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    2018 Toyota Prius Prime

    $27,300 - $33,300 MSRP

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2018 Toyota Prius Prime Review

The 2018 Toyota Prius Prime's outstanding fuel economy, fantastic safety scores, and smooth powertrain make it an appealing compact car. However, issues like sluggish acceleration and a frustrating infotainment system pull its score down toward the bottom of the pack.

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent fuel efficiency
  • Loads of standard safety and technology features
  • Smooth transition between gas and electric power
  • Frustrating available infotainment system
  • Languid acceleration

Is the Toyota Prius Prime a Good Car?

The Toyota Prius Prime is a good plug-in hybrid. Its place in the bottom half of our rankings is mostly because the compact car class is very competitive. If you're looking for a hatchback with excellent gas mileage and a substantial list of standard safety technology, you'll like the Prius Prime. This green car also has excellent safety and predicted reliability ratings. Still, some rivals offer more space, superior performance, and an extended all-electric range. 

Should I Buy the Toyota Prius Prime?

Buyers may find the Toyota Prius Prime expensive next to gas-only compact cars, but next to other hybrid rivals, the Prius Prime's pricing falls within the class mean. That said, you may want to consider other hybrids that better suit your needs or budget. For example, the Chevy Volt has a more engaging drive and a much longer all-electric range. Additionally, the Toyota Prius manages to deliver more cargo space at a significantly cheaper price – before factoring in the Prius Prime's available tax credit. (If you qualify for the full tax credit, then the Prime could wind up costing less than the Prius.)

Compare the Prius Prime, Volt, and Prius »

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Prius Prime?

The Toyota Prius Prime was an all-new model for 2017, and there are no major changes for the 2018 model year. This means you could save money by shopping for a 2017 Prius Prime, without sacrificing any features. If you decide that an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017 and 2018 Prius Prime »

We Did the Research for You: 22 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 22 Toyota Prius Prime reviews, as well as fuel economy estimates, reliability ratings, crash test results, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

There are no major changes to the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime. As a result, this review uses applicable research and data from the 2017 and 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain impartial, we do not accept extravagant gifts from automakers, and an outside source handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Toyota Prius Prime Cost?

The 2018 Toyota Prius Prime starts at $27,100. This is above average in the compact car class, but a federal tax credit of up to $4,500 is available. Comparatively, the Toyota Prius has a lower price of $23,475 (not accounting for the Prius Prime's available tax credit), while the Chevy Volt starts at $34,095 (without the Volt's available tax credit).

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

Toyota Prius Prime Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Toyota Prius Prime or Toyota Prius?

The Toyota Prius Prime and the Toyota Prius are very similar cars. Each boasts outstanding gas mileage estimates and numerous safety features. The Prius, however, has far more cargo space and seats five (one more than the Prius Prime). It also has a sticker price of about $3,500 less, though Prius Prime buyers may be eligible for a federal tax credit that could offset the price difference. The big advantage that the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime has over the Prius is that is can be driven roughly 25 miles on electric-only power, which contributes to lower annual fuel costs. Unless you need the Prius' extra space, you’ll likely be better off with the Prius Prime and its long-term cost savings.

Which Is Better: Toyota Prius Prime or Chevrolet Volt?

The Chevy Volt is another plug-in hybrid vehicle, but it has several advantages over the Prius Prime. It gets a much higher all-electric range of 53 miles (more than double the Prime's estimated 25-mile range), provides quicker acceleration, and is reasonably fun to drive. Its infotainment system is also more intuitive than the Prius Prime's, and it includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You can't get either of those smartphone integration features in the Prius Prime. The Prius Prime does, however, have more standard safety technology, greater cargo space, and a lower starting price. The Volt has an available tax credit of up to $7,500, but the Prius Prime will still end up costing less if you factor in its available tax credit of up to $4,500. Nonetheless, if you're willing to spend a little extra money, you'll likely prefer the Volt.

Compare the Prius Prime, Prius, and Volt »

Prius Prime Interior

How Many People Does the Prius Prime Seat?

The Toyota Prius Prime seats four across two rows. Occupants will fit comfortably in the first row of seats, and the rear bucket-style seats are just as accommodating. Unlike some rivals that offer a rear middle seat, the Prius Prime uses the space in between the rear seats as a permanent armrest and drink holder. By nixing the middle seat, Toyota provides more room for passengers in the rear outboard seats than competitors like the Chevy Volt.

Prius Prime and Car Seats

The Prius Prime has a full set of LATCH car-seat connectors in its rear seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards it the highest rating of Good for ease of use.

Prius Prime Interior Quality

The Prius Prime's cabin has a clean layout with standard cloth upholstery and plenty of soft-touch surfaces. Its long list of tech features and standard heated front seats strengthen its appeal.

Prius Prime Cargo Space

There's 19.8 cubic feet of cargo space in the Toyota Prius Prime, which is above average for the class. Still, the base Toyota Prius has 24.6 cubic feet of cargo space.

Prius Prime Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Prius Prime comes with ample standard technology features, including a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, HD Radio, hands-free phone capability, and the Entune app suite. The standard infotainment system is intuitive and fairly easy to use. A huge 11.6-inch touch screen is available, but it forgoes the standard setup's physical knobs, which makes it harder to control.

Read more about interior »

Prius Prime Performance

Prius Prime Engine: Good for a Hybrid

If you're looking for quick acceleration, look elsewhere; the Prius Prime takes some time to get up to high speeds. Its standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with two electric motors to generate a combined 121 horsepower. The only transmission available is a continuously variable automatic. This powertrain is highly fuel-efficient and transitions seamlessly between gas and electric power.

Prius Prime Gas Mileage: Extremely Fuel-Efficient

The Prius Prime has some of the highest fuel economy estimates in the industry. It gets an EPA-estimated 55 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway with its gas engine running. The standard Toyota Prius gets 54/50 mpg city/highway, while the Chevy Volt gets 43/42 mpg city/highway. However, the Volt has 53 miles of all-electric range, while the Prius Prime is only rated for 25 miles.

The Prime is rated to provide about 25 miles of gas-free driving, and it can achieve an EPA-estimated 133 mpg-e combined city/highway. Compare that with the Chevy Volt, which can travel about 53 miles on electricity alone, but with a 106 mpg-e rating. According to Toyota, it takes about 5 hours and 30 minutes to charge the Prius Prime with a standard 120-volt outlet, or 2 hours and 10 minutes when it is plugged into a 240-volt charging station.

Prius Prime Ride and Handling: Not Bad

The Prius Prime isn't going to wow you, but it has comfortable handling that's good enough for everyday driving. The extra weight from the hybrid battery is put to good use: it helps give this Toyota a low center of gravity and limits body roll. The regenerative brakes take some getting used to if you're not familiar with driving a hybrid, but they are more natural feeling than those of older Toyota hybrids. If you're looking for better performance, you'll want to check out the Chevy Volt. It's quicker and more agile than the Prius Prime.

Read more about performance »

Prius Prime Reliability

Is the Prius Prime Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Prius Prime a predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five, which is among the higher scores awarded in our compact car rankings.

Prius Prime Warranty

The Prius Prime comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and an eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid component warranty. A few states cover the hybrid battery pack for 10 years/150,000 miles and other hybrid-related components for 15 years/150,000 miles.

Read more about reliability »

Prius Prime Safety

Prius Prime Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the Prius Prime the highest rating of Good in five crash tests, in addition to a Top Safety Pick designation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hadn't performed any crash tests on the 2018 Prius Prime as of this writing.

Prius Prime Safety Features

The Prius Prime doesn't skimp on standard safety features. All models come with standard Toyota Safety Sense, which includes a rearview camera, forward collision alert, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Opting for the top-level Advanced trim will get you rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, a head-up display, fog lights, and rain-sensing wipers. It also adds Toyota's Intelligent Parking Assist and Intelligent Clearance Sonar, which assists during challenging parking situations and helps you avoid collisions in parking lots.

Read more about safety »

Which Toyota Prius Prime Model Is Right for Me?

The Toyota Prius Prime comes in three trims: Plus, Premium, and Advanced. The base Plus trim comes with plenty of features, and it’s a fine choice for most drivers. It includes a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, HD Radio, and safety technology like forward collision alert, adaptive cruise control, and pedestrian detection. If you want a larger 11.6-inch touch screen, you'll have to move up to the Premium trim. For even more safety features, you'll want to step up to the top-of-the-line Advanced trim. It adds features like rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and a head-up display.

Toyota Prius Prime Plus

The Prius Prime Plus starts at $27,100 and comes with cloth upholstery, heated front seats, push-button start, a rearview camera, heated mirrors, a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker audio system, a USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, navigation, HD Radio, the Entune app suite, and hands-free phone capability. It also comes with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes a rearview camera, forward collision alert, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

Toyota Prius Prime Premium

The Prius Prime Premium ($28,800) adds SofTex leatherette upholstery, an 11.6-inch touch screen, Siri Eyes Free, a power-adjustable driver's seat, and wireless smartphone charging.

Toyota Prius Prime Advanced

The Prius Prime Advanced costs $33,100 and further increases its safety features. It adds rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, a head-up display, fog lights, and rain-sensing wipers. It also includes Intelligent Parking Assist and Intelligent Clearance Sonar, which help prevent collisions in parking lots and aid in difficult parking situations. Additional features include a 10-speaker JBL premium audio system and a heated steering wheel.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

See 2018 Toyota Prius Prime specs and trims »

The Final Call

If you're looking for a fuel-efficient hybrid with a lengthy list of standard technology and safety features, the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime is a vehicle worth considering. Still, it has slow acceleration, and its upgraded infotainment system is tricky to use. Consider the Toyota Prius for similar fuel efficiency, along with additional cargo space and a lower ticket price (without the Prius Prime's available tax credit). For a better-performing hybrid, consider the Chevy Volt.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Prius Prime was all new for 2017, so it is unchanged for 2018; that means everything from its odd styling to its outstanding fuel economy is the same as it was when it debuted." -- Car and Driver
  • "Despite its lack of driving engagement, the Toyota Prius Prime has an awful lot of features available for a relatively inexpensive price. And there are an awful lot of Toyota owners in this country who may want to stick with the brand as they transition to more efficient transportation. For them, the Prius Prime will fit the bill nicely." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "So okay, you lose some trunk space and are limited to four passengers. But you gain more ability to drive on all-electric power – which decreases your overall running costs – and gain some added scoot as well. And when you add in the fact that the Prime actually costs less than a regular Prius if you can take the tax credit (and in California, the ability to use the car-pool lane) the Prime looks to be the strongest competitor the Prius has ever had. Seems there's something to be said for a little sibling rivalry." -- Consumer Guide (2017)
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