Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Prius Prime is a primo ride in all ways

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – They call it the Prius Prime, but Prius Mega, Prius Ultra and Prius Supreme would have worked too.

New for 2017, the Prius Prime is a plug-in, five-door hatchback that’s simply the best Prius I’ve ever driven.  Toyota calls it’s the most advanced and best equipped of all Prius offerings today.  No argument from me there.

There are so many ways the Prime stands out in the ever-growing Prius field.  It literally looks different from other Prius midsize models with unique, sporty styling on the front and back.  It rides low for maximum aerodynamic efficiency.

The Prius Prime also has a “dual wave” rear window that reportedly enhances the car’s ability to cut through the wind, but the horizontal strip splitting the rear view from the driver’s seat takes some getting used to.

Inside, the dual colors and materials made me feel like I was in command of a very special vehicle capable of lifting into space.

From the commander’s chair, I had easy access to controls for quad-LED headlights, heated/power exterior mirrors, heated front seats and a color head-up display.

Dominating the center stack of controls is the mother of all display screens, a massive 11.6-inch, high-definition wonder that is vertically positioned.  It’s like having a giant flat-screen TV in your car, complete with detailed map data, audio information and a even a little Prius avatar that greets you when you start up and drives down and away to wish you farewell when you shut off the car.

In sport mode, the tested Advanced model was the peppiest Prius I’ve sampled, with enthusiastic jumps from a standing start and impressive acceleration on the fly.  My Prime was instantly responsive, something I cannot say about other hybrids I’ve driven.

In electric-only mode, the Prius Prime is capable of traveling up to 25 miles, and in full gas-electric configuration, you can figure on driving forever and a day – an EPA-estimated 133 miles per gallon equivalent.

The list of safety features is tech-loaded and exceptional.

Given all this, it’s no surprise that the Prius Prime is priced higher than your typical Prius hybrid -- $33,100 to start, and with my special package of extras, the bottom line on the sticker read $36,305.

In my estimation, it's worth that, especially for an environmentally-conscious motorist who wants more from a hybrid and plans on keeping the machine for a decade or more.

Anything not to like?  For me, with audio systems off, the Prius Prime emits a high-pitched whine that sounds very much like an emergency vehicle approaching from perhaps a block away.  I eventually adjusted to it, but it shook me the first couple times around.

Prius perfection in this ride?  Pretty darn close, I’d say.

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