Triple Threat: The Prius Prime’s Electric, Auto, and Hybrid Modes

The 2018 Toyota Prius Prime promises even more versatility with its three driving modes.

By Wheels.ca Wheels.ca

Aug 9, 2018 4 min. read

Article was updated 5 years ago

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A plug-in hybrid car is the best of both worlds.

On one hand, its efficient electric engine makes it one of the greenest and most affordable forms of transportation. On the other, its gasoline generator provides a significant amount of extra range, making it fit for long-distance road trips.

But when Toyota reengineered its premium plug-in hybrid — the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime — it didn’t stop at making a well-rounded vehicle. Instead, Toyota’s engineers developed the Prius Prime to be a class leader with 1,035 kilometres of total combined electric and gas range, a five-and-a-half-hour total charge time (two hours and 10 minutes with a 240-volt outlet) for its larger 8.8-kilowatt per hour lithium-ion battery and an estimated fuel economy rating of 1.8 litres per 100 km. All of this adds up to an estimated cost of $600 per year in electricity and gas, representing an average savings of $4,750 over five years compared to a similarly equipped, non-plug-in vehicle.

But on top of all this, Toyota’s engineers wanted to give drivers flexibility — so they gifted the car with three selectable drive modes (electric, auto and hybrid) to make it quiet, efficient and best of all, powerful.

EV Mode:

As with its previous plug-in model, Toyota’s 2018 Prius Prime comes with an Electric Vehicle (EV) mode — but it can now be used in even more situations than before.

While other plug-in vehicles may be hampered with unrealistic constraints for electric-only operation, the Prius Prime will stay in EV mode at speeds of up to 135 km per hour, making short highway trips quiet and serene. Acceleration, too, has improved in EV mode thanks to Toyota’s first-ever implementation of a dual electric motor system for the Prime. And depending on your chosen route, you can eke out even more range thanks to the Prime’s regenerative braking system, which recovers energy usually lost during braking and stores it back in the lithium-ion battery to be used later. Regenerative braking also relieves the traditional braking system of much of its work, meaning your brakes won’t wear out as quickly — which in turn saves you money on maintenance costs.

With a full charge of its battery pack, the Prime can drive without intervention from the gasoline engine for up to 40 km. Toyota’s engineers have also designed the Prime’s battery pack to last the lifetime of the car, helping the model offer one of the best retained values on the market after four years of ownership.

toyota prius prime

Hybrid Mode: For Those on the Move

If you’re on the road for significantly more than 40 km at a time and you want the most efficient mode for your trip, Hybrid mode is the one for you.

In this mode, the Prius Prime’s gasoline engine comes into play to provide primary motivation while maintaining a consistent battery charge for efficient, longer-distance driving. The reengineered and thermally efficient 1.8L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission for smooth acceleration, efficient driving, and lower maintenance costs. Combined with the Prime’s electric drivetrain, the four-cylinder engine delivers economical running without sacrificing performance, offering a combined 121 horsepower.

EV Auto Mode: For a Balanced Ride

If you’re driving a mix of city and highway and short and long trips, the Prius Prime’s EV Auto mode is a dream come true.

Like its Hybrid mode, the Prius Prime’s EV Auto mode leverages both the gasoline and electric powertrains for efficient driving, but the electric powertrain is the preferred motivator and the car will run on electricity only at the best times and in the best environments to do so. That means the electric drivetrain will handle most shorter trips in urban and suburban environments on its own, but the Prius Prime will switch to the gasoline engine for motivation when climbing steep grades as it’s the most efficient solution for those scenarios.
Toyota Prius Prime

A Truly Smart Driving Experience

In addition to its varied drive modes, Prius Prime wants to learn about you and how you drive. Available intelligent technology such as Predictive Efficient Drive can up your efficiency even more by learning your common routes and how you drive them. For instance, if there’s a hill you coast down every morning on the way to work, the Prius Prime may disengage its gasoline engine and employ a moderate amount of regenerative braking to recharge its battery. Conversely, if there’s a stretch of highway that requires quick acceleration from a highway onramp, the Prius Prime will make all its power available to you on the fly.

Though some consumers believe plug-in vehicles to be unnecessarily expensive, the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime proves its worth, both in the long and short term, through its intelligent and innovative drive modes and features. The Prime can be found at your local Toyota dealer starting at $32,990 before provincial incentives.

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