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Preview: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

 
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prototype 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, April 2010

While the Toyota Prius is the world's most popular hybrid vehicle--with well over 1.5 million sold globally since 1997--it's become almost an accepted part of the automotive landscape.

And with plug-in vehicles seen as the next big thing, will the Prius fade away? Not if Toyota has anything to say about it.

We've now driven a prototype of the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which the company intends to offer for sale in roughly two years. You can read the full drive report over at our sister site, Green Car Reports.

The basic idea behind the Plug-In Prius is to expand the all-electric range of an otherwise (more or less) conventional Prius hybrid by enlarging the battery pack and letting owners recharge it by plugging it into the electric grid.

The 2012 Prius Plug-In prototype we drove had a battery pack roughly three times the size of the standard 2010 Prius pack, which is 1.6 kilowatt-hours. More importantly, it uses lithium-ion cells rather than the nickel-metal-hydride used in every Prius to date.

Otherwise, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid uses the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system as a standard 2010 Toyota Prius.

And it drives just like the standard 2010 Prius as well, although it feels slightly heavier, and we thought the acceleration was somewhat less sprightly from a standing stop.

Our overall impression, in fact, was that the Prius Plug-In is most remarkable because it's almost indistinguishable from a standard 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid. Take off the labels and graphics, and only the charging port in the left front fender gives it away.

So we'd be curious to get your thoughts: Should Toyota sell the Prius Plug-In (which they haven't yet priced) as "just another Prius," or would you like it to be more distinctive?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

[Green Car Reports]



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Comments (4)
  1. they are very good and useful!!!
     
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  2. The front lower light clusters could be removed in favour of a continuous bumper. The existing light clusters appear to be an unnecessary cost / drag.
     
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  3. I'm not really getting why a person would by the Plug-in version of the Prius than a regular one. I get that it's supposed to extend the all-electric range of the vehicle but since the vehicle can only go 13 miles on a single charge it's only going to help those people who's commute is 13 miles of less. Plus the added hassle of having to plug in the vehicle and wait for it to charge. I'd personally wait for the plug-in version that can go longer on a single charge. Maybe when the lease is up on my 2010 Prius ;p
     
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  4. My commute is about 12 miles, so on most weekdays I'd use zero gas. If errands boost my daily total to 26 miles, the first half of the trip will use zero gas, while the second half will be 50-55 mpg as a "regular" hybrid. I'll take it! Especially if Toyota finally opens that Mississippi plant and assembles the PHEV Prius there :)
     
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