Driving A New Prius Plug-in Hybrid

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You may recall my recent column about the Lexus CT 200h, but this time around – and thanks again to Servco – I had the opportunity to drive the latest Prius Plug-in Hybrid. Since the Prius first launched in 1997, many other Toyota and Lexus hybrids have hit the road, but this is the first time a plug-in is available. The Plug-in brings the best of both worlds together – a hybrid and an electric vehicle melded into one car! It features a new Lithium-ion battery, which gives the vehicle an extended electric-only (EV) driving range of up to 11 miles (at a maximum speed of 62 mph). The estimated average miles per gallon (mpg) is 95 in electric mode and 50 mpg in hybrid.

Obviously, plugging it in makes a huge difference since I averaged about 110 mpg on my morning commutes to work (after a full charge), and 55 mpg on the way back home (with no charge as there was nowhere to plug it in at work). It only takes three hours to obtain a full charge, and you can set a timer on the car to make it charge at 2 a.m. so you can efficiently use your electricity at off-peak hours. Charging the car is simple since it uses a standard 120V outlet (15-amp dedicated circuit), but if you happen to have a 240V outlet, it charges in half the time at 1.5 hours.


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The Prius Plug-In charging at Whole Foods in Kailua. Alison Stewart photo

There are two Plug-in models available, the Prius Plug-in and the Prius Plug-in Advanced. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of tech that is included with the base model including a remote air conditioning system (you can turn it on with the key fob without the car running to keep it cool); Display Audio with Navigation (touchscreen); HD Radio (limited selection in here in Hawaii); integrated backup camera; LED daytime running lights and heated front seats. The Advanced version adds on a Heads-Up Display, leather seats, JBL premium audio system, HDD navigation system and a Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

The beauty of the Prius Plug-in is that it counts as an electric vehicle, so you receive all the benefits such as the $2,500 federal tax credit. There used to be a Hawaii State Tax credit, but the funding recently ran out. As long as you have the “Electric Vehicle” license plate, you park for free at metered parking areas, drive in the HOV lane (regardless of the amount of passengers), and find special parking with charging stations at certain businesses (I’m sure you’ve seen them around).

The base MSRP for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is $32,000 and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced is $39,525.

If you’re interested in these (or any other Toyota), visit any Toyota Hawaii dealership in the State. In addition, download the Prius Experience app for your iOS or Android device.