BY H. THROTTLE
I’m starting to like these various Toyota Prius hybrid cars. Years back, I thought that the batteries would be short-lived, cumbersome, powerless, and that the technology would just go away. The dynamic increase in fuel economy, accomplished with four-cylinder turbo engine stretching into the 40-mpg range has prevailed.
The electric-car technology has advanced, right along with the combustion engine world, and now these electric-gas combinations are reaching up to 133 mpg for a 100-mile drive.
Throw in the combination of battery and 1.8- L-engine and the fuel economy is rated at 54, but the test car is achieving 66 mpg in a recent drive to Pueblo.
The test drive was a 2017 Toyota Prius Prime manufactured in Aichi, Japan and arriving in Torrance, Calif. Suggested retail price on this “Titanium Glow” painted beauty is $33,100.
This seems to be a lot of car for the sticker price. The vehicle is very attractive, stylish, eye-catching and modern. This is a very smart car with the latest automotive technology in every category.
Starting with the power plant, the batteries have a 100,000-mile warranty and 60,000 miles on the powertrain. The system works with a 1.8L-four-cylinder engine that is very efficient. The hybrid synergy powertrain operates from both electric and battery power and can be selected by a mode-selection control button.
Range on battery power is well over 100 miles and the battery takes about four hours to charge from a standard garage plug-in receptacle. The charging equipment tucks neatly into a trunk compartment and easily fastens onto a right fender receptacle for charging. A message is posted on the center console, reporting the amount of charge the car has received and the time left to complete.
The car is fully operational with or without the battery component and is very efficient in both modes. Performance in this Prius is outstanding and gives the driver a numerical grade on driving performance when parked at your destination.
Given a choice to drive a different car on a 200-mile trip, I stuck with the Prius Prime for several reasons. The suspension front-end suspension and electric power steering gives a pinpoint drive with a double wishbone rear suspension and great stability to drive, especially in the windy trip along the Front Range mountains.
The bucket seats are comfortable and the dash is totally different with the controls moved to the center console at eye level. This hybrid takes a little more care and thought to drive because the engine does not start when the start button is pushed. A group of lights let you know that the car is activated and a green “Ready” light gives you the message that you can move forward or backwards.
The silence from lack of engine noise takes some getting used to and the driver must be very aware of any objects or people behind the silent car. A huge center screen has the computer details and surrounding areas surveyed by cameras. The large 11.6-inch screen accumulates dust at a rapid rate.
All controls seem to be moving to the center console. This creates a hazard for the driver who must glance at the center controls, taking eyes off the road. Some controls are on the steering wheel, but that even detracts eye contact from the road.
The Prius has the latest SST (smart-stop technology), which helps prevent the car from striking a forward object.
A passenger complained to me that rear-seating room was cramped. That is an issue if the car is to be used for transporting rear-seat passengers.
This is an ideal car for a commuter and drivers with an interest in scientific advancement in technology and green innovations that really work in our changing energy-driven world.
The Prius Prime is the best hybrid driven to date and is a very smart car for an intelligent driver and receives a grade of A.
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