Toyota’s Prius Prime hit this year’s TechCrunch in San Francisco, with a clear emphasis on showcasing the Prime’s technology upgrades.
The Prius Prime debuted earlier this year at the New York Auto Show. As we mentioned then, the Prime competes closely with the Chevy Volt. This was the Prius Prime’s west coast debut, before it hits dealers in the fall.
The Volt has a longer electric-only range (53 miles vs. 22 for the Prime), but the Prime’s 120 mpg-e rating beats the Volt’s 106, and so the Prime can claim the longest range of any plug-in at 600 miles.
The staggered headlights are part of what distinguishes the Prime from the regular Prius.
The Prime’s tail lights also deviate from the Prius’s vertical shapes – the Prime’s ringed shape is displayed here on the door to the virtual-reality experience that accompanied the Prime’s TechCrunch reveal.
The Prime’s interior upgrades to an 11.6-inch HD screen, and it’s impressive.
This particular Prime had leather seating, but cloth will be standard. We just wrote about the improved quality of the new-generation Prius’s interior, and that applies to the Prime’s finish as well.
One of the Prime’s biggest advantages over the Volt is rear-seat roominess – it seems an odd choice on Chevy’s part to give the Volt such a cramped rear seat, but the Prius Prime’s is spacious and comfy, purple spotlighting aside.
The Prime’s beefier batteries raise the trunk’s floor a bit…
…and you’ll probably be laying grocery bags on their side to fit them under the cargo cover.
Charging cords are stored under the trunk’s raised floor.
To save weight, the Prime’s hatch is made of carbon fiber, and the hood is aluminum.
The Prius Prime is Toyota’s best thinking so far in making a plug-in hybrid. Chevy’s Volt has styling that’s more handsome, with lower-cut proportions, but rear-seat room suffers. Then the choice between them perhaps would come down to which measure of efficiency would you value: the Volt’s longer electric-only range, or the Prius Prime’s longer overall range?
Buyers will be able to decide for themselves when the Prius Prime hits dealers this fall.