2018 Toyota Prius Prime Review

Toyota is back with its gasoline-electric hybrid, the all-new 2018 Toyota Prius Prime. In addition to having an electric motor and a 4-cylinder gas engine, the ride flaunts to have a bigger battery than its older sibling Prius. The latest iteration of Prius Prime is spacious and aesthetically pleasing on the inside.

The newest avatar of Toyota Prius Prime features a 1.8L 4-Cylinder DOHC 16V engine. It is capable of imparting 121 hp of power and 105 lb.-ft. of torque to the hybrid ride. A single, CVT Automatic, transmission mode is available.

2018 Prius Prime gives competition to Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, Kia Niro FE, Chevrolet Volt, and other similar cars. Even though Prius Prime has an unremarkable engine capability, its authority lies in spacious interior and an above average fuel economy.

What Will Impress You:

  • A 1.8L 4-Cylinder DOHC 16V engine
  • Combined fuel economy of 54 mpg-e
  • Well-arranged cabin with spacious seating
  • Several customization features
  • Superior front crash prevention and other security feats

What Won’t Impress You:

  • Sluggish acceleration
  • Low ground clearance of 4.8 inches
  • Passenger capacity of 4

What’s New in 2018 Toyota Prius Prime?

Though no major changes are introduced in the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime, there are small iterations, including:

  • Interiors of the Toyota Prius Prime is same for all the 3 trims. They come with better dashboard design and improved sightlines to the front and sides
  • While the base model comes with the standard 7.0-inch infotainment screen, the Premium and Advanced trims feature a big 11.6-inch screen
  • Includes an upgraded version of the infotainment system

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Trims and Features

A total of three trims are available for the 2018 Toyota Prius Prima, namely Plus, Premium and Advanced. Each one of the trims flaunts to have a 1.8L 4-cylinder DOHC 16V engine. It is capable of providing 121 hp of power and a 105 lb.-ft. torque. Pricing options starts from $27,100, $28,800 and $33,100 for Plus, Premium and Advanced trims, respectively.

While the Plus trim features a 7-inch infotainment screen, Premium and Advanced trims come with a bigger 11.6-inch screen. Keyless entry to the driver seat is available on all three trims. However, keyless entry on other 3 doors is also available on Premium and Advanced trims. A semi-automated parking function is exclusive to the Toyota Prius Prime Advanced trim.

Trims Plus Premium Advanced
MSRP $27,100 $28,800 $33,100
Features The Plus trim level starts you out with 15-inch wheels, LED headlights, automatic climate control, keyless access (driver’s door only) and start, heated front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio. A suite of driver safety aids, called Toyota Safety Sense P, is also standard and includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and automatic high beams. Premium trim level puts you into the Prius Prime’s sweet spot. It includes a power driver’s seat, an 11.6-inch central touchscreen and upgraded infotainment system, simulated leather (SofTex) upholstery, keyless entry on the other three doors, satellite radio and wireless smartphone charging Advanced trim level adds on a premium audio system, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming mirror, a head-up display, a smartphone app with a charge management system and remote-control climate operation, automatic wipers and a semiautomated parking function.

We Recommend

The 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is all about convenience and comfort. The more you are willing to pay, the better features you get that will make your ride better and enjoyable. As most of the performance and safety perks are standard to all three trims, the Toyota Prius Prime Premium is the best out of the three. About a thousand bucks costlier than the base model, it offers better and enhanced infotainment system with some additional perks.

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Engine and Performance

“The Toyota Prius Prime’s strong suit lies in its superb fuel efficiency and ability to switch from gas to electric power smoothly. Though handling is composed, it’s slow to accelerate, and it doesn’t have a very engaging ride.”- cars.usnews

Engine and Transmission

Though the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime flaunts to have the best engine in its competition, the performance is just the opposite. The latest avatar of Prius Prime delivers only 121 hp of power, which seems puny when compared with 139 hp offered by Hyundai’s Ioniq Hybrid and Kia Niro FE. Chevrolet Volt rules the power category with 149 hp.

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Engine
2018 Toyota Prius Prime Engine
Models Toyota Prius Prime Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (Blue) Kia Niro FE Chevrolet Volt
MSRP $27,100 $22,200 $23,340 $34,095
Engine 1.8L 4-Cylinder DOHC 16V 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder 1.6L 4-cylinder and Full Parallel Hybrid System 1.5L Direct Injection (DI) DOHC 4-cylinder
Transmission CVT Automatic 6-Speed Automatic 6-Speed Automatic CVT Automatic
Power 121 hp 139 hp 139 hp 149 hp
Torque 105 lb-ft 109 lb-ft 195 lb-ft 294 lb-ft

The torque capability of Prius Prime further diminishes its performance with a mere value of 105 lb.-ft. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is nothing much greater than Prius Prime with 109 lb.-ft. of torque. While the Niro FE delivers a powerful torque of 195 lb.-ft. even that is put to shame by the 294 lb.-ft. the amount of torque delivered by Chevrolet’s Volt.

Acceleration

Another downer for the Toyota Prius Prime is its poor acceleration. Kia Niro FE takes about 8.6 seconds to reach 60 MPH from nothing. While Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid requires 8.1 seconds to accomplish the same feat, Volt offers a superior acceleration with a time slot of mere 7.8 seconds. The 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is much behind the competition with 10.2 seconds.

Models Toyota Prius Prime Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (Blue) Kia Niro FE Chevrolet Volt
0-60 MPH 10.2 sec 8.1 sec 8.6 sec 7.8 sec
Quarter mile 17.7 sec 16.8 sec 16.7 sec 15.9 sec
Engine 1.8L 1.6L 1.6L 1.5L
Emission

(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

N/A 3.2 3.5 1.3

While Chevrolet Volt takes only 15.9 seconds to cover a quarter-mile, Ioniq Hybrid and Niro FE take almost 17 seconds. Again, Toyota Prius Prime lags behind by taking 17.7 seconds to traverse a quarter-mile.

Ride and Handling

Handling has always been a pleasing aspect of the Toyota Prius Prime, to which the latest iteration is no exception. Since all three trims work on the same level of powertrain and battery, the handling and steering experience is same on all of them. The wheel is soft as well as the braking system is a breeze.

Braking

Braking capability of the latest iteration of Toyota Prius Prime is yet another area requiring work, but not completely. Even though supporting a curb weight of 3365 lbs., it comes to a halt from 60 MPH to 0 MPH at a distance of 125 feet. This is much better than that offered by lighter Ioniq Hybrid and Kia Niro FE.

Model Toyota Prius Prime Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (Blue) Kia Niro FE Chevrolet Volt
Brake Front(in) 10.0 11.0 11.0 10.8
Brake Rear(in) 10.2 10.3 10.3 10.0
Curb weight(lbs) 3365 2996 3106 3543
60-0 MPH 125 124 138 120

Once again, Chevrolet Volt emerges victorious with a halting distance of 120 feet, best among the competition. So, the braking system of Prius Prime is average, almost a relief compared to the acceleration offered by the same.

Fuel Economy

Undoubtedly, the biggest advantage of going for 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is the impressive combined mileage of 54 mpg-e. It is superior to that offered by the Kia Niro FE and Chevrolet Volt, 50 and 42 respectively.

Model Toyota Prius Prime Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (Blue) Kia Niro FE Chevrolet Volt
MPG (city) 53 57 52 43
MPG (highway) 55 59 49 42
MPG (combined) 54 (mpg-e) 58 50 42

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Exterior

“There’s no risk of the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime getting lost in a crowded mall parking lot. It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It wouldn’t look out of place driving around Hill Valley’s town center in Back to the Future Part II.”- Kelley Blue Book

Dimension and Weight

Neither the curb weight nor the ground clearance is good, which are 3365 lbs. and 4.8 inches, respectively. Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, with 2996 lbs., and Kia Niro FE, with 3106 lbs., are much lighter than Prius Prime. However, Chevrolet Volt is the heaviest with 3543 lbs. of curb weight.

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Rear
2018 Toyota Prius Prime Rear
Model Toyota Prius Prime Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (Blue) Kia Niro FE Chevrolet Volt
curb weight(lbs) 3365 2996 3106 3543
Length(in) 182.9 176.0 171.5 180.4
Width(in)

(w/o mirror)

69.3 71.7 71.1 71.2
Height(in) 57.9 56.9 60.4 56.4
Ground clearance(in) 4.8 5.3 6.3 5.5
Wheelbase(in) 106.3 106.3 106.3 106.1
Track width(in) F/R 60..2/60.6 61.5/62.1 61.6/62.2 60.6/61.8

Wheelbase for the Prius Prime is 106.3 inches, similar to that of Ioniq Hybrid and Niro FE. Chevrolet Volt has a slightly smaller wheelbase of 106.1 inches. 2018 Toyota Prius Prime has the highest length of 182.9 inches in the completion albeit it has the least width of 69.3 inches.

Exterior Features

There aren’t much to the exteriors of the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime as with its interiors. It seems to flaunt a typical chrome build with not much mulled over design. Nonetheless, here are some exterior feats of the hybrid car:

  • Toyota Prius Prime flaunts to have a basic outer design. It isn’t something to brag about but a relief when compared with the appearance of its sibling Prius
  • Dual-wave Rear Glass Design
  • Carbon-fiber Reinforced Polymer Rear Hatch
  • Washer-Linked Variable Intermittent Windshield Wipers

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Interior

“Mostly soft-touch surfaces fill the Prius Prime’s nicely arranged cabin, and both rows of seats are spacious and comfortable. There are various standard technology features, but the upgraded infotainment system’s touch-based controls are frustrating to use.”-cars.usnews

Seating and Comfort

2018 Toyota Prius Prime is comfortable, no doubt about that. However, it can accommodate only 4 passengers, which is lowest in the competition. Ioniq Hybrid, Volt and Kia Niro FE, all of them offer a passenger capacity of 5. In the front the headroom is average, shoulder room is smaller and legroom, 43.2 inches, is the larger.

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Seating
2018 Toyota Prius Prime Seating
Model Toyota Prius Prime Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (Blue) Kia Niro FE Chevrolet Volt
Passenger capacity 4 5 5 5
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg)

(In.)

39.4/54.2/43.2 39.1/56.1/42.2 40.1/56.0/41.7 37.8/56.5/42.1

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

37.2/53.0/33.4 37.4/55/35.7 39.1/55.2/37.4 35.8/53.2/34.7

At the back seat, the latest iteration of Prius Prime flaunts to have 37.2 inches, 53 inches and 33.4 inches of headroom, shoulder room and legroom, respectively. None of them is impressive, yet acceptable at its best.

Infotainment System

The smart infotainment system inside the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is simple and powerful. It works straightforwardly with a simplistic menu structure and handy hard-button shortcuts. Connectivity options via Bluetooth are quick and reliable.

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Infotainment
2018 Toyota Prius Prime Infotainment

The navigation system is average, while non-navigation functions are above average. Connecting and using smartphone apps is easier, though not completely convenient. Physical knobs, as well as the climate controls, are a delight and relief to use.

Interior Features

Prius Prime develops over the Prius with a pleasing style and a larger 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Interiors of all the 3 trims are almost the same. Seat coverings differ for each trim option though. On the inside, the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime packs:

  • The seats are designed while keeping comfort in mind. Each of the doors has soft-touch panels and the dashboard is made from rubberized plastic that adds to the overall interior aesthetics of the ride
  • Bigger and better 11.6-inch screen is available in the Premium and Advanced trims
  • Exposed carbon-fiber weave is built along the edges of the hatch, which looks more than good

Cargo Capacity

With 19.8 ft. cube of cargo volume behind 2nd row, 2018 Toyota Prius Prime provides better spacing than Niro FE and Chevrolet Volt. However, it lags behind the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid that has 26.5 ft. cube of the same space.

Model Toyota Prius Prime Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (Blue) Kia Niro FE Chevrolet Volt
Volume (ft.cube)

(Behind 2rd row)

19.8 26.5 19.0 10.6
Volume (ft.cube)

(2nd Row Folded)

24.6 N/A N/A N/A

While 2nd row folded is not available in Ioniq Hybrid, Niro FE, and Volt, Toyota Prius Prime wins the round with a capacity of 24.6 ft. cube.

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Safety Ratings and Reliability

Ranging from rear child safety locks and ESC to Low Tire Pressure Warning, 2018 Toyota Prius Prime considers safety seriously. Dual Stage Driver, and Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags are coupled with Airbag Occupancy Sensor to save passengers from extreme situations.

Driver and passenger knee airbag and rear side-impact airbag are also available in the undesired impact scenarios. Head restraints & seats and roof strength are good, and so are small overlap front driver side. While headlights are acceptable and LATCH is good, front crash prevention feat is superior.

Safety Features

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ABS and Driveline Traction Control
Side Impact Beams
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
Audi pre sense front Forward Collision
Low Tire Pressure Warning
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
SIDEGUARD Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
Airbag Occupancy Sensor
Driver And Passenger Knee Airbag and Rear Side-Impact Airbag
Rear Child Safety Locks
Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners

IIHS Safety Rating (Top Safety Pick)

Crashworthiness

Small overlap front driver side Good
Small overlap front passenger side N/A
Moderate overlap front Good
Side Good
Roof strength Good
Head restraints & seats Good

Crash Avoidance & Mitigation

Front Crash Prevention Superior
Headlights Acceptable
LATCH Good

2018 Toyota Prius Prime Head-to-Head Competition Check

Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet’s Volt is a beast in terms of power and torque, which are 149 hp and 294 lb.-ft., respectively. Moreover, it has the best acceleration in the competition. It takes only 7.8 seconds for the ride to hit the 60 MPH mark from 0. CO2 emissions are also lowest in the competition with an emission value of mere 1.3.

The biggest downer for the Chevrolet Volt is the hefty price-tag of $34,095. Also, it is the bulkiest car in the competition with a curb weight of 3543 lbs. If that’s not enough then adding all these facts with the poor fuel economy of 42 makes Volt a disastrous choice to make.

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (Blue)

The biggest perk of Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is its inexpensive price-tag of $22,200, which is the least among the competition. It delivers a fair performance with its 1.6L GDI DOHC 16-Valve Inline 4-cylinder engine. Acceleration is good with 8.1 seconds for hitting 60 MPH from nothing. Fuel economy of 58 mpg-e is the most impressive in the competition.

Ground clearance isn’t impressive at 5.3 inches, still better than that offered by the Toyota Prius Prime. The Ioniq Hybrid takes 16.8 seconds to cover quarter-mile, which is only better than the Prius Prime. Torque is low at 109 lb.-ft., much behind than the Niro FE and Volt.

Kia Niro FE

Priced at $23,340, Kai Niro FE is a great option for those looking for a powerful ride. It features a 1.6L 4-cylinder and Full Parallel Hybrid System, capable of delivering 139 hp of power and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. Acceleration and handling are good. A fuel economy of 50 mpg-e is acceptable. Offers the best ground clearance of 6.3 inches among the competition.

Downsides of Kia Niro FE is led by 138 feet required for coming to a halt in emergencies. Moreover, it offers the most CO2 emission value of 3.5. 2nd row folded cargo volume is not available and front row legroom of 41.7 inches is the least among the competition.

Final Verdict for 2018 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime offers one of the best fuel economies. It is an excellent option for those looking for a car that is capable of delivering the most economical performance in the city as well as on bustling highways. However, it falls short of the expectations of powerful acceleration and lightweight built.

Safety features of the car are impressive and of a high standard. If the 4-passenger only build is acceptable, then going for Toyota Prius Prime is a good thing to do. The infotainment is good but somewhat frustrating at times. However, if it is economy that matters the most then Toyota Prius Prime is worth the expense.

 

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