The Prius lineup gained a plug-in hybrid version in 2012 with the introduction of the Prius Plug-In. Based on the regular Prius, the Prius Plug-In provides a wider range of electric-only operation with the ability to travel up to 15 miles on electric power alone. When the lithium-ion battery pack is depleted and during certain driving conditions, the Prius Plug-In operates as a traditional hybrid car. Fuel-conscious competitors include the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Fusion Energi.
New for 2013
There are no changes for 2013.
Like the regular Prius, the Prius Plug-In slips cleanly through the air with a drag coefficient of .25, which helps gas mileage. Subtle styling cues distinguish the plug-in version including chrome accents on the door handles, grille, liftgate and charge-port door. Additional exterior features include:
- Blue-tinted headlight covers; LED headlights available
- LED taillights
- 15-inch alloy wheels
- Rear spoiler
- Available fog lights
One of the Prius' distinguishing cabin features — a center-mounted instrument panel — carries over to the Prius Plug-In. So does the console gear selector, which looks a little like a joystick for a gaming system. The car has seating for five people in two rows. Additional interior features include:
- Fabric-trimmed seats with first-row seat heaters
- Tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio, climate and Bluetooth controls
- Digital instrumentation
- Automatic climate control
- Cruise control
- 60/40-split folding backseat
- CD stereo with MP3 jack, USB connectivity and Bluetooth streaming audio
- Entune with applications for iHeartRadio and OpenTable, Pandora integration, weather information, gas prices and Bing search
- Navigation system with backup camera
- Available adaptive cruise control
Under the Hood
The Prius Plug-In uses the Hybrid Synergy Drive system of the regular Prius, which is paired with a 4.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack in place of the Prius' nickel-metal-hydride battery. The battery is located under the cargo floor along with the onboard charger.
With a full battery, Toyota says the Prius Plug-In can travel up to 15 miles at speeds as high as 62 mph on electric-only operation. Under full acceleration, the car will revert to hybrid mode and turn on the gas engine.
The Prius Plug-In's lithium-ion battery pack isn't as large as the one in the fully electric Nissan Leaf, and it can be charged in a much shorter timeframe. Toyota says it takes about three hours to charge the battery using 120-volt service or 1.5 hours using a 240-volt connection. Toyota has partnered with Leviton for 240-volt home charging-station equipment and installation. Additional mechanical features include:
- 98-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine and 60-kWh electric motor
- 134 hp total system output
- Runs on regular gas
- 120-volt charging cable
Safety features include:
- Antilock brakes
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Driver's knee airbag
- Side curtain airbags
- Electronic stability system
- Active front head restraints
- Available Safety Connect emergency communication system
- Available precollision system that can tighten the seat belts and apply the brakes when a crash is imminent
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