The Toyota Prius Plug-In: How To Nearly Double The Mileage of a Prius

2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In front 3/4 view
2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In.
When the 51 miles per gallon city/48 miles per gallon highway of a standard Toyota Prius is not enough, there's a solution. The Toyota Prius Plug-In.

2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In rear charger port view
2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In.
While a Prius is a hybrid, mixing gasoline and electric power to enhance fuel economy, the Prius Plug-In is, much like the Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle with an engine that keeps you from being stranded when the battery runs down.  Unlike the Volt, however, which switches to a pure gasoline engine after the first 35 miles and then returns only 37 miles per gallon, the Prius Plug-In will operate in EV mode below 62 miles per hour for 11 miles, and then switch to hybrid mode, delivering 50 miles per gallon.

That 11 miles may not seem like a lot, but if you live within 11 miles of work and have a charger at home and at work, it's possible you might not dip into hybrid mode. And charging is quick---only three hours from household current, 90 minutes from a 240-volt charger.

The Prius Plug-In's EPA-estimated EV/Hybrid mileage is equivalent to 95 miles per gallon.  That is two better than the Volt and only four fewer than the all-electric Nissan Leaf (which has no backup motive power once the battery is drained).

Interior view of 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In
2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In interior.
Beyond that, the Prius Plug-In is very much like the standard Prius---which includes the way it drives. The base price of $34,905 includes a six-speaker JBL audio system with Bluetooth, USB and HD Radio, a premium navigation system, climate control, smart key, pushbutton start and cruise control.  Our test vehicle also had the Technology Package, which adds LED headlights with auto-level control, headlight cleaners and integrated fog lamps, dynamic radar cruise control (which maintains a pre-set distance between you and the car in front of you) and pre-collision system.  That costs $2,610.  There was also carpeted floor mats and a trunk mat for $225.

The as-tested price, including $810 delivery processing and handling fee, was $38,550, a price very much in the mainstream of Prius and Hybrid/EV pricing.  But given Toyota's reliability and the  economy and flexibility the plug-in hybrid system offers, the Prius Plug-In would seem to have an edge over its competition.