Is the Toyota Prius Prime really that big of a deal?

Discussion in 'Prius Prime' started by Steve, Oct 6, 2017.

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  1. Steve

    Steve New Member

    The Prime is selling like crazy, despite the fact that it offers limited all-electric range. But it's a Toyota, so that's why right? It seems Akio Toyoda is finally beginning to see the light, however. Think of how sales will be when the automaker releases a pure electric model.

    Are there any Prime owners out there that could fill us in on your experience? Will Toyota get it in gear and move into the electric car realm with more vigor?
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  3. ColoradoPrime

    ColoradoPrime New Member

    Yes, I sold my Chev. Volt at 30,000 miles, because I was worried it would not last and it did have some issues along the way. Bought a 2017 Prius Prime from Hollywood Toyota and had it shipped via the Auto Shipping Group. Few Primes were available in my region and most of the available ones were more expensive versions. I wanted the "Plus" base model. And, buying from Calif. and shipping it here saved money...Here in Colorado it is possible to get $4500 tax credit from IRS if you have that much tax, plus $5000 rebate (no tax needed) from the State of Colorado, so that brings the base model down close to $20K before taxes, registration etc. Have only had the Prime about 3 weeks now. It is the Blue Magnetism color. I have never had a car that so many people think is really cool looking--that blue is close to a teal color but quite metallic looking. Relative to the Volt, the Prime has less cargo space with the rear seats folded down, but it is still very usable around town--I have not tried to put a mountain bike in it yet. I did not like that it came with Toyo tires, I would have preferred Michelin. It has tire goop, but oddly also has a jack and tire iron, no donut or full spare. The ground clearance is about like on the Volt. The battery is rated at 25 miles of electrical range, but as many people report I have consistently been getting 31-32 miles, although that is likely to go down as winter approaches. The one surprise is that when the electrical range is used up, I have often been getting over 60 mpg. On one recent 290 mile trip that included about half on gravel roads at 30 mph, including 2000 feet of elevation gain, and half on state highways I got 67 mpg, based on a fillup measurement, but that was close to the 66 mpg registered on a screen on the car. I like the smaller screen on the Plus model, but I am not a fan of screens in any case. I use my cell phone and google maps to navigate, not the Toyota maps that are available on their screen. Those maps do not zoom and continue to show detail very well. The car to me is noisy and slightly bumpy on the road as it transmits all the road irregularities, something the Volt did not do, but I have gotten used to it. The technology on the Plus base model is useful and works well. I was surprised to find adaptive cruise control included, as I did not think that came with the Plus. Forward collision warning and Lane Departure are nice and the Lane Departure buzzer is not obtrusive. Automatic bright-dim headlights work generally OK. The Volt could always beat a muscle wagon off the line, but the Prime not so much. In Eco mode, it tries to discourage you from accelerating quickly, but in normal mode it does have a little zip off the line, just not enough to squeel the tires. I do not like getting a 0-100 grade on how fast I slow down or speed up, so just avoid that screen. Most people think there are too many details on the screens, but after a while you do figure them all out and there is interesting information. The Prime has much more comfortable second-row seats than did the Volt. Headroom is fine for me at 6 ft. 3" in both front and rear seats. We live 10 miles from town, so put a lot of miles on in a year. We have solar panels sufficient for the house and car, a superinsulated passive solar house (only 1300 sq. ft.) and it is all net 0 except for 1 cord of firewood per year for evening fires. So far, we have driven about 1900 miles at 153 miles per gallon so about 12 gal. of gas. But, I see several people on Prius Chat who have 200+ mpg. The car will go about 650 miles on a full tank of gas assuming you start with 25 miles of electric range. I think the car is a real gem, yes I wish it had more cargo space and ground clearance and a better ride, but these are minor matters. It is a remarkable achievement to combine very high gas mpg and enough electrical range for many commutes with useful technology in a functional car that is likely to last a long time. I am happy to answer any questions...
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  4. Steve

    Steve New Member

    Wow! Thank you so much for this. Lots of great information and very insightful. I appreciate you taking the time.
  5. ColoradoPrime

    ColoradoPrime New Member

    You bet, Steve. It's a really interesting time. I forgot to mention one other thing I learned from my local dealer, who is not able to accept direct shipments of Primes for sale at this point, as there is a machine that Toyota requires them to have that costs something like $90K and initiates incoming cars. It's too much expense for them so far, given the market at this point. It is kind of odd, because they have sent two employees to be trained to service the Prime. Anyhow, if you are interested in a Prime but find that your local dealer has none, see whether they can get one from another dealer in the region. You'd have to buy it sight unseen, but Toyota divides the US into sales regions and it is possible for a local dealer to get a car from another dealer at no cost to you if it is within the sales region, only takes a few days, and can come by a flatbed shipment.
  6. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Speaking not as a Prius driver, but merely as an interested observer who keeps up on the news from InsideEVs:

    I think it's no surprise that the Prius Prime is selling so well, for two reasons:

    1: The Prius brand has proven to be pretty popular, so those looking at a Prime shouldn't have the (sensible) uneasiness that many or most of the general public has about electric cars.

    2: The Prime has really attractive financial incentives from Toyota, which in many cases actually makes it less expensive than the other models of Prius.

    So that's a no-brainer!
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  8. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Friday before a Christmas vacation to Oklahoma, a motor mount bolt broke in our BMW i3-REx taking it down for two weeks. I reverted to our 2010 Prius but it lacked dynamic cruise control and collision avoidance that the BMW had. On a whim, I test drove a Prius Prime and before I could buy it the next day, it was sold. So I sold the 2010 Prius and bought a Prius Prime Plus in Rhode Island and flew up to drive it home.

    The 1,200 mile drive home, 56 MPG, included an 80 mile stretch in the clouds in the Poconos where nobody slows down. The radar operated, dynamic cruise control meant I could follow high-balling trucks and local cars knowing the Prime would detect a problem before I could see it. The first tank was 600 miles to Roanoke VA where as I approached it, the lane reminder alerts and fatigue warnings had suggested it was time to take a break along with the flashing "E". The second tank reached Huntsville and took 699 miles a week later to completely dry.

    The third tank went 2,100 miles, EV in town. It wasn't until July that I needed to run a Gen-1 Prius traction pack to Knoxville when I filled it up. Patchy fog and a 15 mile stretch near the Hiwassee river, again local traffic didn't slow down but radar, dynamic cruise control meant I could follow safely and stop if there were a pile-up. Again, 58 MPG in part due to the slower speeds from the Tennessee border to Huntsville.

    Around town for up to 3 stops, the 25 mile range Prius Prime is the best choice because it is so efficient. Otherwise, I take the BMW i3-REx, 72 mile EV range, without a problem. If for any reason I run out of charge, the engine in either car means I make my appointments without a charging delay.

    Either car fully meets our requirements and have demonstrated outstanding EV efficiency around town and highway speeds on cross country trips. They have four seats which handles my wife, her two dogs, and me. Both have 2" receivers so we can carry my wife's folding wheel chair on the rear with no significant MPG hit. Dynamic cruise control and collision avoidance makes them both safe in traffic.

    Bob Wilson
  9. CCIE

    CCIE New Member

    The two areas where the Prime is debatably better than the Volt are price and reliability.

    The MSRP of the Prime is lower than the Volt. But, once the Volt's average dealer discounts and higher federal tax credit are taken into account, the it's about the same price as the Prime.

    As for reliability, that comes down to how you view GM & Toyota. I've never had an issue with reliability on the five GM cars I've owned, including my Volt. Things do break as the cars age, but nothing significant. The Prime tends to get a free pass, even though it's new, just based on Toyota's reliability track record. I tend to think the reliability differences between most cars (aside from FCA) are minimal these days.

    In every other area, the Volt easily beats the Prime. EV range and 0-60 performance are things where the Volt is far-and-away the better car.
  10. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    The Volt is a nice plug-in car but there are other areas not mentioned in your review:
    • TSS-P (Toyota Safety Sense P) - is standard on the Prime but the local dealer tells me you have to order the top trim Volt and add the TSS-P equivalent. Between the custom order, top trim and adding the safety option, several thousand dollars are added to the price of the Volt. This also means future used Primes will all come with TSS-P whereas it won't be assured in used Volts.
    • 1.9 gallons Prime vs 2.4 gallons for 100 miles - when running on gas such as vacation or cross country trip, the Prime is much more fuel efficient. This gives the Prime a range of 640 miles versus 420 miles for the Volt. Range that allows passing through high gas-price areas to buy the affordable gas.
    • slight, 2ft{3} volume - the Prime is slightly larger inside than the Volt which I noticed in the driver position. The Volt felt like a foxhole but the Prime was more open like our BMW i3-REx.
    I do like the liquid cooled batteries of the Volt versus air cooled Prime. Our BMW i3-REx has liquid cooling and that appears to handle temperature extremes very well. But it is too soon to say if air cooling that didn't work out so well for the Leaf five years ago is a persistent problem. The Gen-1 Prius had battery cooling issues but the subsequent Prius models were much improved.

    Bob Wilson
  11. CCIE

    CCIE New Member

    I always forget that Toyota didn't use a liquid TMS for the Prime. It really blows my mind that anyone would do that after seeing Nissan's experience with the Leaf battery degradation.

    I have a Mazda with their low-speed auto-braking. And I've driven Subarus with their active safety systems. But, I've yet to have an experience that made me say it's a must-have. I'm sure my opinion will change as the technology continues to advance. But, for the moment I prefer having the option not to spend money on it.
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  13. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    The Toyota experience with air cooled batteries predates Nissan. We had a 2003 Prius (Gen-1) and it taught a lot of lessons about air cooling:

    Air cooled batteries can work but the engineering is more exacting and testing is not trivial. For example, the Toyota NiMH battery modules decreased the cell-to-cell resistance and the plastic case finally became a brick. A Gen-4 battery module is perfect for rebuilding the earlier Prius packs.

    Also remember there are more than one LiON chemistries with different thermal characteristics during charge and discharge. This is just another engineering variable that has to be addressed.

    In my case, I use dynamic cruise control in all traffic, especially rush hour. The car automatically maintains its place in traffic responding in fractions of second to changing conditions. For me, it significantly reduces a driving task so I can pay more attention to traffic to either side and think strategic. Best of all, I no longer get pissed at the assh*les and it operates the car near peak efficiency. It does this by uniform, efficient acceleration and quicker response to slow downs without closing the distance so the mechanical brake is needed.

    Understand I don't fault those who prefer more involved, manual operation. Just I prefer a calmer driving experience with less stress. A comfy chair from point A to point B which is also why acceleration is pretty low in my ranking. Sure I have a BMW i3-REx and it is a quick little rabbit but driving is just a means to reaching the end of a journey.

    Bob Wilson
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  14. Jack

    Jack Administrator

    As has been stated, the Prius Brand is very strong, so while the Prime may not be that big of a deal, anything with the Prius name is gonna sell like hotcakes. I personally like the Volt more, but yes the price difference is hard to ignore.

    I wonder how this will affect reliability and long term use, in comparison to the Volt.
  15. SR-71

    SR-71 New Member

    I originally had planned to move from a Prius Gen 2 to a Tesla Model 3. I had an early Model 3 reservation but as the operational and cost details started coming out on the Model 3 I quickly realized this smoothly advertised $35k EV was actually closer to $60k after its much desired options were added (less tax credit). Plus during long trips the thought of waiting around at a Charging Station for 20 to 90 minutes waiting for its battery to charge, as ICE and Hybrid vehicles smiled and waved as they drove by, didn't thrill me much. Plus I learned my state charges an extra $100 each year to register EV's, plus I also learned my insurance company charges extra to insure a Tesla. And I also wasn't too keen on having to drill down through the Model 3's center mounted console menus for nearly every funtion, even opening its glove box! The more I looked into the details of the Tesla Model 3, the less sense it made to me. Bottom line, I liked the idea of never having to pay for gas again, but it was an eye opener when I realized just how much more it costs, not to buy gas. And $20,000+ pays for one heck of a lot of gas!

    I ended up canceling my Tesla Model 3 reservation, sold my Prius Gen 2, and bought a fully loaded Prius Prime Advanced. After the dust settled (promotional & end of year sales, and the $4502 tax credit), I ended up paying approximately half the cost of a fully loaded Tesla Model 3. The Prius Primes 25-30 EV range handles 90% of my daily driving needs and when its engine does activate it sips gas at a rate of 54 to 62mpg. To put this into perspective, I've used about 1.5 tanks for gas during the last 4 months. So yes, I think the Prius Prime IS a big deal! :D

    One last thought. Granted EV companies are breaking new ground and my hat is off to them, but they no doubt have huge sums of money rapped up in R&D and they of course want to recoop their investments, which results in relativity high vehicle costs. On the flip side, consider the thousands of components that go into an ICE or Hybrid drive train which are NOT REQUIRED in an EV, then bounce that against the current EV's prices. Before I consider buying an EV again its cost and charging time will need to drop considerably.
  16. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I find it amusing (in a good way!) that you talk about "driving an EV" as if a PHEV like the Prius Prime isn't an "EV". Of course it's an EV! If the term "EV" meant only BEVs and not other types of cars, then we wouldn't need the term "BEV".

    Welcome to the EV driving club! :)

    Glad to know that the rather short ~25 mile AER (All Electric Range) of the Prius Prime works so well for you. Most drivers will need more AER, and I'm glad that in general, all-electric ranges for both new BEVs and new PHEVs are going up as the years pass.
  17. SR-71

    SR-71 New Member

    And I find it amusing you're so easily amused! (In a good way.) Acronyms aside, I've never heard of the Prius Prime referred to as an EV, but it is certainly a Hybrid/Electric vehicle. I think most people consider true EV's, electric only vehicles.
  18. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I have no problem with that and use plugin hybrid for our cars. We get the cost savings and quiet ride of an EV and the long legs of an engine.

    Bob Wilson
  19. glockgirl

    glockgirl Member

    I totally agree with you as well. I just traded in my Prius V and got Honda clarity plug in. I looked in to model 3 when they were first announced, but with in a few hrs of doing research, it wasn't for me. 35k was bottom price, but once all the features added up, it wasn't worth it. I love my plug in, mine has a 50mi range and I have been able to drive to and from work for 20 days with out using more then 10mi worth of gas. On long trips, it's nice to know I can just fill my 7g tank in 5 min and go 300 mi. Until they add more charge station to equal gas stations and to equal fill time to charge time, pure electric will always be behind a plug ins.
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  20. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Adding hill climb metric for Brindley Mountain:

    • Use Brindley Mountain hill climb route:
      • 525 ft (160 m)
      • 1.1 mile (1.76 km) run
      • 8% grade
      • 55 mph (88 kph) ascend speed, replicating typical truck performance
      • 65 mph (104 kph) descent speed, replicating typical truck performance
      • includes acceleration at base; turn around at top, and; deceleration to stop
      • 82F (28C)
    • Reset trip meter at start and record:
      • round trip distance
      • mi/kWh (may be a problem for Prime as I need to find the trip value display)
    • Metrics
      • Use dash cam to record trips
      • Use GPS to track speed and route

    2017 Prius Prime in EV mode:
    longitude | latitude | miles | kWh | speed
    34.65289|-86.57163|0.0|0.00|0 mph
    34.53006|-86.58991|9.0|2.14|55 mph
    34.50485|-86.60262|2.4|1.42|55 mph
    34.53334|-86.58965|2.2|-0.25|65 mph
    34.59196|-86.56261|4.4|0.60|55 mph
    • Earlier benchmarks showed 5.6 kWh of usable battery capacity
    • Going up the hill, 2.4 mi (3.8 km), the Prime EV used 1.42 kWh
      • includes first half of U-turn
      • ~2070 ft (631 m) maximum EV hill climb at 55 mph from 100% SOC
      • ~1656 ft (505 m) maximum EV hill climb at 55 mphfrom 80% SOC
        • the engine can CHARGE to 80%
    • Descending the hill, 2.2 mi (3.5 km), the Prime EV gained 0.25 kWh
      • may have been stopped ~0.2 mi (0.3 km) early

    Bob Wilson
  21. Mark Miller

    Mark Miller New Member

    Bob Wilson, here is a question you may have researched at some point: Prime (and later gen Prius, as I understand?) gives you a 0-100 "grade" on each driving segment from stop to stop, based on acceleration, cruise, and deceleration. The algorithm severely punishes quick braking, so if a light turns yellow ahead within 100 m, you can decel as close to a linear rate as possible, and you are still going to get a lower score. Not that I care that much! It is still a very efficient car as I drive it. But my question: is regen efficiency really as sensitively dependent on a slow regen rate as the grade algorithm implies? Do we have a quantitative characterization of this?
  22. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber


    You're asking about the 'scoring' system and truth be told, I don't use it although I have enough Prius history to understand why it came into being.

    In 2005, there were two camps of Prius owners of which one was 'driving style' and the other 'an engineering approach.' A driving style advocate (i.e., see branched from the Prius community to advocate "hypermiling" driving style. Trying to be the Pied Pipper of hypermiling, he branched to other makes and models but whenever trying to demo to the press, he would borrow a Prius. He has been hired to apply his techniques to non-Prius so when the VW diesel cheat arrived, his first concern were any records set in those diesels ... his achievement records lost.

    The engineers try to understand how the hardware and software works. So we try to noodle out what various cars can achieve . . . their strengths and weaknesses.

    IMHO the 'scoring' system tries to substitute for the 'hypermiling' excesses. It tries to give suggestions to help break the worst habits learned driving ordinary gas and diesel cars. It is a training system rooted in the engineering world. For example, gentle braking that maximizes regenerative energy instead of heating brake pads.

    Bob Wilson
  23. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Not surprising that you got an excellent trip MPG if half of it was driven at 30 MPH. That is very close to the optimal speed that people trying for distance records use. If your entire trip was done at highway speed, your MPG would have been significantly lower.

    The Volt has always been notorious for having a cramped back seat. If GM had made the rear end of the car a bit wider and had eliminated the hump in the floor, the car would sell much better. But many people (including myself) think that was a deliberate strategy by GM to not make the car attractive enough to compete well with its more profitable models.

    I wish people wouldn't use the term "MPG" when they're talking about combined electric-powered plus gas-powered mileage. That needs another term to indicate it's a different metric. The term "MPG" is a useful metric when it's measuring only the miles powered by gasoline; much less useful when it's not. Some of us call the combined mileage "fake MPG", as opposed to real MPG.

    I'm glad you're enjoying your car, and may it give you many years of trouble-free driving!

    However, I personally wish more people would opt for cars with greater EV range. 25 miles is certainly better than nothing, but both the Volt and the Honda Clarity PHEV are up in the 45+ mile range. Toyota could do far better if it really wanted to.

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018

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