2017 Toyota Prius Prime Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime was new.

Scorecard

Interior: 8.1

With seating for four and a condensed cargo space, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime offers less usable interior space than a regular Prius. That said, the Prime's hatch still offers more room than most compact cars. It also feels pretty nice inside, thanks to a rich array of standard features and roomy rear bucket seats. The Prius Prime's tech features are largely intuitive, though a few critics find the larger optional touch screen distracting.

  • "As a result of the simple interior design, you direct much of your attention to the Prime's two multifunction displays. First is the dashboard-integrated horizontal instrument cluster, a design cue modified from the outgoing Prius generation, allowing the driver to cycle through various vehicle data ranging from the speedometer to infotainment functions and detailed summaries of fuel efficiency or power delivery. It's a bit disconcerting at first for the driver to see mostly naked, empty space where the instrument cluster would be in most vehicles, but you soon get used to it. The speedometer, in particular, is helpfully positioned closest to your forward eyeline, and top-trim Prius Prime Advanced models come with a crisp-looking head-up display." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Unlike the old Prius Plug-in, the Prime has styling and features that make it stand apart from the regular Prius models. This makes sense because what good is it having the latest iPhone if everyone thinks you're still swiping and pinching the old version." -- New York Daily News
  • "The interior is nice enough, and that massive 11.6-inch hi-res screen will be a big draw among the technological elite, as well as among those who can't afford a Tesla but really want the Tesla's 17-inch screen. You can pinch/pull it just like your iPad!" -- Autoweek

Seating

The 2017 Prius Prime offers seating for four and comes standard with bucket-style seats in the rear. Heated front seats and cloth upholstery are standard. The available SofTex synthetic leather is the closest you can get to leather upholstery; it's standard in all but the base trim. An eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar is also available, as is a heated steering wheel.

For the most part, passenger space inside the Prius Prime is about what you'll find in most compact cars. Overall volume is a smidge less than the Prius, but because the Prime has one less seat in the back, rear-seat passengers can revel in extra inches on either side. The raked roofline does cut into head space a little for taller passengers, but it doesn't impact visibility. The driver has a pretty good view out all sides of the Prius Prime, with the dual-pane rear window offering an obstruction-free view out the back.

  • "Seating is limited to four passengers, one fewer than in the regular Prius. While the practical reason for this decision is largely to save weight so the Prime could meet its efficiency targets and fit the larger battery pack, the benefit is a more spacious and upscale experience for the rear passengers." -- Automobile Magazine
  • Inside the Prime, there's a good amount of room up front, but while legroom is fine in the rear (my 5'9 frame had enough legroom even behind a fully rearward front seat), headroom might get tight for those over about 5'11. Visibility is only restricted to the rear corners (the standard rearview camera helps here), but oddly, the sunvisor leaves about a third of the side window uncovered when swung to the side because it doesn't extend." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's some Prime action in the back seat as well. A pair of adult-sized bucket seats replaces the standard Prius' three-passenger rear bench seat, separated by a center console complete with a storage bin, cup holders and an armrest. Rear-seat headroom and legroom are generous. No one has to be stuck in the middle, either, riding the 'hump' as can be the case with the Chevy Volt and its cramped three-across rear seating. The Prime seats just four, keeping dignity intact." -- New York Daily News

Interior Features

The base 2017 Prius Prime comes loaded with more standard features than many competing hybrids, starting with an infotainment center that includes a 7-inch touch screen, smartphone integration via the Entune App suite, navigation, a rearview camera, a USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, hands-free phone capability, and six speakers. It also comes with more advanced safety tech than you typically see in cars at this price point: The standard Toyota Safety Sense puts adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and forward collision alert with pedestrian detection in every 2017 Prius Prime.

Also standard are steering wheel-mounted infotainment controls, a proximity key, and push-button start. Options such as Siri Eyes Free, wireless charging for smartphones, a 10-speaker JBL premium audio system, a head-up display, a larger touch screen, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and park assist are available in uplevel models. An intelligent clearance sonar system is also available, which uses a variety of sensors to detect and avoid collisions with stationary objects at low speeds.

Prius Prime shoppers have a choice between a 7-inch infotainment touch screen and a colossal 11.6-inch touch screen. Both are attractive and connect to the mostly responsive and straightforward Entune interface. Because the larger screen commandeers the bulk of the available space in the center stack – leaving no room for the redundant buttons mounted in the base model – some test drivers say the smaller screen and its accompanying physical knobs are easier to use and less distracting than the larger screen.

See 2017 Toyota Prius Prime specs »

  • Straight out of the Tesla playbook, the screen dominates the center stack, flanked by capacitive touch buttons to handle additional functions like volume. Tech geeks will love the new screen, and the system feels legitimately advanced, especially for a mainstream brand like Toyota. And while the touchscreen is responsive and designed cleanly with minimal clutter and great functionality, it's inherently distracting." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The base Prime Plus comes with a 7-inch touchscreen augmented by volume and tuning knobs. Climate controls consist of flipper levers to adjust temperature, fan speed, and mode. By contrast, Premium and Advance have a large, vertically oriented 11.6-inch touchscreen where everything is done through the screen or repetitive-step virtual pushbuttons; there are no knobs or flippers. Though this all comes off as appropriately 'techy,' we found the base system easier to use." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The feel and look from the driver's seat is pleasant and mostly intuitive, except for the fact that too many physical buttons have been removed (in the higher trim levels) and turned into virtual blocks on the 11.6-inch touchscreen or touch-sensitive pads in the center console. ... The screen itself is user-friendly thanks to Toyota's decision to keep your navigation information almost always available on the top of the screen … leaving the bottom half open to rotate through audio or heating/cooling controls, energy flow information, and other details." -- Autoblog

Cargo

The 2017 Prius Prime has 19.8 cubic feet of cargo space, which is above average for a compact car but not as substantial as the standard Prius' 27.4-cubic-foot hatchback. The shrunken cargo hold is a direct result of the Prime's rechargeable battery, which is mounted in the rear of the car. Standard cargo features include a tonneau cover and a 60/40 split-folding back seat.

  • "Prime's cargo floor is raised to accommodate the larger battery - leaving a 3-inch step down to the folded rear seat back - but the area is wide at the rear and includes some under-floor storage space. Despite losing some space to the larger battery, cargo room remains quite good. The higher floor steals some of it and results in a 3-inch drop down to the folded rear seatbacks, but the area is wide at the rear with an under-floor bin beneath. In any case, there's still more usable (or at least, expandable) space than in any hybrid sedan, which typically sacrifices some or all of its 'pass-through' capability by placing the battery up against the back of the trunk wall." -- Consumer Guide
  • On the downside, cargo space in the Prime is reduced by more than seven cubic feet compared to the Prius. This is due to the larger 8.8 kWh battery residing under the raised cargo floor, equipped with almost twice as many Li-ion cells. But at 19.8 cubic feet accessible through a large hatch opening, the Prime still has as more space back there than a typical sedan, and it's plenty roomy for the typical Costco run and that's without folding down the rear seatbacks." -- New York Daily News
  • "The trunk frame is, no joke, made of exposed carbon fiber. While this is to some degree a marketing boon, the trunk door is easy to lift and close. " -- Automobile Magazine

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