2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Review – Video

Making a case for the forgotten plug-in

2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Review – Video

Arriving late to the plug-in party and overshadowed by more statistically impressive cars like the Chevrolet Volt, the plug-in Prius hasn’t garnered much attention. That’s likely that reason it hasn’t sold particularly well.

FAST FACTS

1. The Prius PHEV is rated at 87 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) in EV mode and 49 mpg in regular hybrid mode.

2. Charge time takes 1.5 hours with a quick charger or 3 hours with a conventional household outlet.

3. The plug-in Prius boasts a 15 mile emissions-free range.

4. Pricing starts at $32,000.

On paper it fails to excite, preferring instead to deliver results in the real world and for that reason it is likely the best green option on the market.

FAMILIAR LOOK, BUT IS IT TOO FAMILIAR?

Perhaps a unique style would have helped set the car apart from its “conventional” hybrid sibling. Instead Toyota used an identical body shape with just a few small tweaks. Those include custom wheels as well as faux-metal door handles and matching trim on the front bumper and rear hatch. Besides that there are blue accented headlights and LED taillights while the obvious give-aways include “plug-in hybrid” badging on the front fenders and an extra “gas” door hiding the electric charge port.

SAME OLD INTERIOR

2013 Toyota Prius Plug in interior

A more individual interior might have helped the Prius PHEV in the sales department too. Instead, it’s the same-old cabin. Once a talking-point by nature of its originality, after four years on the market in the regular Prius it’s just a lot of eco-styled plastic. Having the gauges located in the center of the dash isn’t just annoying and out of the driver’s line of sight, it’s means the view out front is replaced with, yup, more plastic.

RESEARCH: See the full specs on the Toyota Prius PHEV

Those display screens are looking as modern as a Palm Pilot at CES, though at least their simplicity makes them easy to read and understand, helping you get the most out of your hybrid.

PAYING A PREMIUM FOR PHEV

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Comparing the car directly to the standard Prius is next to impossible as it comes with a mish-mash of equipment from the Prius Two trim, as well as a few items from the Prius Three and Four trim levels. The list includes a smart key with keyless access and push button start, a touch-screen display audio with nav and a rear backup camera as well as Toyota’s EnTune system. The touch tracer redundant steering wheel controls that light up look dated

2013 Toyota Prius Plug in heated seatsThe PHEV also comes standard with heated seats (it’s more efficient to heat your behind than the entire car), though unfortunately the buttons are located underneath the center console and almost on the floor making them nearly impossible to reach.

All said, Toyota prices the car at $32,000 which at a $7,800 premium over the regular Prius sounds excessive. There is, however, a $2,500 tax rebate (based on the size of the car’s battery it’s not as impressive as the $7,500 rebate the Volt qualifies for), brining that price premium to a more realistic $5,300.

WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE?

2013 Toyota Prius Plug in side rear

With a price that’s certainly divergent from the regular Prius liftback, the changes become more obvious when you examine the technical details and get out on the road.

To say it’s different under the hood, however, would be a misstatement. Pop the painted aluminum and you’ll find the same 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and electric motor with an identical total system output of 134 hp. Things only become unique when you examine the battery. For starters, it’s the first use of a lithium-ion unit in a Toyota production car. The regular Prius continues to use a nickel metal hydride pack and while considered outdated, that car still whoops its gasoline-electric rivals with it.

COMPARE: See how the Prius PHEV fares against other plug-ins

What the new battery does is allow for a 15 mile electric range. Nowhere near as impressive as the Volt’s 38 mile claim, the Prius Plug-in also gets an EPA rated 87 MPGe (or mile per gallon equivalent) combined, again falling short of the Volt’s 93 MPGe number. Run out of juice and it’s a different story with the Prius returning 49 mpg in conventional hybrid mode compared to the Volt’s lackluster 37 mpg – which was more like 33 mpg in our testing. In other words, when you’re not plugging it in, it’s much more efficient.

2013 Toyota Prius Plug in logoThe key is the ability to switch from pure EV mode to hybrid mode at the push of a button. The efficiency of electric cars is the opposite of conventional gas powered machines in that they get better mileage in the city rather than out on the highway. By allowing the driver to choose his or her motivational force the more efficient method can be customized to the type of drive. Turn on EV mode through suburbia to the highway on-ramp. Revert to hybrid mode on the highway, and then back to electric power for the congested city streets.

Of course, get too heavy on the throttle and the gas engine will kick on even in EV mode. Fully electric power can also only be used up until just above 60 mph.

REAL WORLD FUEL ECONOMY

2013 Toyota Prius Plug in front

On my own 40 mile one-way commute I managed 63.5 mpg. For those with something as reasonable as 20 miles or less, the claimed 87 MPGe rating is realistic. On short jaunts I even managed almost 100 mpg.

Make trips that are too brief, however, and the opposite can happen, particularly if it’s cold out. In lower temps the Prius Plug-in will override the EV-only mode to run the engine and warm up the system. Unfortunately this takes a few minutes and on a brief 3.2 mile round trip I managed just 35 mpg with the engine revving higher in a warm-up mode.

2013 Toyota Prius Plug in headlightCharge time for the Prius PHEV is another of the car’s advantages. It takes just 1.5 hours to fill the battery using a quick charger, or 3 hours with a conventional wall socket. Finding 3 hours to plug-in, be it at home or the office, isn’t going to be an issue and not having to pay to install a quick charger is another way the Prius PHEV helps save you money.

Further savings can be achieved by setting the car to charge at off-peak hours. A fancy app does it in the higher-trim $39,250 ‘Advanced’ model, which also includes items like faux leather, a heads-up display system an upgraded audio system, a power driver’s seat, LED headlights and radar cruise control with a pre-collision system. Regardless of the add-ons, it’s hardly a value proposition.

IS IT WORTH IT?

2013 Toyota Prius Plug in rear

The same can in many ways be said of even the base car, or the Prius in general. Hybrid cars can take years and years to see a return on investment (if ever), saving pennies at the pump in exchange for many thousands more up-front. That said, it’s hard to make a case for the Prius plug-in based strictly on economics, though it certainly makes a better argument than most with a relatively low point of entry.

Often, however, buyers in this segment aren’t looking for the best price, but rather the greenest car and here’s where the Prius loses out – or at least appears to. It doesn’t boast the advances of the Volt, while it also doesn’t boast numbers dramatically higher than the conventional Prius. In fact, the impressiveness of that car could be the biggest single factor holding the PHEV back.

THE VERDICT

2013 Toyota Prius Plug in PHEV

Drive with it day-to-day, however, and the advantages of the plug-in model are obvious. Achieving 87 MPGe for right around $30,000 it combines minimal up-front cost and a solid real-world return on investment mixed with a reduced carbon footprint and without the limitations of a pure electric car. While the Prius PHEV, like the conventional Prius, might lack sex appeal, it’s arguably the very best choice for the majority of green car shoppers.

  • Sarah F

    It should look more unique than the regular Prius I think… that would help sales.

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked