RICHMOND, CA – Toyota launched its new Prius Plug-in Hybrid at the Green Drive Expo in Richmond, Calif. The automaker said the new vehicle combines the benefits of the standard Prius with extended electric vehicle driving functionality.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid comes in two trim levels, standard and Advanced. The standard trim level provides the Prius Two Liftback grade’s features as well as some features from the Prius Three and Prius Four grades. MSRP for the two models are $32,000 for the standard edition and $39,525 for the Advanced model.
You can view a gallery with additional photos of the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid here.
Toyota said it expects 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid will achieve a miles-per-gallon-equivalent (MPGe) figure of 87 in combined driving and 49 MPG in hybrid mode. Toyota said the vehicle uses the standard Prius’ Hybrid Synergy Drive, but that the battery is a newly developed 4.4 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) pack. This replaces the standard Prius model’s nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery and fits under the rear cargo floor.
The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will allow operation using only electricity for up to 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mph.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive combines the electric system with a 98-horsepower 1.8L four-cylinder engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle and contributes to a maximum 134 total system horsepower. Key components include an electric water pump that requires no belts, and an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system that helps warm the engine quickly, reducing fuel consumption when the engine is cold.
Valve control, injector design, and other technologies help reduce emissions to allow the Prius Plug-in to qualify for an ATPZEV emissions rating.
The vehicle has a new onboard battery charging system and a larger 176-lb. Li-ion battery pack, but it only weighs 123 lbs. more than the standard Prius Liftback due to the use of weight-saving techniques applied in other parts of the vehicle.
The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in weights 3,165 lbs. versus 3,042 lbs. for the Prius Liftback and 3,373 lbs. for the Plug-in test-fleet model. The automaker said it tuned the suspension to take into account this weight change.
The automaker added new multi-information display additions to the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. A new EV Drive Ratio display records the ratio of driving distance covered by EV power, and the Hybrid System Indicator shows possible EV driving range when in EV mode. An Eco Savings Record screen, new to both the 2012 updated Prius and the Prius Plug-in, allows drivers to measure their savings over a customizable pre-set comparison vehicle. The pre-set areas include fuel cost for a gallon of gas and miles-per-gallon average, Toyota stated.
Fully charging the new vehicle takes between two and a half and three hours using a 120-volt outlet, or one-and-a-half hours using a 240-volt outlet. The vehicle comes with a 120-volt charging cable that connects to the charging port inlet, which is located on the right-rear fender.
Toyota said it designed the external charging system to be easy and safe to use. The battery charger cable is 24 feet long, weighs 3.75 lbs., and fits its own compartment in the trunk area.
The port is located behind a spring-loaded push-open door on the right-rear fender. The charge port provides LED illumination for nighttime charging. A timer allows charging to take place during off-peak hours. A user can set charge start and end times on the timer.
In the event of a malfunction, the Charging Circuit Interrupter Device (CCID) in the cable will stop the flow of electricity, and the indicator lamp will flash. There is also a self-test button, similar to that used on household kitchen and bathroom electrical outlets, Toyota stated. A rubber stopper prevents the charging port door from snapping shut when closing.
Externally, the Prius Plug-in inherits the standard model’s 0.25 Cd. coefficient of drag. It also features exclusive exterior trim, including chrome-like finish for the door handles, front grille, rear license plate garnish, and the battery charging door. It also features unique badges, blue-accent headlamps, and LED taillight clusters. It is available in five exterior colors, including the new Clearwater Blue.
The automaker said it uses plant-derived, carbon-neutral plastics in its Prius models. Known as “ecological plastic,” the material is used in a range of exterior components, including the cowl side trim, inner and outer scuff plates, and deck trim cover.
The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid seats five and provides the same amount of cargo as the Prius Liftback model. There is no reduction in rear seat passenger room from the standard Prius model, with seating for three and 36.0 inches of legroom. The seat-cushion foam also uses ecological plastic. Heated seats are standard on the Prius Plug-in Hybrid.
Other standard features include the Smart Key System on three doors with push-button start and remote illuminated entry, and the Touch Tracer Display. The Touch Tracer Display system provides touch sensors on the steering wheel switches, which are designed to help the driver focus on the road.
The Advanced trim level offers SofTex interior seat trim, eight-way adjustable power driver seat, a JBL premium audio and HDD navigation system, and exclusive Entune Plug-in Hybrid Applications for smartphones.
When it comes to infotainment options, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid has a new touch-screen display audio and navigation system with rear backup camera and Toyota’s new Entune multimedia services as standard. Toyota Entune debuts support for mobile apps, such as Bing, OpenTable, and MovieTickets.com, along with access to travel-related services, such as live weather, traffic, fuel information (location and price), stocks, and sports. The system also offers access to various online music services. Access to Entune services (and Plug-in Hybrid Applications in the Advanced trim level) is complimentary for three years.
The audio systems combined with Entune feature a conversational voice-recognition system. It allows for audio read-back and replay capabilities for text messages, and a vehicle occupant can respond using pre-set quick-reply messages, such as: “I’m driving and will reply later.”
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid will feature Toyota’s Star Safety System (TSSS) as standard. TSSS includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, and the Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.
An available Pre-Collision System (PCS), paired with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, retracts seatbelts and applies the brakes when the vehicle’s systems determine a frontal crash is unavoidable. The Prius Plug-in will also come standard with seven airbags. Also available is Safety Connect, which includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, emergency assistance button (SOS), and roadside assistance with a three-year complimentary subscription included.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers additional safety features in the Advanced trim level, which includes the Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Safety Connect system. The latter can access a call center with a live operator who can dispatch police and emergency vehicles. The system combines automatic collision notification and a stolen vehicle locator feature, which can track the location of the stolen vehicle via GPS.
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and against corrosion with no mileage limitation.
The automaker said the the hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, and the battery-charging system and cable/connector, are covered for eight years/100,000 miles (10 years/150,000 miles for CARB states).
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid will also come standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for three years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.