2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in Review

Prius Plug-in

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2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in Overview

Introduced for the 2012 model year, Toyota’s Prius Plug-In improved on its traditional hybrid sibling by adding a plug-in rechargeable battery pack for up to 11 miles of all-electric cruising range. The 2015 edition of this midsize gas/electric 5-passenger hatchback sees no changes as it returns offering a pair of trims: the Base and the up-featured Advanced. The Plug-In offers decent rear-seat passenger room and 21.6 cubic feet of toting capacity to the rear seatbacks. Total cargo area numbers with the seatbacks folded down aren’t available, but they should be close to the 39.6 cubic feet offered by its non-plug-in Prius kinfolk.

The unique drivetrain in the 2015 Prius Plug-In again includes a 1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) gasoline burner mated with a pair of plug-in rechargeable electric motors and a beefed-up continuously variable transmission (CVT). All of this results in a combined 134 hp and 153 lb-ft of torque, with this little hatchback’s battery pack sporting 4.4 kWh of capacity and the ability to be recharged when plugged into a 120-volt system. A complete recharge using a 120-volt system takes about 3 hours, however, utilizing the available 240-volt system cuts charging time roughly in half. As mentioned, Toyota claims some 11 miles of uninterrupted electric cruising, but some reviewers dispute this, arguing that the I4 has to run at least once despite power remaining available in the lithium-ion battery pack. Therefore, a number of media folks state a real-world range of only about 6 miles of all-electric journeying. Don’t look for neck-snapping acceleration either as track tests showed the Prius Plug-In plodding from 0-60 in an average of 10.5 seconds.

This midsize liftback’s claim to fame, however, is class-leading fuel-efficiency. The EPA estimates, through a series of convoluted formulae, that the 2015 Prius is capable of 95 mpg with the combination of judicious trip planning and extensive use of the electric motors, while even in strict hybrid mode, mileage is estimated at an average of 50 mpg.

Not only is it fuel miserly, but the 2015 Prius Plug-In also packs a plethora of perks. Both trims boast 15-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler outside, with cloth or — in the Advanced trim — leatherette upholstery, as well as heated front seats, full power accessories and a hybrid-specific trip computer adorning the inside.

Both trims also sport cruise control, telescoping tilt-wheel steering and a rear-view camera as standard equipment, not to mention auto climate control, Bluetooth hands-free calling, Entune infotainment with smartphone connectivity and a hard-drive-based navigation system.

The Prius Plug-In Advanced, meanwhile, tosses in a standard auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a heads-up windshield display, enhanced Entune and navigation, and a 7.1-inch touchscreen.

The Base carries a single-CD player with 6 speakers, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio input, while the Advanced features a standard 8-speaker JBL premium stereo system. The 2015 Prius Plug-In Base trim remains eligible for a few of the goodies that come standard in the Advanced as optional equipment.

Safety-wise, look for this plug-in Toyota to return with standard antilock brakes (ABS), front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags, and daytime running lights. The Advanced, furthermore, adds a standard post-collision safety system and Toyota’s Entune-integrated Safety Connect emergency telematics, while remaining in line for the available Technology Package boasting adaptive cruise control, front fog/driving lights, LED headlights and forward collision warning. Both trims, finally, can be equipped with the popular VIP Security technology for semi-worry-free overnight parking in less-than-safe environments.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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