2017 Toyota Prius Prime
The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime offers more, but not too much more, than the typical hybrid; though it certainly offers more than the Prius plug-in that it replaces.
By way of explanation, the EV-only range of the Prime is now 25-miles at up to 84 miles-per-hour. That’s double the range it claimed before, but still only half of the Chevrolet Volt’s EV range.
The mileage increase comes by way of both powertrain updates, enabling both motor-generators to now power the car, and a larger 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery.
The gas engine itself remains the same 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle I4; and combined system output continues at 121-horsepower.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are estimated to be 55-City, 53-Highway, and 54-Combined; with an EV-mode MPGe rating of 133.
Charging time is a bit over 2-hours on 240-volts; about 5½-hours on standard 120. But, the battery never gets fully depleted, as normal Prius operation kicks in when EV-only range is reached. Toyota puts total range before plugging in, or topping off, at 640-miles.
The Prius Prime’s new mission calls for a new look; as both front and rear styling are distinctive from standard Prius fare.
Sharper lines, a black facia with bigger air intakes, and ultra-low profile LED headlights portray both a more eco-conscious look, and at the same time, add some sporty flair as well.
Wheels are 15-inch alloys, but with 2-tone covers that are designed to maximize air flow.
In back, things are very different with full-width LED taillights, a dual wave rear window, and a carbon-fiber rear hatch. Primarily in place for weight-saving, it also makes opening a little easier. Space beneath it, is taken up somewhat by the larger battery pack, reducing cargo capacity from 27.4 cubic-ft. to a still good 19.8.
Nothing major stood out to us in terms of ride quality, during our drive time in Southern California. Prime feels smooth and composed over just about any road surface.
There is about 300-lbs. of additional weight; you won’t really notice it so much in handling situations, but you can certainly feel it off the line. There’s a lot of buzzing and whirring going on, but not much propulsion; expect a 0-60 time of 10 seconds plus.
Shuffling between power sources remains as seamless as always; and at cruising speeds, except for some tire noise, things are pretty quiet. Visibility remains very good all around.
Overall, the interior is just fine, even if our car’s, heated, simulated-leather covered seats were still not truly long distance comfortable. There are a host of tech upgrades for Prime, and trim structure differs from the standard Prius; going from Plus to Premium to Advanced. All except for Plus trim sport a larger Tesla-like 11.6-inch central touchscreen. It really blends in quite nicely and looks great. But we found actual function to be a little laggy.
There’s only adequate width for two in the rear seat, but plenty of leg room to be found, even if the slopping roof takes a toll on adult headroom.
While the Chevrolet Volt may offer more range, the Prime has quite an advantage when it comes to pricing, as it is still a very reasonable $27,965. Whether that’s worth the $2,400 over a base Prius depends on your green driving desires. Top level Advanced trim moves closer to Volt at $33,965. Regardless, the Prius, in all of its iterations remains a lot of eco-minded car for the money.
With that being said, it’s hard to envision the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime being a major player. As it still seems to appeal to the few people who want a bit more battery range than a traditional hybrid can offer, but aren’t yet ready to make the jump to a full EV. But there’s no denying it’s a better option than the preceding Prius plug-in, which may be enough to make it a “prime mover” for the Toyota faithful.
- Engine: 1.8 liter
- Horsepower: 121
- 0-60 mph: 10.0-11.0 seconds
- EPA: 55 mpge city / 53 mpge highway,
2024 Mazda CX-90
A Force To Be Reckoned With
If you’ve been following Mazda lately, you’ll know they’ve been fielding some serious new designs; you could even say, they’re latest efforts are 10-times better than before. After all, the CX-3 became the CX-30, then CX-5 became the CX-50, and now it’s the CX-9’s turn. So, let’s find out if this all-new CX-90, their largest SUV yet, is a real multiplier or if it’s all just a numbers game.
Don’t think of this 2024 Mazda CX-90 so much as an updated version of the CX-9, as it’s more of a complete rethink of their 3-row crossover, the first built on an all-new, large vehicle platform for the brand. And this platform carries a host of surprises. Not only does it make the CX-90 bigger by every dimension, but it’s a rear-drive architecture, and features all-new powertrains, including the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, and even an inline-6 engine.
Why an inline-6 to replace the CX-9’s turbo-4? Well, in general terms, I6s are better balanced, run smoother, and can deliver more torque at lower RPM. Just ask the BMW faithful, or any of the truckers you see going down the road hauling more than 20-tons of cargo with their inline-6s.
There are 2-versions of the longitudinally mounted 6, both assisted by turbocharging and a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Output for the base Turbo is 280-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque; this Turbo S cranks it up to 340-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. The PHEV, on the other hand, is based on a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I4, working with a 100-kW electric motor to deliver 323-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. A 17.8-kWh battery delivers 26-miles of EV driving.
It’s not the prettiest SUV, but it does have very smooth body work; plus, the longer hood and 7½-inches of wheelbase stretch over the CX-9, give it more stately proportions. All CX-90s come with i-Activ all-wheel drive and the brand’s first 8-speed automatic transmission; the longer wheelbase allows tow ratings to step up from 3,500-lbs. to 5,000.
At the test track, our Turbo S launched effortlessly with good grip on the way to a 6.4-second 0-60. The smooth vibes continued throughout the ¼-mile, with refined power delivery, seamless shifts, and a noticeably more solid and stable feel at speed than the CX-9. Our best time was 14.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, it still behaves like a Mazda, with very good steering feel and a solid presence in corners at low to moderate speeds. Some understeer and body roll will show up when pushed hard, but Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control uses subtle selective braking to help the vehicle rotate, and safety systems will step in well-before it gets out of sorts.
There’s a nice firm feel to the brake pedal, delivering good stopping results of 118-feet from 60 miles-per-hour. You can feel a lot of weight transfer, but nosedive was well contained.
Another unique element the CX-90 brings is seating arrangements for 6,7, or 8. It’s the 8-seater that’s standard with 3-across bench seating for 2nd and 3rd rows. 7-seaters get either captain’s chairs in the 2nd row, or more contoured seats for the 3rd; 6-seaters sport 2nd row captains and the contoured 3rd row. Cargo capacity varies with seating, but is at best 15.9 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 40.1 behind the 2nd, and 75.2 with all seats folded.
As far as what it’s like to actually live with, the CX-90’s cabin is a clear step up, including on some trims suede-like materials, intricate stitching, and real wood, all consistent with what we’ve seen from the brand lately. A 10-inch dashtop touchscreen is standard for infotainment, with upper trims getting a larger 12.3-incher. We applaud Mazda’s inclusion of plenty of old-school manual controls for radio and climate, which keeps menu diving limited to secondary functions. PHEVs get a few unique controls and readouts to monitor drive modes and battery level.
Overall, the CX-90 is highly functional, entertainingly sporty to drive, and will be more competitive in the ever growing 3-row family crossover segment; and its posh interior may even attract luxury buyers on a budget.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Turbo S are 23-City, 28-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a good 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing begins with the base Turbo at Select trim for $40,970, PHEVs are available in Preferred trim and above starting at $48,820, and the Turbo S starts at $53,125.
Force multiplier is a military term for when strategic elements come together to produce results greater than would have been possible without them. Well, no high-level math skills are necessary here to see that the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is clearly more than just a much better CX-9; it’s now a force to be reckoned with in the 3-row family crossover segment.
- Engine: 3.3-liter I-6
- Horsepower: 340
- 0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 26.5 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 369 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EPA: 23 City / 28 Highway / 25 Combined
- Starting Price: $40,970