Toyota Prius Prime 2021 – Review, Specs, Photos

The 2021 Toyota Prius Prime is the plug-in-hybrid member of the Prius family, and the one with the more attractive, more traditional-looking hatchback body style. Aside from aesthetics, the Prime distinguishes itself with 25 miles of electric-only driving range and an EPA-estimated combined rating of 54 mpg. That’s very competitive fuel economy, and it comes at an even more competitive price. As the industry introduces more electric vehicles based on a crossover body style, the hatchback Prius Prime will continue to distinguish itself aesthetically. Unfortunately, it’s also distinguished by apathetic acceleration and unenthusiastic driving responses. Still, for those who want not just a hybrid but a Toyota, this one is the pinnacle of the Prius brand. Full review and all information about the car – 2021 Toyota Prius Prime.

New Toyota Prius Prime 2021

To celebrate 20 years of Prius sales in the U.S., Toyota is offering a special edition with unique exterior trim. It’s one of the few updates we can expect for the 2021 Toyota Prius lineup that should arrive later this year. Despite being a 2021 model, the special edition wears the Prius 2021 Edition badge. Blacked-out 17-inch wheels, headlights, B-pillars, and mirror caps lend it a stealthy look. The model also features a color-keyed rear spoiler and is available in two paint colors: Supersonic Red or Wind Chill Pearl. Open the doors, and it looks like a regular Prius, except with “2021” insignias on the floor mats. Other subtle updates include a black shift knob, black A-pillar trim, and smoked HVAC vents. Since it’s based on the XLE grade, you’ll find leatherette seats, wireless phone charging, and a standard 7-inch touchscreen inside the cabin. Toyota Prius Prime 2021 – photos colors and price in this article!


Overall, the Prius’ cabin is functional and easy to use. Upfront, all of the important vehicle gauges are arranged in a center-mounted digital cluster, allowing for a commanding view of the road ahead. The small, blue gear selector is a bit finicky, but otherwise, the Prius’ interior is pretty straightforward. The 2021 Prius is a compact car, but offers plenty of head- and legroom for both front and rear passengers. The hatchback shape provides added versatility; you’ll find 24.6 cubic feet of space in the trunk, which expands to 62.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. This gives the diminutive Prius SUV-like hauling ability. Toyota Prius Prime 2021 – see the photo in the gallery on our website.


With no mechanical changes, quality-of-life items are what’s new for 2021. These include standard SiriusXM satellite radio, plus Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Android Auto users are still out of luck, though. The back seat sees a couple of changes, with two additional USB ports and an optional fifth seat. The trim names have changed to LE, XLE, and Limited, in line with other Prius models, rather than last year’s Plus, Premium, and Advanced. All three levels go up $275 in price for 2021. XLE and Limited trims continue to feature a dashboard-dominating 11.6-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation.


The Prius’ key competitors are the Honda Insight sedan, Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, Kia Niro crossover. None of those vehicles offer all-wheel drive, but we like the Insight for its more handsome design, better-quality interior materials, and more engaging driving experience. The Niro offers a lot of functionality thanks to its more upright shape, and it offers more onboard technology than the Prius, too.

Fuel economy

Every Prius comes with a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors. The 2021 Toyota Prius AWD-e model adds a third electric motor at the rear that powers the rear wheels. Total system output is 121 horsepower. Fuel economy, as expected, is exceptional. Most trim levels return 54 mpg in the city, 50 mpg on the highway and 52 mpg in combined driving. In the L Eco trim, these figures are slightly better, coming in at 58 mpg city/53 mpg hwy/56 mpg combined. AWD-equipped Prius models return 52 mpg city/48 mpg hwy/50 mpg combined. These differences may seem significant, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the annual fuel cost difference between the Eco and AWD-e would only be $100, with the base version falling right in between.


The standard 2021 Toyota Prius is EPA-estimated to return 54 miles per gallon city, 50 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined, making it one of the most efficient gasoline-powered cars available today. A special Eco model, which has special tires and small aerodynamic tweaks, improves those ratings to 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 56 mpg combined. On the other hand, the addition of all-wheel drive reduces the Prius’ efficiency somewhat, with the AWD-e model rated at 52 mpg city, 48 mpg highway and 50 mpg combined. That said, in our testing, we’ve frequently seen efficiency numbers in the high 50s and low 60s; as always, your mileage may vary.

Technical specifications

The Prius Prime has a four-cylinder engine that works with an electric motor, a battery pack, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) to maximize the Prime’s efficiency. In that regard, it succeeds, but the miserly powertrain is otherwise uninspiring. The Prime switches effortlessly and smoothly between gas and electric propulsion, while three driving modes (Power, Normal, and Eco) attempt to affect the perception of acceleration. None will produce anything approaching quickness. Its battery can recharge at either a standard 120-volt household outlet, which takes about 5.5 hours, or in about two hours at a 240-volt outlet. The Prime is generally comfortable and suitable for jaunts around town. However, its ride turns jittery and harsh when it encounters badly blemished pavement. Clicking the shifter into the B position increases regenerative braking and causes the Prime to slow down noticeably as soon as the driver lifts off the accelerator. In Normal mode, drivers won’t notice the Prime’s regen, and while the transition from regenerative to friction braking is smooth, it’s difficult to brake gently or early enough to stay in the Eco zone of the Prius’s driving meter.


After switching over to a nomenclature more in line with the rest of the Toyota lineup in 2021, the Prius continues with L Eco, LE, XLE and Limited trims for 2021. AWD is available with only the LE or XLE trims and carries a $1,000 price premium. There is also the plug-in Prius Prime, which we’ve reviewed separately. The Prius L Eco ($25,155) comes standard with 15-in alloy wheels, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, LED headlights, automatic high beams, heated mirrors, proximity entry and push-button start, adaptive cruise control, a backup camera, automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, a 60/40 split folding back seat, a 7-in touchscreen with Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility, three USB ports, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker sound system that includes a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a media player interface. The LE ($26,365) adds parking sensors, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, a rear window wiper and a cargo cover. The LE AWD-e ($27,365) adds fog lights and different wheel covers, plus its AWD system and a different battery pack better suited to colder temperatures. The XLE ($29,205) adds 17-in wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, SofTex vinyl seating, steering wheel and door trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, different interior trim and wireless smartphone charging. The XLE AWD-e ($30,205) adds the LE version’s extra equipment plus heated front seats. An available package adds a head-up display and adaptive/auto-leveling headlights. The Limited ($33,330) includes the XLE’s options plus Safety Connect emergency communications, an 11.6-in vertically oriented touchscreen, integrated navigation, satellite and HD radios and a 10-speaker JBL sound system. A sunroof and 15-in wheels are optional on the front-wheel-drive Prius XLE and Limited.


The Prius comes standard with an impressive list of safety features. Besides the usual array of anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, front-side airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags, it also includes a driver knee airbag, a passenger seat cushion airbag, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are also standard on all but the basic L Eco model. In government crash tests, the Prius received five stars for overall crash safety, plus four stars for frontal protection and five stars for side protection. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Prius a Top Safety Pick for its high scores in all categories.


All three Prius Prime models have the same EPA ratings, which are 55 mpg city and 53 highway for the gasoline engine. Combined with electricity from the hybrid system, the government estimates it will earn 133 MPGe. This makes the Prime a good choice for fuel-conscious buyers—but its limited electric-only driving range is a demerit. An EPA-rated 25 miles of pure-electric range may be enough for some daily commutes, but it’s less than half of the range offered by the Volt. Likewise, the Primes we tested on our 200-mile fuel-economy route missed their EPA highway rating. However, since we test at a considerably higher speed (75 mph) than the EPA, we’d be impressed by any plug-in that was able to equal its EPA number. In hybrid mode, the Prime Plus earned 47 mpg highway and the Premium model earned 49 mpg. We also tested each in EV mode where the Plus earned 116 MPGe and the Premium earned 118.


The 2021 Toyota Prius starts at a very affordable $24,200, not including destination. That’s for the L Eco model, which offers the best fuel economy rating of any Prius. LE, XLE and Limited trims come in at $25,410, $28,250 and $32,375, respectively, the latter two getting niceties like larger, 17-inch wheels (as opposed to 15s on other models), LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an eight-way power driver’s seat, Qi wireless smartphone charging and more. All-wheel drive is only available on the LE and XLE grades, priced from $26,810 and $29,250, respectively.


For two decades, the Toyota Prius has been the go-to choice for both eco-warriors and drivers simply looking to save money on fuel costs. But new rivals are debuting every year, and even the mighty Prius must innovate to stay on top. Last year, Toyota made some changes to bolster the Prius’ appeal, such as improving the cabin materials and adding optional all-wheel drive. This year, the 2021 Toyota Prius continues the theme of improvement with a revised touchscreen and — finally — the introduction of Apple CarPlay. This generation Prius offers a comfortable ride quality, roomy seating and generous cargo space. Acceleration is no more than adequate, but it might be worth the trade-off if it means you only have to fill up once or twice a month. Though estimates vary slightly by trim, the EPA rates the Prius at 50 mpg or higher in combined driving. Overall, we applaud Toyota’s commitment to keeping the Prius fresh. But that isn’t to say it’s the best. Its sluggish acceleration is no longer the punchline it once was, but rivals are quicker and only marginally less fuel-efficient. We particularly suggest checking out the Honda Insight for its more satisfying performance and more traditional styling. Other options might include the new Corolla Hybrid or the Kia Niro. Notably, we picked the 2021 Toyota Prius as one of Edmunds’ Best Gas Mileage Cars for 2021.

Release date

There is no official on-sale date set for the 2021 Toyota Prius, but based on previous production schedules, we expect production to kick off in July 2021. Pricing for the 2021 Prius remains unclear, but we expect no drastic changes from its current pricing range of $25,280 to $33,455 (destination fees included). This thrifty liftback sedan will compete with the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, Honda Insight, and Kia Niro.


The Toyota Prius is exceptionally fuel efficient, and that’s not expected to change for 2021. Toyota is once again estimating 54/50 mpg city/highway for the standard version. Buyers will also have the choice of the Prius AWD and Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Two decades since its introduction, the Prius remains at the top of the dedicated hybrid game. Toyota has sold more than 1.9 million Priuses in the U.S. since its launch, and more than 6 million have been sold worldwide. For the 2021 model year, there will be a total of 10 hybrid vehicles in the automaker’s stable. Toyota says it will introduce two all-new hybrids at a product showcase on May 18th, so stay tuned.

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