Toyota Prius Plug-in review: What has the motoring press said?

Selected members of the UK motoring press have been putting the new Toyota Prius Plug-in through its paces on the European launch in Spain, testing its balance between all-electric and hybrid petrol-electric drive.

This is our round-up of their coverage but you can also click on the bold links to be taken directly to each full review.

Learn more: Introducing the 2017 Toyota Prius Plug-in

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John McIlroy, Auto Express:

“If you behave in town and when cruising, [the Prius Plug-in] will reward you with some pretty impressive refinement to match the instant acceleration that only an electric motor can bring. There’s barely the faintest whine as you pull away, and when you’re cruising gently in hybrid mode the combustion engine drops into a background thrum pretty quickly.”

In comparison to the outgoing model, McIlroy noted that when you demand full power, the revs were “quicker than before to die down again, as the system uses a little torque from the electric motor to get over any demands for sudden acceleration or steep inclines.”

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Offering his verdict, McIlroy commended Prius Plug-in as “a technological tour-de-force.” He also asserted that, “If you want to make relaxed progress with some impressive on-road efficiency and a clearer conscience about the environment, it should be on your shortlist for consideration.”

Overall test score: 4/5

Christofer Lloyd: CAR:

Compared with the regular Prius, Lloyd points out that the new Prius Plug-in is around £6,000 more expensive like-for-like “but in exchange you get three times the fuel economy… meaning minimal fuel bills and a silent, smooth drive.”

“For best results,” he recommends, “serve in EV mode; press the respective button to put the Prius Plug-in’s petrol engine into lockdown. It… feels more than fast enough for urban settings, and it’s surprisingly agile around corners too – perfect for dodging London buses and maintaining momentum for maximum range.

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“Hybrid mode, meanwhile, juggles petrol power and electric energy for itself, while a super-pious EV City mode… only calls on under-bonnet fossil fuel fireworks when you mash the throttle into the bulkhead.

“Company car drivers should still be able to send their fleet manager into fits of delirium with colleague-humiliatingly small fuel receipts. More money-saving goodness comes in the form of the free home charger provided courtesy of a government grant and a Toyota top-up.”

Overall test score: 4/5

Matt Saunders, Autocar:

“Bigger-batteried Prius is frugal and works well as an urban EV,” begins reviewer Saunders, in reference to its “official combined fuel economy of a frankly absurd-sounding 283mpg” and “claimed electric-only range of 39 miles.”

Following a conversation with Chief Engineer Shoichi Kaneko, who revealed that he was inspired to come up with an electric vehicle that charged itself, Saunders praised the “optional solar panel roof that can put enough power into its drive battery for a 90% charge in little more than a week.”

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With regard to its on-road behaviour, “Toyota claims a big gain in real-world performance and driveability… by virtue of fitting its first ever ‘dual motor’ hybrid powertrain… and new 352v lithium-ion drive battery.”

“Up to about 50mph, progress feels strong in electric-only mode. The Prius Plug-in has more than enough power and torque to keep its combustion engine quiet and responds to the pedal in the super-keen, linear proportion you want from an electrified car. Once the… drive battery is depleted and you’re beyond the bounds of the city, the car takes on a dynamic character indistinguishable from that of a regular Prius.”

Overall test score: 3/5

Will Dron, Sunday Times:

“Effectively, the Prius Plug-in is two cars in one,” identifies reviewer Dron. “Electric power for short trips, which amount to the majority of journeys, and hybrid propulsion for long-distance motoring without the inconvenience of having to recharge.

“[The Plug-in] isn’t just a standard fourth-gen Prius packed with a bigger battery; it’s a distinct model in its own right… But perhaps the most eyebrow-raising addition is an optional solar roof panel. Toyota reckons that in London sunlight, the panels can generate enough go for 400 miles of electric driving every year. Or if you live in sunny Rome, 715 miles per year. That’s not to be sniffed at.

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“On the road it doesn’t feel excessively weighty. Throw it into a corner and body roll is more than acceptable and it becomes patently obvious on twisty roads that this is perfectly decent in the handling department. Yes, the front end can begin to lose grip on the tightest corners when really pushing… but who will push a Prius hard in everyday driving? On the whole, Toyota has done a fine job of finding a nice balance.”

Overall test score: 3/5

Comments (5)

  1. This looks like the definitive Prius. But it doesn’t seem to have the Tesla-like large touchscreen of the Prius Prime launched in the US that helps to differentiate it from the regular Prius as well as providing some extra value for the much higher price http://www.toyota.com/priusprime/ What’s the thinking on this?

    1. Look more closely. The UK model has the screen in landscape mode (on its side) with air vents over the top of it it – the US model has what appears to be the same screen but in upright portrait mode with air vents to either side of the screen, that’s all!

      1. Are you sure? The images in the European road test show the same landscape format 7″ screen as the regular Prius (and the base model US Prius Prime). The portrait format screen in the upper two US Prime grades is an 11.6″ HD screen. Perhaps we could have US prices as well..

  2. Whilst the ‘old’ model Plug-In Prius that I have been driving for 9 months (covering 20,000 mIles) isn’t as good as this one, it is still a great car and far exceeds most drivers everyday needs. Simple enough for anyone to just get in and drive by pressing the ‘slow’ pedal or the ‘Go’ pedal – but clever enough to also benefit the driver who is smart enough to understand what the car is really doing under the bonnet and learn how to get even more out of it – an ideal mix. It is such a shame that more drivers don’t realise what is on offer and try it out – you can’t hope to understand and appreciate it with just 20 mins round the block.

    This car is worth almost £3,000 a year in extra salary to me in what it saves me and earns me – and is a worthwhile daily steed. Try it!

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