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2021 Toyota Prius Prime Review

The 2021 Toyota Prius Prime finishes in the bottom third of our hybrid and electric car rankings. It boasts a long list of standard safety features and excellent fuel efficiency, but the Prius Prime's performance is hindered by its underwhelming powertrain.

Pros & Cons

  • Lengthy list of standard safety tech
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Smooth ride with composed handling
  • Available infotainment interface can be fussy
  • Languid acceleration

7.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.2
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 6.5
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.6 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Toyota Prius Prime?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Toyota Prius Prime a Good Car?

Yes, the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime is a good car. It delivers a smooth ride with composed handling, fantastic fuel economy estimates, and a 25-miles all-electric driving range. It also has lots of standard safety tech. On the downside, this plug-in hybrid is slow to accelerate, and its available infotainment system can be difficult to operate.

Why You Can Trust Us: 19 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 19 Toyota Prius Prime reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

This 2021 Prius Prime review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2017.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Toyota Prius Prime?

The Prius Prime is worth a look if fuel economy is your top priority, but there are several more well-rounded vehicles in the hybrid and electric car class that you should consider before making a decision. The Toyota Prius is a more spacious option with available all-wheel drive, while the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has more horsepower.

Compare the Prius Prime, Prius, and Sonata Hybrid »

2020 vs. 2021 Toyota Prius Prime: What's the Difference?

The 2021 Prius Prime gains standard Android Auto capability, and Toyota's standard suite of driver assistance features now includes bicyclist detection, lane trace assist, and road sign recognition. Otherwise, the 2020 and 2021 models are very similar.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Prius Prime »

Here are the key changes for the Toyota Prius Prime over the last few years:

  • 2017: all-new model
  • 2018: no major changes
  • 2019: no major changes
  • 2020: Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, satellite radio, and two rear USB ports added to standard features list; seating capacity increased from four to five
  • 2021: gains some standard safety features and Android Auto

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Prius Prime, 2019 Prius Prime, and 2020 Prius Prime reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Toyota Prius Prime Cost?

The 2021 Prius Prime starts at $28,220, which is about average for the hybrid and electric car class. The midlevel XLE trim starts at $30,000, and the range-topping Limited starts at $34,000. A tax credit of up to $7,500 is available for qualifying customers. Read How Does the Electric Car Tax Credit Work? for more information.

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

Toyota Prius Prime vs. Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius has much in common with the Prius Prime. Both cars offer excellent fuel economy estimates, a ride that's tuned for comfort, and ­a wealth of standard safety features. There are some key differences, however. Most notably, the Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid that has an all-electric driving range of 25 miles. The regular Prius is a traditional hybrid without an all-electric range. The Prime is also a tad more fuel-efficient (54 mpg in combined city/highway driving versus the Prius’ 52 mpg combined). Advantages for the Prius include more passenger room and cargo space, as well as available all-wheel drive. Unless you need the all-electric driving range that the Prius Prime provides, you're likely better off with the more well-rounded Prius.

Compare the Prius Prime and Prius »

Toyota Prius Prime vs. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid has less trunk space and isn't quite as fuel-efficient as the Prius Prime. However, the Sonata Hybrid is the better vehicle overall. Both cars have good safety scores, and both come standard with many features, but the Hyundai features a more user-friendly infotainment system, additional passenger room, and a more potent powertrain.

Compare the Prius Prime and Sonata Hybrid »

Compare the Prius Prime, Prius, and Sonata Hybrid »

Prius Prime Interior: Lots of Space and Features

Prius Prime Cargo Space

There's 19.8 cubic feet of cargo room in the Prius Prime, which is great for the hybrid and electric car class. Folding down the 60/40-split-folding rear seats expands the cargo area further. However, the Prime has a high liftover height because its battery pack is housed under the cargo floor.

How Many People Does the Prius Prime Seat?

The Prius Prime seats up to five people in two rows. This plug-in hybrid is fairly roomy, and the seats are comfortable. One negative is that the large center console and dash limit overall passenger room in the front row.

Prius Prime and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The middle seat can also borrow lower anchors from the adjoining seats. This LATCH system is very easy to use.

Prius Prime Interior Quality

With the exception of a few surfaces with some plastic accents, the Toyota Prius Prime is filled with quality materials.

Prius Prime Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Prius Prime's standard infotainment system features a user-friendly 7-inch touch screen, along with physical knobs and buttons to control things such as audio and climate settings. For the first time, Android Auto capability is available for the Prius Prime, and it comes standard. The upgraded infotainment interface features a large 11.6-inch touch screen, but it lacks physical controls and suffers from screen glare in direct sunlight, making it harder to operate than the base system.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, six speakers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, satellite radio, a front USB port, two rear USB ports, Bluetooth, and voice recognition
  • Available infotainment features: an 11.6-inch touch screen, wireless device charging, HD Radio, navigation, and 10 speakers
  • Additional standard features: proximity keyless entry and push-button start

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay?, What Is Android Auto?, and What is Amazon Alexa Auto?

Read more about interior »

Prius Prime Performance: Underpowered but Efficient

Prius Prime Engine

This Toyota's powertrain consists of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that combine to make 121 horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is also standard. This powertrain will certainly get the Prime up to highway speeds, but it won’t do it quickly or quietly. On the bright side, the Prius Prime delivers a smooth transition between gas and electric power.

Prius Prime Gas Mileage

The Prius Prime gets 54 mpg and 133 MPG-equivalent in combined city/highway driving. These are excellent figures. This plug-in hybrid can also drive on electric power alone for up to 25 miles.

How Long Does It Take to Charge the Prius Prime?

If you use a 120-volt household-style power outlet, it takes about 5.5 hours to charge the Prius Prime. With a 240-volt outlet, it takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Prius Prime Ride and Handling

The Prius Prime delivers a composed ride over most road surfaces. Its regenerative braking system has good stopping power, but brake feel is a bit numb, as is steering feedback. Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive is not available.

Read more about performance »

Prius Prime Reliability

Is the Toyota Prius Prime Reliable?

The 2021 Toyota Prius Prime has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Toyota 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.

Read more about reliability »

Prius Prime Safety

Prius Prime Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2021 Prius Prime. However, the IIHS gave the similar 2020 Prius Prime the highest rating of Good in five crash tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front crash test.

Prius Prime Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Bicyclist detection (may vary by vehicle and/or trim)
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Lane trace assist
  • Road sign recognition

Available advanced safety features:

  • Head-up display
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Parallel park assist

Read more about safety »

Prius Prime Dimensions and Weight

The Prius Prime is 15.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,365 to 3,375 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime Built?

Toyota builds the 2021 Prius Prime in Japan.

Which Toyota Prius Prime Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Toyota Prius Prime comes in three trims: LE, XLE, and Limited. All models are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that combine to make 181 horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard in all models.

The base LE trim comes with loads of comfort, infotainment, and safety features, which makes it a good pick for most shoppers. If you want additional comfort and safety features, you’ll have to purchase higher trims since there aren’t any option packages available.

Toyota Prius Prime LE

The LE trim starts at $28,220. It comes standard with cloth upholstery, heated front seats, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start. The standard infotainment system includes a 7-inch touch screen, six speakers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, satellite radio, one front USB port, two rear USB ports, Bluetooth, and voice recognition. Standard active safety features include forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, bicyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, lane trace assist, and road sign recognition.

Toyota Prius Prime XLE

The XLE trim (MSRP: $30,000) adds synthetic leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, wireless device charging, an 11.6-inch touch screen, HD Radio, and navigation.

Toyota Prius Prime Limited

Starting at $34,000, the Limited trim adds a 10-speaker stereo, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a head-up display, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and parallel park assist.

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 2021 Toyota Prius Prime specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Toyota Prius Prime doesn’t fare as well as many of its classmates in our hybrid and electric car rankings because it suffers from sluggish acceleration, and its available infotainment system is hard to use. Still, this plug-in hybrid has a lot of redeeming qualities, including excellent fuel economy estimates and a long list of standard safety features.

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 costs a few thousand more than the standard Prius, but if you factor in the … federal tax credit the bottom line is actually less. This makes the 2021 Prius Prime quite a good value." -- Autotrader
  • “Still, for road warriors and commuters looking for a comfortable, safe, ultra-efficient car that’s eligible for both solo carpool access and a sizable federal tax rebate, this most efficient version of Toyota’s Prius lineup makes a prime eco-friendly companion." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
  • "As the industry introduces more electric vehicles based on a crossover body style, the hatchback Prius Prime will continue to distinguish itself aesthetically. Unfortunately, it's also distinguished by apathetic acceleration and unenthusiastic driving responses. Still, for those who want not just a hybrid but a Toyota, this one is the pinnacle of the Prius brand." -- Car and Driver (2020)
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