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2021 Toyota Prius Prime Pros vs Cons

Why Buy a 2021 Toyota Prius Prime?
Reviewed & fact checked by
James MurdochNorman Ruckpaul

Are You Considering a 2021 Toyota Prius Prime? Here Are Some Reasons For and Against

Toyota's Prius has long held the top spot for hybrid vehicles, regardless of segment. However, its spin-off, the Prius Prime, is just as electrifying as the regular Prius. With 25 miles of pure electric charge, this plug-in hybrid has been going strong since it was introduced in 2017. With its comfy front seats and affordable price tag, the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime is an attractive option. But do its pitfalls (a noisy and sluggish engine, to be more precise) hold it back from being what you need? Hang tight as we go through what is new for 2021, what we like about the Prius Prime, what we'd like to see changed, and how it stacks up against some of the top contenders (including its elder sibling, the Prius).

What's New for 2021?

Only a few changes have been made for 2021. The most notable addition is the upgraded Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 bundle of driver aids. This gives you everything from a pre-collision mitigation system with a pedestrian detection feature to road sign assist to adaptive cruise control. It is a more inclusive suite than what Toyota has equipped in the past. Also new for 2021 is Android Auto on the base LE trim level.

Ten Reasons You May Like the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime – The Pros

1. A Comfortable Cabin

Take comfort to the next level with 2021 Toyota Prius Prime - a great choice for drivers seeking support, ergonomics and peace of mind. Luxury abounds in the cabin's well-sculpted front seats that adapt uniquely to your body shape and provide an optimal driving posture. Enjoy quiet rides as any unwanted noise from outside is hushed away by climate control technology that helps you reach ideal temperatures within moments.

2. A High Fuel Economy

With the Prius Prime, drivers get to experience an impressive 25 miles of pure electric range and a combined 54 mpg – maximizing efficiency with little stopping for fuel. Finding these levels of thriftiness is made possible thanks to this hybrid vehicle heralding in higher standards when it comes saving on gas.

3. The Affordable Price Tag

The Prius Prime offers a competitive price tag that gives buyers more freedom to upgrade and/or add on options. Compared to its rivals, it is quite accessible for even those with slightly tighter budgets; getting you the most value out of your hybrid purchase.

4. Standard Smartphone App Integration

Now that Android Auto comes standard on the base LE trim level, the Prius Prime is fully outfitted with smartphone app integration. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both compatible with the Prius Prime's infotainment system and are great alternatives to the built-in navigation system. You simply pair your phone up with the vehicle and use whichever app you want.

5. An Accurate Voice Recognition System

Toyota's voice recognition system works with features like cruise control and the audio system. Simply issue a voice command, and it will control a function for you. This particular system does a thorough job of recognizing natural speech patterns and responding to them accordingly. This keeps your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

6. A Quiet Ride Quality

Want a relaxing ride quality? The Prius Prime is all about smooth sailing around town. While the engine gets a tad noisy on the highway, everything is pleasant while scooting about in the city. This ride isn't floaty and has a suspension that can dispatch small bumps with ease. Having it in EV mode will provide a really tranquil ride.

7. Eco Mode on the Climate Control System

Enjoy greater environmental consciousness and individualized comfort in your Prius Prime with the Eco Mode of its Climate Control System. Set the desired temperature, then sit back as this energy-saving feature chills or heats for you alone - making sustainability effortless.

8. Getting In and Out is Easy

Thanks to its ride height and wide door sill openings, getting in and out of the Prius Prime is particularly easy. Rear seat occupants have plenty of space for getting out and, due to how the seats are postured, will not have to scoot themselves forward in order to get out. They can just gracefully slide out. Taller folks will just need to watch their heads since the Prime has a sloping roofline typical for its segment.

9. Plenty of Space

As we have already touched on, the Prius Prime has a spacious cabin. Now that it has a full five seats (yeah, it used to be a four-seater with just two individual seats in the rear; this changed in 2020), the Prius comfortably seats four adults and, if needed in a pinch, a small adult or a child in the rear middle seat. Leg space is abundant, and head space up front is vast.

10. High-quality Materials

Toyota has a habit of using some hard plastics, but they aren't of the cheap-and-tacky variety. The Prius Prime is outfitted with some composites and metals that keep it lightweight but also durable, and everything on the inside looks like it is well fitted together. You should not hear any odd shakes, rattles, or rolls while driving.

Reasons You May Not Like the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime – The Cons

1. The Slow and Noisy Engine

The one big drag that makes the 2021 Toyota Prius Prime annoying to drive is the one thing you really cannot change on it, and that is its engine. The sole powertrain is composed of a 1.8-L 4-cylinder engine that is paired up with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor and lithium-ion battery for a combined power output of 121 hp. Unfortunately, this engine feels vastly underpowered even by PHEV standards. It is slow to accelerate and likes to grunt when you push it to go. On the highway, it can get pretty noisy. Despite getting a great fuel economy, the engine feels bland and does not do much to excite.

2. Limited Cargo Space

The cabin might be spacious, but the cargo area is not. With just 19.8 cubic feet of cargo space to use, you will have to come up with some creative ways to store your bulkier items. The battery pack is a massive one and takes up a good chunk of the Prime's cargo area. Even a grocery bag is going to be too tall to fit beneath the security cover, and this can obstruct your view out of the rear window. A versatile design, it is not.

3. Bland Handling and Steering

Handling and steering are almost as bland as the engine. The brakes feel numb, but the steering is even duller, providing virtually no connection between the driver and the wheels. Steering is incredibly numb while going along on the highway, and the huge battery pack focuses too much weight too high behind the rear wheels. This limits the vehicle's handling and makes the vehicle feel bulky while cornering multiple times in a row.

4. An Outdated Navigation System

Experience real-time navigation with modern convenience. Upgrade your journey and ditch the outdated infotainment system's limiting navigation capabilities by syncing your smartphone to utilize preferred apps for a comprehensive, unrestricted experience while in motion.

How it Stacks Up to the Competition:

2021 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2021 Toyota Prius

The standard Prius is a capable performer, able to get over 50 mpg combined, which just about touches on what the Prime accomplishes. The standard Prius also offers a cabin that is quiet even when the gas-powered engine is running. It won't get noisy on the highway like the Prime's engine. Seeing out of the Prius is easy, so you can move about town without a hassle. On top of that, all-wheel drive is available if you do not want front-wheel drive. On the downside, the Prius gets shaky while going across rougher road surfaces, and you will still have to deal with a sluggish engine.

2021 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2021 Honda Clarity

The 2021 Toyota Prius Prime and Honda Clarity have emerged as top competitors in the hybrid car market. With a chic interior, smooth ride quality, strong fuel numbers and three different powertrains to choose from - standard hybrid, plug-in or all-electric - you can find something that fits your needs with either of these vehicles. However, only the PHEV is available on limited bases while drivers may experience some frustrations navigating through its clunky touchscreen display.

Final Thoughts

The 2021 Toyota Prius Prime may be an excellent choice for comfort and fuel economy, but unfortunately fails to deliver when it comes to the driving experience. Without a powerful engine or that essential feeling of connection between drivers and road, many might find themselves wanting more than this car has to offer - in which case they should consider opting for the regular model instead.