By Frank S. Washington
The word that the best describes the 2022 Toyota Prius Prime Limited is value.
First, the badge is almost a misnomer. This was a plug-in hybrid.
Prius Prime’s fuel efficiency numbers are impressive. In hybrid mode, the Prius Prime gets an estimated the 55 mpg in the city, 53 mpg on the highway and 54 combined MPG.
It did even better when fully charged – 133 MPGe. What’s more, it gets a total range of 640 miles. And it takes a little more than two hours to give it a full charge with eight a level 2 charger.
Prius Prime has an estimated 133 MPGe when fully charged. And, with an estimated 640-mile total driving range, the Prius Prime is more efficient that just about anything with a gasoline engine.
The Prius Prime uses TNGA-K platform architecture. The structural strength and sophisticated double-wishbone style multi-link rear suspension imbue the Prius Prime with a premium level of handling responsiveness, steering feel and ride quality.
The rear suspension design allows an estimated 19.8 cu. ft. of luggage space with the rear seatbacks in use. This Prius rode smooth, it was quiet, and it was spacious for a compact car.
It had the safety package which included dynamic cruise control, lane tracing, blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams, and there was a premium sound system and satellite radio.
Additional weight savings come from a lightweight carbon-fiber rear liftgate, which also makes opening and closing liftgate almost easy.
The Prius Prime was the first Toyota hybrid to use a dual motor drive, which helps improve acceleration in EV Mode for spirited driving. The system engages both the generator (MG1) and electric drive motor (MG2) for drive torque via an innovative one-way clutch. This is the first deployment of MG1 for that purpose. In other Prius models, MG1 provides only battery charging while MG2 provides drive torque and charging.
Regenerative braking recaptures electrical energy under deceleration and braking and stores it in the battery, which helps to reduce fuel consumption.
The Prius Prime can even help optimize range by memorizing the driver’s stopping patterns on frequently driven routes and suggesting when to let off the accelerator. Here’s how: The available Predictive Efficient Drive with Predictive Deceleration Support collects daily driving data to predict points of deceleration and stopping. From then on, when the driver passes through a location in the database, the system indicates when to let off the accelerator and can also apply assisted deceleration to help boost fuel efficiency.
The Prius Prime’s efficiency credentials are not battery-focused; the gasoline engine is also a star in its own right. The 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, 4-cylinder engine, used in all current Prius liftback models, achieves a groundbreaking 40%-plus thermal efficiency compared to about 25-30% for most modern automobile engines.
Myriad details throughout the hybrid powertrain contribute to its efficiency, starting with a very high compression ratio of 13.0:1. Yet, like all Prius models, the Prius Prime runs on regular-grade gasoline. Other efficiency team players here include an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system with a cooler, a smaller, lighter, quieter hybrid system water pump and an exhaust heat recirculation system that helps speed engine warm-up.
The Prius Prime’s combined net output is 121 horsepower, and the effect of the electric motors and the planetary-type continuously variable transmission give the Prius Prime a spunky, responsive attitude. On the highway, in EV mode, the Prius Prime cruises in silence. It remains a quiet cruiser in all drive modes thanks to the sound-insulating laminated windshield and front door glass, comprehensive sound insulation measures and the optimized aero shape that all help to subdue wind noise.
The best part of all may be the price. Our Prius Prime Limited had a sticker of $35,284 as tested.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com