When the first Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid was introduced in 2012, it was an attempt to prove that Toyota could still lead the technological avant-garde of the hybrid car market that it had kicked off in the late 1990s.
It wasn’t a very convincing one, though, given that it only had enough battery range to cover about 11 miles before calling on its petrol engine, and yet it was significantly more expensive than the regular Prius.
Fortunately, this second-generation model looks much more promising – at least on paper. For starters, it's based on the same mechanicals as the latest regular Prius, which is a good enough car to earn a four-star What Car? rating. Also, the battery has twice the capacity of its predecessor’s and is supposedly good for an electric-only range of up to 39 miles.
Okay, the car doesn’t quite deliver on that promise in the real world, as we’ll go on to explain, but it will still get you farther on electricity alone than its nearest rivals.
The downside is that the Plug-in is quite a bit more expensive than the regular Prius. And while Toyota gives improved electric-only range and performance with one hand, it takes away a certain amount of practicality with the other. Is this a fair trade? That's one of the questions we'll be answering in this review.