The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is an automotive enigma. It proudly flaunts its eco-friendly credentials, yet its factory-rated 25 miles of electric range simply pales in comparison to the 53 miles advertised by the Chevrolet Volt.
I hopped into a Titanium Glow (think beige) 2017 Prius Prime for a three-day visit to Dallas for the State Fair of Texas. Although Toyota is now a major employer in North Texas—its American-market headquarters recently opened in suburban Plano—I was in town to see some new pickup trucks debut at the State Fair.
Between Big Tex, fried everything, and shiny pickup after shiny pickup, Dallas' historic Fair Park is the antithesis of Prius country for a few weeks each fall.
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When I picked up the Prius, it had a full tank of gas but no charge left on its battery. I was only able to fully charge it once, but I put about 120 miles on in three days of varied driving.
2017 Toyota Prius Prime, Dallas, Texas
Perhaps most importantly, all of my driving was done with little regard for maximizing fuel economy. I drove the Prius Prime like I would any other car, merely keeping up with traffic.
I zipped along the President George Bush Turnpike at a clip just north of the 70 mph speed limit. I moseyed along surface streets in dense East Dallas, avoiding cyclists and dump trucks. And I tapped my thumbs for what seemed like an eternity spent on Central Expressway during rush hour.
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It was warm and rainy for all three of my Dallas days, so the air conditioner and wipers were near-constant companions. I tried neither the heated seats, with their awkwardly placed switches, nor the fancy heater pump.
It may only have been a 120-mile jaunt, but it was representative of every kind of daily driving one is likely to encounter.
It took just shy of 6 hours to charge the Prius Prime's 8.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery back on a regular household outlet. That's just fine if you're charging overnight in your garage or all day at work.
That gave me an indicated 26 miles on a full charge, which was shockingly accurate. I drove 13 miles at about 70 mph and the computer showed 11 to go.
Gentle suburban driving saw the battery give out at 25.3 miles and the gas engine near silently click on.