With a pure-electric range of 12 miles in our tests, the previous-generation Toyota Prius Plug-in didn’t have much added value compared to a traditional Prius. Go up one mild incline and, zip, you’re running on gasoline just like a regular Prius.

For the 2017 model year, however, Toyota will sell an updated plug-in version that will get a claimed 22 miles on only electricity. That puts it much closer to the typical one-way commute distance of many suburban Americans. It also can cruise on electric-only power at speeds up to 84 mph, Toyota claims.

Although it will have slightly altered styling than the redesigned 2016 Prius, the Prius Prime that arrives this fall rides on the same upgraded platform that will carry across most of Toyota’s midsized vehicles. Sporting a more responsive suspension setup than the outgoing model, this new Prius platform has significantly improved the standard Prius’ driving dynamics, making it more engaging to drive.

To aid the Prius Prime’s range, Toyota used a wind-cheating design and also incorporated lightweight aluminum for the hood and carbon fiber for the rear hatchback. Even when not running in EV mode, the Prius Prime’s software will frequently rely on electric power, boosting range to a claimed fully fueled and charged distance of 600 miles or more.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

As for recharging, Toyota says the battery pack can be filled from empty in less than six hours from a standard household outlet, and in half the time with a 240-volt source. That means the Prius Prime can be fully recharged overnight or during a typical work day. The Prius Prime's ports will work ChargePoint's network of 20,000 stations, 60 percent of which are free to use.

Available, but not standard, are the following safety features: pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and automatic braking; lane-departure alert with steering assist; and all-speed adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a complete stop. Automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are also available. Intelligent Parking Assist can help the Prius Prime squeeze into tight parallel-parking spots.

An 11.6-inch center display screen with swipe-and-drag capability rivals those in the Tesla Model S and Volvo XC90 for the wow factor.

In Consumer Reports’ Owner Satisfaction survey, plug-in hybrids had varying results. The outgoing Prius Plug-in, with its meager electric range, had less satisfied owners than a standard Prius. However, the Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in, with a better 18-mile range, received higher owner satisfaction scores than a typical C-Max hybrid. In our tests, we got the equivalent of 94 mpg overall with the C-Max Energi running solely on electricity, much better than the old Prius Plug-in's 67 mpg. More electric-only range promises more satisfaction and more choices when the Prius Prime goes on sale.  

2017 Toyota Prius Prime