Review: Toyota Prius Plug-In (2017)


30 miles of realistic pure electric range. Practical, smooth, comfortable and quiet. Well-equipped.

Thousands of pounds more than the standard Prius. Needs to be charged frequently or makes no financial sense.

Toyota Prius Plug-In (2017): At A Glance

While the Toyota Prius Plug-in shares a lot with the regular Prius – including extremely relaxed driving dynamics - it has the benefit of a 30 mile pure EV driving range. It’s pricier than a normal Prius, but for eco-friendly commuting it’s excellent.

The tweaked styling is built on top of the same basics as a normal Prius. There’s a 1.8-litre petrol engine in the front and a smooth CVT automatic transmission, but the plug-in has a dual electric motor system and a bigger battery, so it can reach motorway speeds and cover 30 miles without using any fuel.

Charging the battery pack from the mains takes two hours from empty with a Mennekes plug, or just over three hours with a normal, three-pin household socket. You can also help extend the battery range with an optional solar roof, while the heating system uses a gas injection system to improve driving range on cold days.

When the battery runs low, the Prius Plug-in behaves just like a normal Prius, with the 1.8-litre petrol engine kicking in under acceleration or when up to speed, while charging the battery pack enough for low speed, stop start driving. That means you can cover long distances without worrying about finding a charger.

The cabin layout is shared between Prius and Prius plug-in, with a central, colour instrument display, touchscreen system and stubby little gear selector. There’s masses of space for family use, including a spacious boot and generous leg room – although the sloping roof means taller passengers might struggle for hat room.

If you have a short commute and a place to charge you could feasibly drive the Prius Plug-in for months before running the tank dry. And if you’re a company car driver, the tax savings are significant too – so there’s plenty of reason to consider the Plug-in – but do some careful maths to make sure it’s better value than the regular and still excellent Prius. 

What does a Toyota Prius Plug-In (2017) cost?

List Price from £24,350
Buy new from £22,258
Contract hire from £227.26 per month

Toyota Prius Plug-In (2017): What's It Like Inside?

Inside, the Prius Plug-in shares a lot with the regular Prius. In fact, from the driver’s seat it’s close to identical, with just a few different details for controlling the electric vehicle modes. The layout, with its central colour instruments and head-up display, looks futuristic and build quality is very good.

It’s easy to get comfortable and there are lots of areas to store odds and ends, thanks in part to the minimalist gear selector mounted in the centre stack, freeing space in the centre console. There’s a wireless smartphone charger, along with a touchscreen system with navigation and Bluetooth.

In the back row there’s plenty of leg room and a decent amount of head room, although the sloping roof means taller passengers may find things a little tight. The boot has 360 litres of capacity and has a nice wide opening tailgate – which is made of carbon fibre. It does everything a family car needs to.

The trim structure is simple, with just Business Edition Plus and Excel variants on offer. That means there’s loads of standard equipment including sat nav, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, lane departure warning, a reversing camera, two-zone climate control and Bluetooth with audio streaming.

Standard Equipment: 

Business Edition Plus comes with Toyota Safety Sense pack, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, hill start assist, head-up display, reversing camera, electric windows, electric folding door mirrors, auto lights, six-speaker audio, eight-inch screen with nav, Bluetooth, DAB+, Bluetooth, USB port, wireless phone charger, dual-zone climate control, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, LED headlights, 15-inch alloy wheels.

Excel adds leather upholstery, 10-speaker JBL audio, auto wipers, front and rear parking sensors, park assist.

Child seats that fit a Toyota Prius Plug-In (2017)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Toyota Prius Plug-In (2017) like to drive?

Officially the Prius Plug-in is capable of 283mpg and has emissions of 22g/km. That’s nonsense and simple a quirk of the way the official economy test works – but with a pure electric range of up to 30 miles between charge, it’s feasible some owners could make a tank of petrol last for months.

Motorway speeds are easily achievable without the petrol engine kicking in and the heating system has been designed to have minimal impact on range. That means most commutes are possible without using petrol all year round – and charging is quick. It takes just over three hours from a three-pin socket or less with a Mennekes plug.

If the battery does run down then the Prius plug-in behaves just like any other Prius. The 1.8-litre engine quietly whirs into life and the CVT transmission delivers smooth driver and respectable performance. It also helps top up the battery, so low speeds and stop/start traffic are still taken care of in EV mode.

Obviously the Prius Plug-in performs best in town, where the smooth automatic transmission, supple suspension and excellent refinement make journeys – even those in busy traffic – very relaxed. But even on a country road or motorway the car copes well and is relaxing and comfortable, if not especially fun.

There are four driving modes to choose from – EV, HV, EV City and Battery Charge. The latter means you can take care of a stretch of motorway and save your pure EV range for an upcoming urban drive, where it’s more likely to be useful. But most of the time it’s fine to just leave the car in EV mode – it’ll start the engine when needed.

Safety technology includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assistance and a hands-free auto parking system. The LED headlights also automatically dim to prevent dazzling other drivers, while still illuminating the area around them for maximum visibility. 

What have we been asked about the Toyota Prius Plug-In (2017)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Is a PHEV a better choice than a hybrid?

I have owned Toyota hybrids for a few years now and have been satisfied with the quality and performance. My wife and I cover about 12,000 miles a year. It's mixed driving (motorway, country roads and some city). Because my wife does quite a lot of shortish driving, on country roads in particular and sometimes into South London from Kent, I have wondered whether our next car should be a plug-in Toyota Prius. However, I have read about the "lugging a heavy car around" after the electric charge runs out. This has confused me because I was under the impression that when the charge runs out it would perform like our current Toyota Auris Hybrid and recharge during the journey? Was I mistaken and does it then perform like an ordinary petrol car?
Yes, once the battery's flat it will operate like a normal hybrid using the engine to recharge the battery and recuperating energy normally lost under braking. It's not very efficient, though - the batteries are heavier than those used in a standard hybrid and it's recommended that to get the best from a plug-in hybrid, you charge regularly. If most of your wife's journeys are within the electric range of the Prius Plug-in and you have a home charger (or can get one), it makes a lot of sense.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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