Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid (2015 Model Review)

Written By: EightySix

2015 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid is One More Step in the Right Direction

2015 Toyota prius Plug-in Hybrid

You won't see much difference between the 2015 Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the previous versions. It retains the classic wedge exterior. Love it or hate it, the shape is efficient and aerodynamic. The driving experience is still no thrill. The steering is vague and it accelerates like your mommy would want you to. The power port opposite the fuel cap gives it away. Start it up and you'll notice the ultra-silence of the all-electric drive.

But it won't last long. The electric range is about eleven miles, depending on how you drive. Press the accelerator firmly on a full charge and, with a flutter and a rumble, the gas motor will step in to assist. You'll be greedily smoking along at 50 MPG again.

It becomes a game of soft-shoe. Can you press the pedal enough to avoid frustrating the drivers behind you but not so much as to create emissions? Experienced Prius Plug-In drivers find their electric range increasing as they master the style.

Is It Worth It?

Compared to a base model Prius ($24,200) you'll pay almost $6000 more for the plug-in version. You will qualify for a $2500 federal tax credit and more depending on your state. Do your research before you shop! You may end up spending about the same for the one with the plug.

As for fuel savings? That depends on how often you'll stay within that eleven mile electric range. If you have the fortune to enjoy a short commute and easy access to charging facilities, you may burn very little gas. This could be a great purchase.

2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Getting Charged Up

Toyota partners with Leviton to make it easy for plug-in owners to install either a 120 volt or 240 volt charging station at home. You may also qualify for a state tax credit. The 30% federal tax credit expired at the end of 2014, yet will likely be renewed. Your employer will also receive a credit for installing a charging station. Impress on them how increasing the green in their image can be good for business and employee morale.

120 volts will charge the PIP in 3 hours. 240 volts cuts that to one and a half. If more cities can follow the example of Ford Headquarters’ solar carport, catching a charge wherever you go in town can be much easier.

The Advanced Version

The standard PIP already comes equipped with a 6.1 inch touch-screen that connects the driver to a large range of navigation and entertainment applications. The interior is not luxurious, for a $30,000 car. If you wanted to feel more like a pampered executive, you could spend that money on some leather and 20 MPG.

Or for another $5000 you could spring for the Advanced trim. You'll get more sumptuous SofTex-trimmed seats and steering wheel. Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and the Pre-Collision System are included. The Head-Up Display shows speed, navigation and efficiency information like a jet fighter.

Green from the Start

Toyota understands environmental responsibility goes beyond MPGe statistics. The factories that build the Prius are built in many ways to be clean and green. The Tsutsumi plant in Japan is a model of ecological friendliness.

50% of the power used at Tsutsumi is solar-generated. Sun-light ducts distribute natural light throughout the facility to reduce the need for artificial lighting. 22,000 square meters of the factory are cover with photocatalytic paint which uses sunlight to break down hazardous compounds like nitrous oxides.

From 2003 to 2007, CO2 emissions were reduced by 36%, total waste was reduced by 21% and use of volatile organic compounds was reduced by 48%. Nothing is sent from Tsutsumi to landfills.

Patience, if You Can

The first plug-in model of the Prius is only the beginning. Good things may come to those who wait. In 2016, the nickel-metal-hydride battery may be replaced by a lithium-ion one with greater electric range. Next year's model will be built on Toyota's new and lighter modular architecture. All-wheel drive may be an option. Also stay tuned for the hydrogen fuel-cell powered Mirai.

So if you're not driving a complete guzzler, you may want to be patient for a PIP with a greater range. Eleven miles only may be the least exciting thing about this car.

Will it Change the World?

To me, the central question for every green vehicle is: can it become mainstream? Will it satisfy the needs and desires of enough consumers to change the way we pollute our planet?

My answer for the 2015 Prius Plug-In Hybrid: not quite, but it's another step in the right direction. The Prius overall has changed the automotive scene and forced competitors to react.

It is efficient. It is a hatchback that seats five. Yet it lacks the driving excitement to capture a driver's heart. It's also too small to replace mini-vans or large SUVs. It is not the answer for an average sized family.

If Toyota would utilize this technology on a Sienna, wouldn’t we be onto something?

But bit by bit, we're getting there.