Toyota Prius PHEV -

Used Car Review

Toyota Prius PHEV, front
Toyota Prius PHEV, side
Toyota Prius PHEV, rear
Toyota Prius PHEV, engine
Toyota Prius PHEV, charging
Toyota Prius PHEV, boot
Toyota Prius PHEV, cable storage
Toyota Prius PHEV, badge
Toyota Prius PHEV, interior
Toyota Prius PHEV, rear seats
Toyota Prius PHEV, display screen
Toyota Prius PHEV, rear seats

IT seems we must all look to driving electric cars within a few years even though for many of us they are going to have to drop a great deal in price first.

However, there is an alternative in the short term - the petrol electric hybrid.

The best of these are the plug-in variety as far as I'm concerned, because they offer about 30 - 50 miles on battery alone and will then cover the rest of any journey on petrol and electric power, since the petrol engine charges the battery as you drive.

Or, you can charge the battery again at a roadside charger.

One of the first hybrids on the market was the Toyota Prius, which then became a plug-in and was also available with seven seats, making a reasonable hand at being a people carrier.

I'll concentrate here on the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in its most recent form, which will cover the vast majority of commutes on battery power alone.

It will cover up to 34 miles as a pure electric car, and even on a standard three pin plug, takes only four hours to charge. This comes down to two-and-a-half hours using a dedicated wallbox.

Unlike the standard Prius, the PHEV has two electric motors, and together with a 1.8-litre petrol engine, produces a total of 120bhp.

This is good enough for a best of 10.7 seconds from zero to 60 miles an hour, and an official figure of 217 miles per gallon, with just 28 grammes per kilometre in emissions, meaning zero road tax.

In the reality of everyday driving of course, no-one is going to get close to that figure, but nonetheless, it is capable of around 60mpg with care.

Power goes to the front wheels via a continuously variable (CVT) automatic gearbox, which makes for very easy driving, but in this case, it takes a little getting used to.

In other cars that use a CVT, including some made by Toyota, the box is computer controlled to feel similar to a standard auto's gear changes.

In this one however, it's left to do things on its own, and so the engine sound rarely seems to bear any relation to the speed if you push your right foot down for better acceleration.

The engine revs soar up to a high point and stay there, while the car's speed catches up.

You soon get used to this, but it is disconcerting at first.

All this said, it is still one of the most economical PHEV cars at the moment, and those low, low running costs should be of interest to a large number of drivers.

The Prius is very quiet and refined once up to cruising speed, with a slippery shape and narrow tyres helping tremendously.

Soft suspension and the extra weight of the battery makes for a fair amount of roll in the corners, but the ride, with small wheels and high profile tyres, is very good.

Quality is excellent throughout, - it is a Toyota after all - with very good fit and finish, even if there are some hard plastics inside.

It's easy to pick a model as there are only two.

The entry model is the Business Edition comes with keyless entry and starting, touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charger, heated front seats, reversing camera, blind-spot monitor, and head-up display on the top of the dash.

Excel grade brings parking sensors front and rear, a 10 speaker JBL sound system, sat nav, automatic parking assist and leather upholstery.

Pay around £19,450 for a ‘19 19-reg Business Edition Plus, or £26,850 for a ‘21 21-reg Excel.

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