EV technology is constantly improving, but range anxiety may still leave many drivers feeling nervous about committing to a fully electric vehicle. Plug-in hybrids are an excellent middle ground for folks who want to improve upon a hybrid without going all-in on an EV, and Toyota offers several of these vehicles to choose from. According to the automaker’s website, there are currently two Toyota plug-in hybrid options: the Prius Prime and the RAV4 Prime. Here’s what you need to know about this technology and the Toyota vehicles that offer it.
How do plug-in hybrids work?
Toyota’s plug-in hybrids offer a range of benefits — but how exactly do they work? U.S. News explains that plug-in hybrids utilize both electric batteries and gas, giving drivers an easy backup plan if they are unable to get to a charging station during their journey. Often, this type of vehicle will utilize regenerative braking to help charge the batteries each time the car brakes.
As with full EVs, the batteries of plug-in hybrids will drain more quickly with frequent use of features such as the radio and air conditioning. Unlike EVs, however, plug-in hybrids can switch to gas power as needed.
The combination of hybrid technology and plug-in electric power means that these vehicles can travel further than fully electric vehicles while also utilizing less gas than standard hybrids. Typically, plug-in hybrid vehicles offer drivers some range flexibility by offering different drive modes. For drivers who want to run on electricity alone, for example, these vehicles offer an EV drive mode.
What to expect from the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid
The 2021 Prius Prime is one of just two plug-in hybrid options offered by Toyota. It starts at approximately $28,220 and is available in three trims: LE, XLE, and Limited. The base LE features a 1.8-liter engine that makes 121 hp. In hybrid mode, it gets 55 miles per gallon in the city and 53 miles per gallon on the highway. In EV mode, the Prius Prime gets 133 MPGe.
When this plug-in hybrid is in EV mode, it has a range of approximately 25 miles at speeds of up to 84 mph. In hybrid mode, this range is expanded to 640 miles.
The Prius Prime comes with Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes features such as enhanced vehicle stability control, smart stop technology, and traction control. Other standard safety features include pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, and dynamic radar cruise control.
The standard infotainment system features a 7-inch touchscreen, and is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. It also allows for hands-free phone usage.
What you’ll get with the Toyota RAV4 Prime
Toyota’s second plug-in hybrid option, the RAV4 Prime, features a 2.5-liter dynamic force engine that makes 179 hp. It has eight drive modes: Normal, EV, HV, Auto EV/HV, ECO, Sport, Trail, and Charge. In hybrid mode, the RAV4 gets 40 miles per gallon in the city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway. It has an MPGe of 94, and an electric driving range of 42 miles.
Like the Prius Prime, the RAV4 Prime features Toyota’s Star Safety System and Safety Sense suite of features. It also has a backup camera that projects your path. A dual zone automatic climate control system comes standard, and features a filter for pollen and dust.
Toyota’s plug-in hybrid vehicles offer a plethora of benefits. If you’ve been thinking about purchasing an EV but don’t want to give up your gas power just yet, the Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime are excellent options that can give you the best of both worlds.