The Prius name may be more than 15 years old, but Toyota’s a more recent iteration of the hybrid is this – the Prius Plug-in. And as the name implies, this Prius has a trick up its sleeve for how it goes about charging.

As with any conventional Prius, the Plug-in can be charged on the go. Tap the brakes or coast down a hill, and the electric motor harnesses the wheels’ rotational energy, feeding it back into the battery. However, this model goes one step further, offering customers the ability to charge the car while it sits in their garage.

Plug the included power cord and transformer box into any 110-volt wall outlet, and the Prius Plug-in will trickle charge it’s batteries for three hours, giving the car an advertised 11-mile, all-electric range. Pop the charging cord into a 240-volt, and the deed is done in one and a half hours.

So how well does the added plug-in feature work? To find out, I spent a week with the Prius, testing out its electrified abilities first hand.

Continue reading for the full review of the 2014 Prius Plug-in Hybrid

  • 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in - Driven
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    Gasoline/Electric Hybrid
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    1.8 L
  • 0-60 time:
    10.5 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    105 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    front engine, FWD
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When Toyota improved the Prius Plug-in’s battery system and gave it the ability to receive a wall charger, the designers didn’t bat an eye. Spotting the difference between the two takes an eagle eye. Most obvious are the badges on either side, just behind the front wheels. The other clear identifier is the extra fuel door on the passenger side. Only, this is no fuel door. Pop the lid open, and the EV charging port is easily accessible.

The remainder of the car carries the standard Prius look. My tester came packing upgraded 15-inch alloy wheels, along with chrome accents on the front bumper, door handles and rear liftgate. The extra flash dresses up the car, giving it a touch more class.


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What’s true for the outside continues within. The interior carries the same look as the standard Prius, which for most people, looks futuristic and different. The swooping center console holds two cup holders, the Prius’ unique gear selector, and the standard HVAC and radio controls. Up top, the center-mounted gauge cluster shows a variety of information, including current and average mpg figures, a power flow chart, multiple fuel economy graphs, and charging information when the car is plugged into the wall.

Behind the front seats, rear passengers enjoy a good amount of legroom and plenty of headroom thanks to the Prius’ rounded shape. The rear cargo area is large enough to be mistaken for the cargo hold of a crossover. The same is true when the rear seats are folded flat. Ikea boxes don’t stand a chance. The Prius really shows why wagons are so awesome without compromising itself like crossovers do.

The car also provides plenty of storage compartments all around. Up front are two glove boxes – one above and the conventional box below. Under the floating center console lies a small shelf, perfect for a box of tissues or an iPad mini. There are small compartments under the rear cargo area for storing items like a first aid kit, the charging cable, and other odds and ends.

On a quality level, the Prius Plug-in mimics the standard Prius. The dash materials feel as if they’ve been molded from recycled material, the surrounding plastics sound lightweight when tapped, and the steering wheel has a heavy texture, making palm-drivers find different ways to grab the wheel.


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The big news happens under the Prius’ skin. Starting up front, the main propulsion comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder running an Atkinson cycle. The engine is transversely mounted to a CVT with an electric motor included in the mix. Under the car lies the battery bank. In the Plug-in version’s case, the battery is a 4.4 kWh Lithium-Ion unit. When powering together, the pair make 134 horsepower. All Prii are FWD.

Used conventionally, the Prius Plug-in behaves as any Prius would. It runs on batteries when it can, supplements itself with the gasoline engine when it can’t, and recharges itself when decelerating. Things are only slightly different with the Plug-in version. Those systems stay in place, but Toyota offers the ability to charge the car while it sits still – all via the provided power cord and transformer box.

Not having a 240-volt plug handy, I ran the cord from a standard 110-volt plug. The provided cord was plenty long enough to reach the car from an interior power outlet located by my back door. Though I left it charging all night, the process only took three hours. When I started the car the next morning, the computer showed I had 14 miles of all-electric range. That’s impressive considering Toyota says the car will do 11 miles per charge.

Driving in all-electric mode was hassle-free. The car had plenty of power for putting around town and would only resort to the gas engine when I matted the pedal. Afterwards, the engine would promptly shut off. It was impressive how easily the car moved under electric-only power. Of course, the Prius Plug-in is no Tesla Model S with the P85D package, but it wasn’t noticeably slow either.

Driving Impressions

Speaking of the P85d, the Prius won’t be mistaken for a Model S from behind the wheel. It’s steering is moderately heavy but with little feedback. It is however, easy to point the car where you want it to be. There is little on-center numbness. The steering also redeems itself in slow-moving parking lot maneuvers. The Prius’ turning radius is impressive.

Moving down the road, the small, low-rolling-resistance tires offer little lateral grip at the limit, and understeer is laughably present. However, that’s not what the Prius is designed to do. It’s a commuter car with spectacular fuel economy. Buy a sports car if you want performance. But the car does exhibit some noticeable road noise, especially on broken pavement.

Outward visibility is downright spectacular thanks to the Prius’ generous windows and tall greenhouse. The standard backup camera and the large rear window offer a clear view behind the car. Sliding the car into reverse does initiate the annoying backup alarm – much like you’d find on a large truck – only this one goes off inside the cabin.

Despite its flaws, the Prius does provide a pleasing driving experience with plenty of fun to be had just edging up the fuel mileage.


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The standard Prius starts at $24,200 while the Prius Plug-in costs $5,790 more, with prices starting at $29,990. Now $5,700 is a lot of scratch, so choosing the plug-in version does warrant some thinking. Customers should consider their daily drives and whether the trips fit within the 11- to 14-mile electric range. How much does electricity cost from the local power plant? And how long will it take to recoupe the buy-in cost, among other questions.


Ford C-Max Energi

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The C-Max Energi takes after the Prius in several ways, not the least of which is its gasoline/electric hybrid power system and its battery’s ability to be charged from the wall. The C-Max Energi comes in a single, fully loaded trim package that includes plenty of luxuries. You’ll pay extra for navigation, a rearview camera, and Ford’s nifty foot-activated tailgate.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder. When in full electric mode, Ford says the C-Max has a range of 21 miles with speeds topping out at 80 mph. Prices start at $31,770, or $7,600 more than the standard C-Max Hybrid. It’s rather easy to see who Ford is targeting.
Read our full review here

Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt High Resolution Exterior
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The Volt is GM’s answer to the Prius, and though its sales indicate otherwise, the Volt offers up fairly stiff competition. The Volt’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder acts as a range-extending generator that provides electricity generation for the EV motor when the battery runs dry of juice. So unlike the Prius, the Volt’s gas engine is not connected to the wheels.

The Volt does have a respectable range of 36 miles of electric-only driving. That added range does cost the customer in the end, with prices starting at $34,185. However, just like the other two vehicles listed, the Volt does come with a few government rates that make purchasing a bit sweeter.

Read our full review here


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The Prius Plug-in hybrid offers a new take on the old favorite from Toyota, with an as-tested 14-mile all-electric range on top of the Prius’ already impressive gas mileage. Rated at 95 mpge and 50 mpg combined from the EPA, the Prius Plug-in takes the car’s legacy to the next level.

The plug-in version doesn’t sacrifice any of the comforts or conveniences of the standard Prius. It’s added range and familiar interface offers a similar experience to any other Prius, but with the added bonus of wall charging. All told, the Prius Plug-in makes a great extension of the Prius family.

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    • * More expensive than the standard Prius
    • * Somewhat limited EV range
    • * Design starting to show its age
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