Prime Time: The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Toyota Prius Prime
The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime.
With hybrid sales in general---and the Prius' in particular---down, it might seem like dark days for this segment.  But the Toyota Prius Prime is a brilliant vehicle.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Toyota Prius Prime
2017 Toyota Prius Prime.
Three months ago, I wrote how the current Prius is the best ever, let down largely by gas prices and polarizing styling.  The Prius Prime is the best of the best, and a huge leap over its predecessor, the Prius Plug-In Hybrid.

Greater battery capacity means a 26-percent improvement in mileage.  The Prius Prime's EPA estimate is 133 MPGe, which rockets it to the top of the TireKicker's Top 10 Fuel Savers list on the right side of this page.  The old plug-in Prius was number eight with 95 MPGe.

That extra battery capacity means you can go farther and faster on purely electric power.  The EV range is now 25 miles at speeds of up to 84 miles per hour, making it more likely that you can get through a typical day without using a drop of gasoline.  And if you do have to use more than electricity, the combination of that pure EV range and the improved hybrid estimate of 55 city/53 highway means a total range of 640 miles.  That is a staggering number for a small passenger car.

Interior view of 2017 Toyota Prius Prime interior
2017 Toyota Prius Prime interior.
Our test vehicle was the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced, which starts at $33,100 and includes rain-sensing windshield wipers, quad-LED auto on-off headlights, LED fog lights and accent lights, heated power outside mirrors, an 11.6-inch HD multimedia display with a 10-speaker premium JBL audio system with navigation, a backup camera and the Entune app suite.  There's also a new color head-up display, Softex-trimmed heated front seats, pushbutton start and Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging.  Those of us who own iPhones must go to the aftermarket for Qi-compatible cases or charging adaptors.

Our test vehicle also had options, including the universal tablet holder ($99), illuminated door sills ($299), alloy wheel locks ($65), paint protection film ($395), 15-inch alloy wheels ($899) and a glass breakage sensor ($359).

With $865 delivery processing and handling fee, the as-tested price was $36,081.  Which is not that much more than loaded Priuses that don't offer the range of the Prime.  Gasoline prices may be low now, but that will not always be the case.  The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime's glory days may be ahead.