Road Test Review – 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In Is Quietly Excellent, More Iso-Tank Than Eco-Warrior



Prius PHEV gif

INTRO:

Here is the scene: you are in traffic. It is a work-day and you are behind a dawdling Prius.

‘How the **** is that car going so slowly!?

Oh, this guy is coasting up to red lights now!?’

Cue the inpatient passing maneuver/lane change or silent sulking while looking at the familiar Prius tail shape.

Has this ever happened to you? We bet it has.

The difference for sports-car drivers – or drivers who push every machine like a sports-car?

Slight annoyance gives way to murderous rage after a few stoplights like this. And not just hatred for the driver, but the Prius nameplate itself.

“Everything the Prius stands for must be punished!

These hypermilers are clogging the roadway with their high-minded slowness!”

After spending a week with the 2014 Prius Plug-In, we see the other side of the coin very, very clearly. We have reached a zen state of calm, and your fuming behind us or honks of defiance seem like a birdsong from a past life.

You see, the Prius Plug-In is like driving the smoothest therapy session you have ever had. It is like a silent dunk in the dark, 88-degree waters of a peace capsule for a floating nap.

In short: the Prius Plug-In is not just the anti-sports-car. It is such a blissful ride that it should, in fact, be the official second car of any supercar owner.

Let’s dive into this review with the usual format: Exterior, Interior, Drive Experience and Summary.

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EXTERIOR:

You know what the Prius looks like in this best-selling third-gen design. On the roads since 2011 or so, this smooth time-release capsule has the profile one might sketch in study hall of an all-purpose eco car. Pointy in the front, larger over the cabin and occupants’ heads, and a tall-tailgate Kamm shape for the rear end.

But spend some time with the 2014 Prius Plug-In, and some real affection actually forms for this familiar shape. Details come to light that were not visible before. It is like a lover in how pretty it becomes. Seriously!

Even cropping these photos, we smiled at the memories piloting this pillbox.

The Plug-In Hybrid has a few accents not on the base cars: LED driving lights in the front lower corners that are a quad-beam design in tastefully-bright wattages. Some additional lower bumper accent brightwork livens things up in the lower nose, while the tail-lamps are a cascading waterfall of LED lines out back.

A special extra plug door carries some embellishments in the shape of an electric plug, while there are additional Plug-In badges on the flanks.

Nothing major.

The color, long a hated hue for this supercar-lover, is innocuous and actually a bit Tiffany-blue in certain lights. Harmless.

The wheels are tiny and the windows are huge, but no other car gives such a body high. So, you start to like it.

We especially surprised ourself to note the handsome long-tail rear spoiler element in the giant tailgate. This extends rear-ward a good six inches to smooth airflow behind the car at speed, versus bouncing around chaotically and creating drag.

A lover’s eye sees beauty in the Prius. If you love being relaxed — and we all do — you will grow to admire the Prius’s design and even this vile color.

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INTERIOR:

Now here, as a non-driver of Priuses and only a frequent back-seat passenger of various Prius taxicabs, is where additional shock therapy comes to play.

In photos or from the back seat, the Prius’s dashboard and front cabin seem ridiculous. That is: deserving ridicule.

But guess what!?

It is comfy and serene from butt-down number one. What looks like a space-age gear knob is an absolute piece of cake to use. Far better than the latest BMW and Mercedes-Benz drive selectors, which can still be tricky a week later. This is easy easy easy.

Plop it down and left for drive. Straight down for regen-setting Drive, and up-left for Reverse.

Button-push for Park is foolproof and eyes-free.

The seats are cushy but comfortable, and the view out is outstanding. The gauges are useful and not distracting from the silent drive bliss the Plug-In delivers. The touch-controls on the sloping dash panel are a bit modern for some, and can take a big jab to make sure you activate something. The nav screen is touch-controlled and simple to use, although the Satellite radio reception was very pool in this tree-lined area of the South-eastern USA. It cuts out in any direct shade from a big tree, which is somewhat irritating.

One highlight in particular is the electrostatic twin control panels on the steering wheel spokes. These sense both a direct button push of the high-tech selectors, but also a thumb grazing over them. With this lighter touch, a recreated image of the controls appears in the dash screens — helping confirm you are about to select the right command. It is far harder to describe in words than it is to use correctly first-time, every time. This is not a feature shared with other lexus of Toyota models, as far as we know, but it should be. It makes regular buttons seem very yester-tech.

 

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DRIVE EXPERIENCE:

We have already waxed joyful about how chill and relaxing the Prius Plug-In is to drive.

But, here are two other good pieces of news:

— It is NOT SLOW! The Prius Plug-In can be driven hard and create a big giggle moment on full throttle. It has EV, Eco or Power modes to select from, and all are as promised. In Power mode, a floored throttle makes the entire car zoom to attention. It whirrrrrs itself down the road pretty convincingly, with no shunting or awkward engine fire-ups or CVT hiccups. It just works. Well.

— The Prius Plug-In handles really well!

However shocking these two relevations may be, they are the gods-honest truth. Both are best in this up-market Plug-In model versus the base cars, so much larger is this battery pack. It is a big pack and mounted low in the rear below the seats. This creates a brilliantly balanced handling feel that also helps the Prius Plug-In to feel pretty peppy and also ride with remarkable aplomb. It just doesnt mind bumps. Or curves. Or braking. Or floored-throttle starts.

Chill is the name of the game in the Prius PHEV.

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SUMMARY:

So, we loved the Prius Plug-In. Like so many market-leading products, as they gain a huge amount of fans — outsiders are tempted to think the whole world has gone mad. How is everyone loving these Crocs, for example, or those iPhones, or those fill-in-the-blanks.

Then you own one for a day or two. And you have the big “a-ha” moment: this product is fantastic and I am never going back!

The Prius Plug-In is like that for cars. Sure, it gets good mileage. And is easy to charge with an orange garage extension cord.

But did I track mileage or hypermile in my cruising?

Nope. But 50-mpg in hybrid mode or 95 MPGe in full-battery plug-in mode is soothing to the subconscious all the same.

As the ideal supercar alternative, we simply enjoyed the Prius Plug-in’s standard sense of driver calm and inner peace. Who knew: the Prius Plug-In saves a great amount of mental energy as well as physical fuel!?

‘Jah Bless. Prius love forever, mon.’

 

PRICING

  • 2015 Prius Plug-in   $29,990

  • 2015 Prius Plug-in Advanced  $34,905

 

PHOTO LOCATIONS:

  • Seabrook Island, South Carolina: Tennis Club, Equestrian Center, Dolphin Kayaking and Ocean Tidal Point.

Canine Models:

  • Tank Burkart – Shiba-Shepherd

  • Drake Burkart – Akita Labrador

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SPEC YOUR BLISS NOW At Toyota.com

http://www.toyota.com/prius-plug-in-hybrid/#!/Welcome

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OFFICIAL DETAILS BELOW FROM TOYOTA.

2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In to Start Under $30,000

  • Base Prius Plug-in model MSRP reduced by $2,010 to $29,990
  • Prius Plug-in Advanced model MSRP reduced by $4,620 to $34,905

 

TORRANCE, Calif., Oct. 9, 2013 – It just got a little easier for drivers to maximize their fuel savings and be environmentally responsible. 

Toyota’s most advanced technology passenger car, the Prius Plug-in, will be available to customers at a substantially reduced price beginning with the 2014 model year.

Toyota has reduced MSRP on the 2014 Prius Plug-in Hybrid by over $2,000, making the starting MSRP $29,990 (excluding DPH). This price repositioning on the base Prius Plug-in Hybrid is not accompanied by any reduction in vehicle content.

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The 2014 Prius Plug-in Hybrid is well-equipped (similar to a Prius Three), but adds these appealing features:

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About The Author

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine.He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.