8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.3
Safety: TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2019 Toyota Prius Prime Review

The 2019 Toyota Prius Prime ranks in the middle of the compact car class. While it has fantastic fuel economy and lots of standard features, this hatchback’s sluggish acceleration and a tricky infotainment system hold it back in our rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding fuel efficiency
  • Lots of standard safety features
  • More cargo space than most compact cars
  • Unhurried acceleration
  • Upgraded touch screen can be distracting

Is the Toyota Prius Prime a Good Car?

The Prius Prime is a good choice if you’re looking for a hatchback with stellar gas mileage and lots of standard safety features. However, the compact car class is highly competitive. Many rivals offer more space, easier-to-use infotainment systems, peppier engines, and brisker acceleration.

On the plus side, the plug-in-hybrid Prime can drive up to 25 miles on electric power, and it has incredibly low estimated fuel costs after the gas engine kicks in. You may also be eligible for tax credits or incentives, which help offset this Toyota’s high base price. For more on this, check out How the Electric Car Tax Credit Works.

Should I Buy the Toyota Prius Prime?

The Toyota Prius Prime has some appeal, and its long list of safety technology helps it stand out in the class. However, there are other hybrid vehicles that may better fit your needs. The high-tech Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid has more connectivity features, such as standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Chevrolet Volt has more than twice the electric-only range of the Prime, though it is a bit pricier. You might also consider the hybrid Toyota Prius. Not only does the Prius have more cargo room than its plug-in counterpart, but it also has newly available all-wheel drive for 2019.

Compare the Prius Prime, Ioniq, and Prius »

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Prius Prime?

The 2019 Prime belongs to a generation that launched for the 2017 model year. Toyota did not make any major changes to this hatchback since then, so you could save money with a 2017 Prius Prime and get a virtually identical vehicle.

To further research used models in this generation, read our reviews of the 2017 and 2018 Toyota Prius Prime. If you decide 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, 2018, and 2019 Toyota Prius Prime »

We Did the Research for You: 14 Reviews Analyzed

To make our car rankings and reviews as consumer-oriented as possible, we do not rely on our personal opinions. We instead analyze hard data, such as cargo dimensions and mpg ratings, as well as the opinions of the automotive press. This Toyota Prius Prime review draws on 14 reviews and incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2017 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Toyota Prius Prime Cost?

With a base MSRP of $27,350, the Toyota Prius Prime Plus is more expensive than most compact cars. Among hybrids and plug-in hybrids, though, that price is fairly typical. The top-level Prime Advanced starts at $33,350, which is just under the starting price of the Chevrolet Volt. The Prime is also available with some tax credits that may help offset its retail price.

For great savings at your local Toyota dealer, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program. 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?

As a hybrid, the Toyota Prius doesn't quite match the fuel efficiency of the plug-in Prius Prime, but it’s still a great hybrid. The Prius has a larger cargo hold and seats five people, as opposed to the Prime’s capacity of four. For 2019, the Prius is newly available with all-wheel drive, which isn’t available in the Prime. Both vehicles have a ton of safety features and outstanding mpg estimates. The Prius is likely to save you more money upfront, but tax incentives available on the new Toyota Prius Prime may make up that difference. Ultimately, both Toyotas are good hybrid vehicles, so choosing between them is a matter of personal taste.

Which Is Better: Toyota Prius Prime or Honda Clarity?

The Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is a midsize car. It has more rear-seat room than the Toyota, as well as a more upscale cabin. It also has modern connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which are absent in the Prime. The Clarity has a peppier engine and longer electric range too – 47 miles compared to the Prime’s 25 miles. On the other hand, the Toyota has more cargo space, higher mpg and MPGe ratings, and a lower base price. Tax incentives aside, the base Toyota Prius Prime Plus will save you around $6,050 over the base Clarity. Both vehicles are decent plug-in hybrids. Picking one is a matter of preference.

Compare the Prius Prime, Prius, and Clarity »

Prius Prime Interior

How Many People Does the Prius Prime Seat?

The Toyota Prius Prime seats four people in two rows. Cloth upholstery and heated front seats are standard. Seating upgrades include SofTex synthetic leather upholstery and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

The front seats are roomy and comfortable, and the rear seats are accommodating as well. By nixing the middle seat, Toyota provides more rear-seat space per person than the Chevrolet Volt, though the Volt can carry a fifth traveler in a pinch.

Prius Prime and Car Seats

This vehicle has two complete sets of LATCH connections for securing child-car seats. The hardware is easy to use, and it received the highest rating of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Prius Prime Interior Quality

The Prius Prime has a nicer cabin than some rivals. There are some soft-touch surfaces, mixed with some futuristic elements.  

Prius Prime Cargo Space

This hatchback has 19.8 cubic foot of cargo space, which is more than some compact sedans offer. Still, the regular Toyota Prius has even more room. Folding the 60/40 split-folding rear seats can increase the available room. 

Prius Prime Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The base Toyota Prius Prime Plus features the Entune infotainment system, a 7-inch touch screen, a navigation system, satellite radio, HD Radio, a six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, and a USB port.

Available features include an 11.6-inch touch screen, wireless smartphone charging, and a premium 10-speaker JBL stereo.

The smaller touch screen and its accompanying knobs are user-friendly, but many critics found the larger screen in higher trims to be hard to use. It lacks physical controls and can be distracting to use while driving. Neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto is available on any trim. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Prius Prime Performance

Prius Prime Engine: More Efficient Than Urgent

The plug-in-hybrid Prius Prime comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that produce a combined 121 horsepower. An electronic continuously variable transmission is also standard. The powertrain feels underpowered, and acceleration is leisurely. On the plus side, the transition between gas and electric power feels smooth.

Prius Prime Gas Mileage: Outstanding

This is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles you can buy. The Prius Prime earns ratings of 54 mpg and 133 MPGe, and it has a 25-mile range on electric power. For more information, check out What Is MPGe? In comparison to the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid, the average driver will save about $50 a year in fuel costs with the Prius Prime.

Toyota estimates that charge times for this plug-in hybrid range from about five and a half hours with a standard 120-volt outlet to two hours and 10 minutes with a 240-volt outlet.

Prius Prime Ride and Handling: Comfortable and Capable

This vehicle provides a gentle ride, with few road bumps disturbing passengers. The Prius Prime also remains composed around turns with minimal body lean. The regenerative brakes may take some getting used to if you aren’t familiar with driving a hybrid. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is not available.

Read more about performance »

Prius Prime Reliability

Is the Toyota Prius Prime Reliable?

The 2019 Prius Prime earns an almost-perfect predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Toyota Prius Prime Warranty

The Prime has 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

As of this writing, neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have crash tested this vehicle.

Prius Prime Safety Features

Standard safety features include a rearview camera and a suite of driver aids called Toyota Safety Sense P. It includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.

The top-of-the-line Advanced trim comes with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors (called Intelligent Clearance Sonar), parallel park assist, and a head-up display.

Read more about safety »

Which Toyota Prius Prime Model Is Right for Me?

Toyota offers the plug-in-hybrid Prius Prime in three trim levels: Plus, Premium, and Advanced. We review the non-plug-in Toyota Prius hybrid separately.

Each trim shares the same powertrain, and there are no major packages available with any of them. To get the most safety features, you’ll have to step up to the Toyota Prius Prime Advanced, though it costs $5,700 more than the base trim. That said, even the entry-level Prius Prime Plus comes with an impressive number of standard safety features and a nicely equipped cabin.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the Prime may be available with some tax incentives to help offset its high retail price. For more information, read our article How Does the Electric Car Tax Credit Work?

Toyota Prius Prime Plus

The Toyota Prius Prime Plus has an MSRP of $27,350. The standard Entune infotainment system has a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, HD Radio, satellite radio, a six-speaker stereo, a USB port, and Bluetooth. The Plus also comes with cloth upholstery, heated front seats, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Toyota Safety Sense P is standard. This suit of safety technology includes a pre-collision warning and braking system, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

Toyota Prius Prime Premium

With an MSRP of $29,050, the Premium trim builds off the Plus with a larger 11.6-inch touch screen, Qi-compatible wireless device charging, synthetic leather upholstery, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

Toyota Prius Prime Advanced

Prices start at $33,050 for the Toyota Prius Prime Advanced. This top-level trim has a 10-speaker JBL stereo, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a head-up display, 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 2019 Toyota Prius Prime specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Toyota Prius Prime is a decent vehicle. For a compact car, it’s highly fuel efficient. It also has spacious rear seats, lots of cargo space, and plenty of standard safety features. On the other hand, it’s slow to accelerate, and its updated infotainment system can be tricky to use. Some hybrids with peppier performance include the Honda Insight, as well as plug-in hybrids like the Hyundai Ioniq and Chevrolet Volt.

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

  • "The Toyota Prius Prime is for those consumers tempted to buy a fully electric vehicle, but who aren't willing to contend with the range anxiety that typically goes hand-in-hand with owning an electric car. For anyone who can charge frequently and thus maximize the electric drive, it's a compelling car. Otherwise, using it as a hybrid compromises fuel economy. You also get a $4,500 federal tax incentive, at least for now." -- Consumer Reports
  • "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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