In-depth reviews

Toyota Prius Plug-In review

The Toyota Prius Plug-In offers genuine zero-emissions range in a plug-in hybrid package that delivers strong efficiency

Toyota Prius Plug-In
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£31,864 - £45,369
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol

Pros

  • Incredible efficiency
  • Refinement and comfort
  • Low running costs 

Cons

  • Infotainment
  • Small boot
  • Pricier than Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In
Car typeElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid34 miles188-217mpg28g/km

While you may know the original Toyota Prius as the car that took hybrid technology mainstream, this is the lesser-known plug-in hybrid variant. Now in its second generation, the Prius Plug-In has evolved as a result of lessons Toyota learnt from the previous model. Its main rival is the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In; both claim an electric range of over 30 miles, while CO2 emissions are 28g/km for the Toyota and 26g/km for the Hyundai.

They also look similar – a function of trying to cut through the air as easily as possible – while being close on performance and efficiency, too. As with the regular Prius, the Plug-In also faces rivals from Kia, the first of which is the Niro PHEV. It’s an SUV with more conventional styling, so if the Prius’ look isn’t for you, this could prove a worthwhile alternative. It uses the same powertrain as the Ioniq Plug-In, but in a less aerodynamic body and carrying more weight, it’s not quite as efficient.

The Prius' technology consists of a 97bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine and what Toyota calls a Dual Motor Drive system to provide better acceleration and an electric-only cruising speed of 84mph. The total system output stands at 120bhp, which means 0-62mph in a claimed 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 101mph. However, it’s not about outright performance. Efficiency and how easy it is to drive are more important. The latest Dual Motor Drive system boasts an 83% increase in electric power when compared with the Prius Plug-In’s predecessor, while it gives a better connection between car and driver, too.

This is helped by a Power mode, which makes the engine and motor setup even more responsive to accelerator inputs. This is just one of three modes, while there are four settings for the hybrid petrol-electric setup. You'll notice the benefits of the Dual Motor Drive system as the Prius Plug-In feels eager enough around town, accelerating off the line with plenty of power and making swift and near-silent progress.

Sophisticated suspension means there’s ride quality to match, too. The setup takes bumps in its stride and feels soft and compliant most of the time, whether that’s in town or at higher speeds, yet it’s also surprisingly good to drive. The Prius delivers decent agility and relatively composed handling for an eco-friendly car, even if the steering has next to no feel.

The CVT automatic gearbox actually helps refinement as long as you don’t accelerate too hard. The assistance from the Dual Motor setup means the engine doesn’t have to rev too hard so long as you don’t press the accelerator flat to the floor – if you do things do get a bit noisy as the CVT gearbox holds the revs high for maximum acceleration.

The system recoups energy when braking, too, so you can top the battery up on the move. Of course, plug in overnight and you can fully charge the Toyota’s 8.8kWh battery pack in just under four hours using a domestic three-pin socket. This drops to around two-and-a-half hours with a wallbox charger that makes the most of the car’s 3.3kW charging capability.

It’s all fairly positive for the Prius Plug-In, then. Plus, thanks to a refresh in 2019, the Prius Plug-In now comes with three rear seats. At launch the car was only available with two seats in the back, which limited the car’s practicality. However, there’s still only 191 litres with the rear seats and parcel shelf in place owing to that bigger battery pack over the regular Prius.

The infotainment is lacking, too, and some of the materials feel cheap, even if build quality is good – but focus on the car’s claimed fuel economy of 217mpg and you’ll be reminded that this is a very cheap car to run, yet there’s a good level of kit, even if, with only two trim levels to choose from, the range isn’t the most expansive.

It might not be quite as competitive as its Hyundai rival on price, while it lacks that car’s practicality too, but the Toyota Prius Plug-In isn’t without merit and it’s a worthy eco-friendly car that you should consider if you’re after an affordable plug-in hybrid. For a more detailed look at the Toyota Prius Plug-In, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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