The 2017 Prius Prime is EPA estimated with the passenger car industry’s highest equivalent fuel economy rating of 133 MPGe, it’s beaten a preliminary 22 mile EV range estimate with 25 miles, and has class-leading 54 mpg in hybrid mode as well.
The feds haven’t yet released the 2017 model year rating, so estimates are coming from a Toyota press release filed yesterday. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the Hyundai Ioniq battery electric car has the highest miles per gallon equivalent rating at 125 MPGe combined. The Toyota release implies that the 133 MPGe will be a combined rating.
This means the Prime will have 26-percent better MPGe over its predecessor, the 2012-2015 Prius Plug-in Hybrid. This comes from a doubly large 8.8-kWh battery capacity and an improved hybrid system, according to the Toyota release. In EV mode, the car now lets drivers go up to up to 84 mph without the gas engine coming on.
Toyota also says the Prius Prime in hybrid mode will beat all competitors with 54 mpg combined, comprised of 55 city and 53 highway by EPA estimates. This spans the gap between the Prius Liftback hybrid’s 52 mpg, and the Prius Two Eco’s 56 mpg rating.
Another assertion Toyota makes is that the Prius Prime will have the longest range available when tapping into the gasoline engine and battery power. It will go an EPA-estimated 640 miles, Toyota said.
Engineering design give the Prius Prime a bit of an edge as well, according to Toyota. That comes from all the Prius models being built on the New Global Architecture (TNGA) with double-wishbone independent rear suspension. Toyota said it will compare with the best sport sedans, and its exclusive suspension tuning gives the Prime “an enhanced planted stance through curves.”
In our test drive on a cone course comparing the new Prius Liftback with a 2015 model, the suspension is indeed more composed, the car does corner flatter, but the sports sedan analogy may be a stretch, given its low rolling resistance tires. These are capable, not as sticky as summer rubber, but overall the Prius handles better.
Another functional improvement Toyota is promoting comes through better luggage space from a trailing-arm design allowing an outstanding EPA-estimated 19.8 cu. ft. with the rear seatbacks in use.