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Toyota Prius Plug-In Performance

Reviewers think the 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in has dismal handling and poor acceleration, but note that because it has a comfortable ride and top-notch fuel economy, it’s acceptable for everyday commuting.

  • "The 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in drives much like the regular Prius. This means smooth performance whether it's in pure electric or standard hybrid mode, as well as a supple ride around town and while cruising on the freeways." -- Edmunds
  • "Predictably, the downside of the powertrain's focus on mileage is leisurely acceleration; taken together with numb steering and ample body roll, that means that the car isn't likely to appeal to traditional enthusiasts." -- Left Lane News
  • "… the parallel-hybrid powertrain design, the squishy suspension setup, and the puny 15-inch wheels remain, giving the PHV the same lackluster driving characteristics as its non-plug-in sibling." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that produce 134 horsepower combined. They are mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic. The 2015 Prius Plug-in gets an EPA-estimated 95 mpg-equivalent in combined city and highway driving using both electric and gas power, which is decent for a plug-in hybrid. When using only gas, the Prius Plug-in gets 51/49 mpg city/highway, which is very high compared with the fuel economy of plug-in hybrid rivals. Toyota says the 2015 Prius Plug-in can go up to 62 mph on electric power alone, and the EPA reports that it has a six-mile range using only electric power. Most competing plug-in hybrids have higher electric-only top speeds and farther electric-only driving ranges.

Test drivers don’t think the Prius Plug-in is particularly fast, but they say it should have enough power for most drivers. They disagree about whether the transition between gas and electric power is smooth enough, and some note that it’s difficult to climb a hill or merge onto a freeway without the gas engine starting up noisily.

  • "Acceleration is typical for a hybrid: far from quick, but acceptable for most drivers and situations." -- Edmunds
  • "Due to the seamless transition between electric motor and gasoline engine, driving the 2013 Toyota Prius hybrid is a surprisingly drama-free event." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "The gas/electric transition is not the smoothest we've experienced, but it's not a deal breaker." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The PHV's threshold is slightly higher than the regular car's, but anything more than genteel pressure on the go pedal-say, as might be required to enter the freeway or accelerate up a slight hill-and the 98-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder stirs with a decidedly unsexy moan." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Alternative Fuels/Charging 

Unlike the regular Prius, the 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in has a lithium ion battery pack that can be charged by plugging the car into a standard 120-volt electric outlet. Toyota provides owners with a charging cable that connects the car to a household outlet, and a fully depleted battery takes about three hours to charge. You can also purchase a 240-volt home charging unit that can charge the Prius Plug-in in about one and a half hours.

Handling and Braking

Reviewers think the 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-in has very dull handling, though they write that its smooth ride makes it a decent choice for commuting. They note that you may need time to get used to the car’s regenerative brakes because they feel different from non-hybrid brakes.

  • "As with all Prius models, the handling is numb and indifferent. Don't get us wrong, the Prius Plug-in drives just fine for normal commuting duties and the like." -- AutoTrader
  • "Although the car feels competent enough in normal driving, its low-rolling-resistance all-season tires (which help optimize fuel economy) and conservatively calibrated stability control system quickly pull the reins on any attempt to take turns at a spirited pace. In fairness, this will be a non-issue for most shoppers, who will appreciate the plug-in Prius' easy driving nature, all-around comfort and amazing fuel economy." -- Edmunds
  • "Fluffy suspension tuning and skinny tires result in lots of body lean in even moderate-speed turns. The car's regenerative brakes, which are designed to help charge the battery a bit, take some getting used to in terms of pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
Review Last Updated: 1/30/15

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