23,789 and$23,789 with odometer readings between 11647 and11647 miles.

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Which used 2018 Toyota Prius Primes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Toyota Prius Prime for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2018 Prius Primes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $23,789 and mileage as low as 11647 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Toyota Prius Prime.

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Find a used Toyota Prius Prime for sale - 4 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $14,153.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota Prius Prime for sale - 2 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $11,019.

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Should I lease or buy a 2018 Toyota Prius Prime?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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