Tag Archives: hybrid

Ferrari 296 GTB
EVs ExplainedFeatures

Five myths about plug-in hybrids debunked (and four downsides to buying one)

When anything in life offers the best of both worlds and with little compromise, it’s almost always a solid choice. Diet Coke, the Long Beach Grand Prix, salty and sweet candy—life’s full of it. How does the LBGP come into play here, you may ask? Because it offers some of the best motorsports action, ever, and it’s not stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Another area where you’re having the best of both worlds is plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) ownership. That’s because these economical steeds offer all the convenience of being primarily powered by an internal combustion engine, yet also have an electric motor that tackles some propulsion and boosts overall fuel economy.

However, there are some common misconceptions about PHEVs out there that need to be addressed. By that same token, there are some actual downsides to discuss as well, as having all the information one needs before diving into owning one is just as important. Let’s plug in!

Image credit: Jeep

Myth: PHEVs are slow and not fun to drive

While a lot of folks who are well in tune with the automotive industry may say this isn’t actually a common misconception, it’s important to clear the air and ensure that even the most casual observers know what’s up.

PHEVs are actually quite the opposite: They’re quicker than their non-hybrid and full-hybrid counterparts. That’s because the electric motor is more integrated into acceleration, thus providing all that sweet instant torque to rip off the line. The latest 2023 Toyota Prius Prime, which I’ve had the opportunity to sample for myself, is the perfect example—the normal hybrid is no slouch for its class, but the Prime is shockingly fun to rip around in.

Additionally, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe is quite possibly the neatest off-road experience, ever. Battery-sourced instant torque bodes so well for crawling, and the silent powertrain really helps out the senses with precision inputs. If you listen carefully with the doors removed, you can hear its all-terrain tires’ individual tread blocks grasp at the terra firma.

Don’t forget that the BMW XM is a PHEV as well. It may not be a looker, but it’s quite fast. So is the Ferrari 296 GTB, the McLaren Artura, and several other super and hypercars.

Image credit: McLaren

Myth: PHEVs’ EV-only range is too short

While PHEVs of yore only possessed a handful of miles when in EV-only service, this figure’s only gone up as battery technology has progressed.

For example, the aforementioned 296 GTB can go a whole 15 miles solely on battery power. OK, that’s actually a poor example, what I meant to justify my point with is the 2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge, which can go as far as 32 miles humming along. Er, that’s an improvement, but not the best example, either. The Prius Prime and its larger RAV4 Prime cousin both get over 40 miles of EV-only range, but weirdly, the latest Range Rover Sport has ‘em all beat: a reported EPA-rated 51 miles.

McLaren Artura Powetrain X-Ray
Image credit: McLaren

Myth: PHEVs have just as high maintenance and repair costs as ICE vehicles

This one’s coming from the EV, more specifically BEV (battery electric vehicle), owners who could be considered hardcore, true believers in an EV-only lifestyle. As reported by Consumer Reports a few years back (thanks to Torque News), PHEVs will have slightly lower costs of ownership over the lifetime of a BEV. BEVs have the lowest costs in the short term, but still, PHEVs’ are nowhere near an ICE car’s.

On the flip side, the convenience factor of PHEV ownership is quite appealing and is the best example of the best of both worlds: Excellent overall fuel economy, some battery-only range, lower running costs than an ICE vehicle, a smaller battery with a smaller replacement cost than an EV, no dependence on our nation’s current charging infrastructure, and more.

Image credit: Volvo

Myth: As PHEVs’ battery-only range increases, you might as well just buy a BEV

This one’s quite easy to extinguish, and again was reported on by Torque News: You might as well buy a BEV with all that electric-only range. This completely disregards many folks lacking local charging infrastructure, range needs, and more. Plus, what if you want to be unencumbered by charging infrastructure while on a lengthy road trip? It also means that some households may not need to park an additional car in their driveway to satisfy longer-range needs.

Again, this is best of both worlds content. Many folks can fulfill their daily range needs, potentially over the course of a day or two, and not have to worry about plugging in once they’re out of juice. Plus, PHEVs have regenerative braking that helps charge the battery, thus always having at least a little bit of zap in the metaphorical tank.

Myth: PHEVs don’t have the same tax benefits as BEVs

This one’s also easy to extinguish: Green Car Reports does a great job clarifying the IRS’ guidelines by sharing that there are still some excellent tax benefits to cash in on for 2023 and 2024. MSRP comes into play, and it must be a model that’s made in the USA, Mexico, or Canada, and has a battery that’s made in the USA. But there are still some solid options out there. In fact, that latter bit about made-in-USA applies to BEVs as well.

For example, any qualifying (because there are income restrictions—again, it’s complicated) Jeep 4xe buyer could receive up to $3,750 off their taxes, and Chrysler Pacifica PHEV buyers could count on as much as $7,500 off.

Image credit: Toyota

Downside: PHEVs are expensive

Still, even with some federal tax relief, PHEVs have a higher up-front cost compared to ICE vehicles. It’s amortized over time in fuel savings, but that doesn’t help out folks’ shorter-term budgeting that affects the household balance sheet month-to-month.

It doesn’t help that the average new vehicle costs around $48,000, either.

Downside: PHEVs are heavy

This is par for the course with anything sporting a lithium battery somewhere bolted up to its chassis. They’re not as portly as full-on BEVs, but weight is weight, which means increased tire, brake, and bushing costs. And, it’ll always have an adverse effect on handling, no matter how you slice it. Well, unless it’s a Ferrari 296 GTB, where the battery helps keep weight well-centered within its wheelbase. And even then, it still weighs less than 3,300 lbs, which most would say is plenty for its 654 horsepower to handle. Can you tell I really want to drive a Ferrari 296 GTB?

Downside: PHEVs are complex

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You’ve got two separate powertrains at work, additional sensors, potential drivetrain additions to send their power to the wheels, a battery with its own electrical connection environment, and more. Plus, you can’t forget packaging, as the added battery presents a challenge to engineers and may result in either a larger vehicle than otherwise or a vehicle that’s more difficult to service. Or both.

Therefore, there’s more stuff to malfunction, fail, and extend/expand a factory-recommended maintenance schedule.

Image credit: Chevrolet

Downside: We need more series plug-in hybrids

Remember the Chevrolet Volt? That intuitive little fella was a series plug-in hybrid (SPHEV), more commonly known as an extended range electric vehicle (EREV). This means that only the electric motor handles propulsion while the internal combustion engine handles onboard charging duty, like a locomotive. This means you’ve got an onboard generator to cut down on visiting the charging station, or you can completely skip any combustion by plugging it in regularly like a BEV—it’s up to you.

Because of this, the Chevy Volt was truly something special, but sadly it went out of production in 2019. The upcoming 2025 Ram 1500 Ramcharger (kudos to Dodge for its name) will be an EREV, and the rotary-powered Mazda MX-30 R-EV could come to the US market someday, but otherwise, there’s nothing on sale as new at the moment. Which is a shame, as it’s a very appealing concept.

It’s important to address and analyze common misconceptions about PHEVs, especially considering the fact that they offer so much convenience over BEVs, yet burn far less fuel and have far fewer emissions than ICE vehicles. At the same time, it’s important to keep their downsides in mind, as it’s important to be well-educated on the matter before you make any major financial decisions.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale in the mountains
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

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Toyota Prius Prime
New Car Reviews

Toyota Prius Prime review: Look how far we’ve come with toasters on wheels!

Growing up, I earned my learner’s permit driving my mother’s absolutely ratchet first-generation Honda Civic Hybrid. Remember that piece of boring, banal, borderline-indistinguishable, and certainly unmemorable mediocrity? Hopefully not. However, a couple of years after I stepped up to adulthood and earned my license, my mom bought a 2008 Toyota Prius. In those days, the purposefully fugly second-gen Prius served as something of a West LA status symbol but also served the fam well as a damned good car: getting superb mileage, with plenty of room for pets and gear, and over the years, proved reliable as the day is long (once we installed a cat shield to foil constant thievery, anyhow). 

But more about the old Prius later because last year—boom!—Toyota hit us with a total redesign, a radical revamp, a veritable resuscitation of the entire concept of the commuter hybrid. And now, I finally got the chance to revisit those early days of hybrid driving in a 2024 Prius Prime, the plug-in version that best suits this West LA commuter crowd.

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Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Price and specs

Base price:$32,975
As-tested price:$34,434
Engine:2.0-liter inline-four with dual electric motors
Transmission:Single-speed + CVT
Drivetrain:Front-wheel drive
Power:220 horsepower combined
Torque:139 pound-feet
Weight:3,461 pounds (3,571 pounds as-tested)
0-60 mph:6.7s (11.2s in full EV mode) 
¼-mile:15.1 seconds @ 94 mph (hybrid), 18.7 seconds @ 75 mph in (full EV)
Top speed:112 mph
MPG:50 city, 47 highway, 48 combined
Battery capacity:13.6-kWh lithium-ion
All-electric range:44 miles (39 miles as tested)

Prius Prime exterior design

Toyota’s advertising campaign leading up to the LA Auto Show debut of the new Prius ended up coming across as a bit funny since, even considering the svelte and futuristic styling, nobody will ever consider this common car a “black sheep.” And yet, damn if that new design doesn’t hit the nail on the head. Just look at the pics! Anyone remember the first-gen Echo twin? My, how far we’ve come.

Now, my boss here at Acceleramota has already covered the “base” (non-Prime) Prius, so go ahead and click back through his review before continuing to learn more about my time with the Prime. 

The only thing I might add, in terms of exterior styling, is that I parked the Prime next to my mother’s still-cranking, sun-faded, and bird-shit-splattered 2008 Prius just for comparison—and the new car’s roofline looked around five or six inches lower! So much so that I actually Googled the official measurements. It turns out the 2024 model rides exactly 2.8 inches shorter. Not as much as my eyeballs perceived, in fairness, but a serious statement about how stellar styling can make so much of a difference in a car’s profile and presence.

What’s hot?– Some style, at last
– Plug-in hybrid system allows for choice at a reasonable cost
– Simple, stark interior
– Noticeably improved aerodynamics
– Vastly improved performance and handling

Prius Prime pricing breakdown 

The non-Prime that Jeric drove starts at $27,950, and adding the plug-in capabilities bumps the price up by $5,025. The Prime comes in three trim levels, with the SE at the bottom of the gradewalk sporting manually-adjustable fabric seats, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, a slicktop roof, and 17-inch wheels for max range. Stepping up to the XSE swaps on 19-inch wheels, which result in slightly less electric range and diminished fuel economy stats, plus a parking assist system. And the XSE Premium, topping the lineup at a $39,670 MSRP, comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen and the choice of a glass roof or an optional solar panel roof to soak up photons on sunny days.

As tested, my SE tester’s window sticker reads just about as basic as possible. Options limited to a cargo mat in the rear, door sill protectors, and wheel locks result in a $34,434 price tag—almost how I might spec my own Prius Prime. Leather or faux-leather seats might be nice for my pets and the generally filthy life I lead.

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Prius Prime interior and tech

As on a non-plug-in Prius, most of the interior and tech options come standard depending on the Prime’s trim levels: both the eight-incher and the larger screen support wireless Apple CarPlay, thankfully. For Prime specifically, though, the small gauge cluster display needs to combine EV and ICE readouts. The resulting barrage of constantly shifting charge levels, range estimates, so-called “EcoScore” and “EcoZone” stats, and driver aid widgets all get lost in their own wash, to an extent.

Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Toggling to a simplified screen cleans up some of the mess, and really, just drive more slowly to max out the range in either HV (hybrid) or EV (fully electric) mode. Otherwise, the rest of the interior—despite a lower roofline—comes across as spacious and simple, with plenty of leg and headroom for tall drivers (even in the backseat).

And kudos to Toyota for delivering a straightforward design exactly as it should be: just a toaster that toasts toast as efficiently as possible.

It’s finally Prime Day!

A bit of battery power goes a long way

Slotted in between one of the most ridiculous press loaner schedules of my professional career—as I played car Tetris with a Ferrari 296 GTS, Porsche 911 Dakar, Bentley Continental GTC Azure, and an MV Agusta Dragster America—the Prime was arguably the most important car. And I can admit to feeling a bit of excitement before actually receiving it!

Too excited, maybe, because I promptly ruined the all-electric range without even realizing it by driving straight out to the Valley in full EV mode. A big whoops but a nice lesson on figuring out the toggles and switchgear before blasting through traffic in a plug-in hybrid (while thinking that Toyota had finally solved the hybrid drone sound the whole time). But luckily, I always snag a pic of the odometer when I first get into a press car so I can report my stats and figures for that inaugural drive.

In all, I used 68% of the reported battery capacity to drive 21 entirely unaware all-electric miles. That falls right in line with the claimed EV range of 44 miles, and even better, over the course of that jaunt, the overall combined EV and ICE range actually went up by three miles.

Next, I used the supplied charge cable (housed beneath the rear cargo deck) to plug into a standard 120-volt garage outlet for almost exactly three hours. In that time, the Prime added 33% charge—again, just about spot on for the onboard computer’s prediction of a nine-hour window to fully charge up the petite 13.6-kWh lithium-ion battery. Then I drove 11 more miles in hybrid mode and checked in again to discover that doing so used zero additional percent of battery charge. 

I spent the rest of my time in the Prime trying to max out the hybrid and EV range, but I also pushed a little harder just for fun. More official testing might skew the results, presumably, but so far, Toyota’s engineering seems pretty perfect. Especially considering the typical use case, when commuters might do most of their daily driving in full EV mode and top off the battery at home every night. For longer road trips—after remembering to remember to switch into HV mode—driving over 500 miles per 10.6-gallon tank shouldn’t even require too much hypermiling diligence.

Lower, sleeker, faster, stronger

On the 405 freeway, always a true test of suspension dynamics, the Prime’s lower and tighter suspension definitely produces a bit more rollicking than a second-gen Prius. But then again, in town or on a winding road, the new setup makes most driving much more fun: peppy and quick, with a 220-horsepower combined rating, and the torque delivery is almost full-EV-like given that an electric motor modulates the ICE engine’s power on the way to the e-CVT system. I missed a bit of the hybrid glide path ride quality of earlier Priuses, but I would definitely take those 99 additional ponies versus the previous gen and even some slight torque steer in trade.

Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Equally as important, this generation seems to include more sound insulation to reduce hybrid drone and wind/tire noise—though speaking of wind, the exterior redesign also finally solves the sailing phenomenon of the second-gen on long highway bends, which was always a truly sketchy sensation.

In terms of nits to pick, the typically frustrating Toyota driver aids still chime and ding incessantly. The fact that the Prime also defaults to EV mode, rather than sticking in hybrid mode after a power cycle, requires a bit more attention than I expected. And relatively slow charging rates limited by the onboard 3.5-kW charger, without Level 3 capability, means that, for example, anyone who does space out and forget to switch into HV mode can’t rectify their mistake particularly quickly.

Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle
What’s not?– Still a hint of hybrid drone
– Automatically reverts to full EV mode instead of hybrid
– Digital gauges are still small and in a silly location
– Naggy driver aid chimes
– Slow charging rates, no Level 3

Have we reached peak Prius?

Toyota openly wants to stick with hybrids as much as possible in the foreseeable future and only plans to build EVs reluctantly. Much of the argument makes sense since minimizing the use of lithium and other rare earth minerals while maximizing the use case of each individual vehicle will serve both customers and the environment best. Prime stands as a testament to that commitment (as does, considering perhaps a contrapositive, the peculiar Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra situation).

But if government regulations don’t snap back to reality—oh, there goes (the Lucid) Gravity—then Prius may need to go full electric in the near future, as well. All of which means that there’s a solid chance this little blue car might just be peak Prius Prime, the final form of one of the most important and influential automobiles in world history—no exaggeration, truly, despite my obvious penchant for obscene hyperbole.

Toyota Prius Prime
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

And this Prime indisputably takes a major leap forward, even if the tech does so slightly less. When a fourth-gen plug-in Prius drops a good chunk below $30,000 on the used market in the next couple of years, even a rear-drive sports car and four-wheel-drive rally racing fanatic such as myself might be tempted. And that is, truly, the greatest compliment I can give.

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Volvo S60 Recharge
Buying GuidesFeatures

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with the longest all-electric range

As the world heads towards complete electrification by the end of the decade, many car manufacturers are looking for ways to go all-electric. While some automakers have eagerly jumped on the electrification bandwagon by rolling out all-electric models, others are taking a smoother route and introducing plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in their current vehicle lineup. While adding a small battery and an electric motor might seem like a minor tweak, it can make a world of difference, especially when it comes to fuel economy. 

For folks who want to cut down on their fuel costs, a PHEV can be a very smart choice. These cars pretty much give you the best of both worlds: you can use electric power for short trips and switch to the gas engine for longer drives. But with so many options in the market, picking the longest-range plug-in hybrid can become a real head-scratcher. To find the perfect long-range plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, it’s important to understand what each option offers based on your specific requirements.

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BMW 530e

What’s hot?

  • Comfortable passenger seating 
  • Tons of powertrain options

What’s not?

  • Rivals provide much more luxurious interiors
  • Optional packages (with desirable features) can burn a hole in your pocket

The BMW 5 series has always set benchmarks that people still use to compare with newer executive sports sedans. The 530e plug-in hybrid pairs the same exquisite powertrain offerings with an electric motor providing an all-electric range of 62 miles in WLTP tests or roughly 50 miles in EPA tests.

The recently unveiled 530e has a total power output of 299 horsepower, 11 more than the last-gen 530e, and an impressive 332 pound-feet of torque, up by 22. Knowing BMW’s strong performance, that should translate to more than adequate acceleration numbers. The 530e also benefits from the tons of upgrade packages offered by BMW and can be customized to make it your unique car.  

Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid

What’s hot?

  • Comfortable seating
  • Plenty of cargo space

What’s not?

  • No all-wheel-drive option
  • Slower acceleration and handling could be better

The Ford Escape PHEV is the only front-wheel drive SUV from this list of the longest-range plug-in hybrid cars. This hampers performance in poor weather but improves fuel efficiency and all-electric driving range by quite a lot. So, if you don’t plan on taking this off the tarmac, you won’t miss the AWD.

The Ford Escape has an all-electric range of a respectable 37 miles on a single charge. The Escape has a 2.5L four-cylinder engine combined with a 14.4 kWh battery pack powering the electric motor to produce a total of 210 horsepower. 

Karma Revero

What’s hot?

  • Luxurious and exclusive design
  • Blisteringly fast acceleration

What’s not?

  • Tight cabin space and almost nil cargo space
  • Engine noise and vibration

The Karma Revero (formerly Karma GS-6 and Fisker Karma) is the fastest accelerating car from the current pool of long-range PHEVs. It is a sleek-looking sports sedan that’s essentially the PHEV version of its current full-size sedan and is quite exclusive in terms of price and availability. It gives aggressive styling along with a massive 536 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque from its BMW turbo three-banger powertrain (older versions had a GM EcoTec four-cylinder). To top it off, it offers a substantial 61-mile all-electric range.  

It is difficult to recommend this car to families, however, as the seating is quite cramped up at the back, and the ride quality could do with more comfort. Think of it as more of a sports sedan for that one eclectic buyer and maybe a couple of passengers every so often.

Land Rover Range Rover PHEV

What’s hot?

  • Practical and luxurious
  • Comfortable and refined

What’s not?

  • It’s a heavyweight
  • Mediocre cargo space

Big, bold, and now able to help the rich skirt past taxes when driving through the heart of London. The Range Rover PHEV is a complete package from the pool of long-range plug-in hybrids currently available. It is quite capable in off-road conditions and provides a great experience to the driver and the passengers. 

This posh and elegant utilitarian can travel up to 51 miles on a single charge in the all-electric mode, which is quite impressive for such a hulking thing. It also produces a combined power of an impressive 400 horsepower with a maximum torque of 472 pound-feet. 

Toyota RAV4 Prime

What’s hot?

  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Generous cargo and passenger space

What’s not?

  • Handling capability doesn’t match its speed
  • Longer than average braking distance

The Toyota RAV4 Prime unfortunately goes unnoticed due to its cousin, the Prius Prime, which is a shame given the RAV4’s practicality and impressive performance. The RAV4 prime is comparatively bigger and gives it a longer range of 42 miles. This car easily covers most daily commutes before actually engaging the internal combustion engine. 

The combined power the 2.5-liter four-banger engine produces, along with the electric motor, is a healthy 302 horsepower and a combined torque of 288 pound-feet, enabling hot hatch and entry-level sports car-rivaling performance numbers. Toyotas are generally known to be reliable machines, and the same goes for this PHEV setup. 

Lexus NX 450H+

What’s hot?

  • Best safety and reliability scores according to IIHS & JD Power ratings.
  • Impressive tech list for the standard model

What’s not?

  • Sub-par handling
  • Lesser back seat space

The Lexus NX 450H+ is another SUV in the list of long-range PHEV cars with an all-electric range of 37 miles. It has a motor on each of the axles, which enables the driver to have an all-wheel drive system. The NX 450H+ has a combined power of 304 horsepower and can do 0 to 60 mph in a quick 5.9 seconds – all this while also maintaining an efficiency of 36 mpg and a grand total range of 550 miles. Talk about a great pick for interstate cruising.

Toyota Prius Prime

What’s hot? 

  • Balanced ride and handling
  • Comfortable front seats

What’s not?

  • Slower acceleration
  • Limited rear headroom 

The latest iteration of the Toyota Prius is the perhaps best design of its lifecycle. This is not the only change, as the Prius now has a much more capable electric motor paired with an equally capable gasoline engine. It is quite impressive to see that the model that popularized PHEVs is still alive and well. 

The Toyota Prius Prime has an all-electric range of 46 miles. The Prius Prime has almost doubled its combined power output to 220 horsepower, whereas the electric motor can produce 161 horsepower on its own, which was more than the last Prius Prime did in total.

Volvo S60 Recharge

What’s hot?

  • Fresh, mature, and sporty design
  • Superb fit and finish of the interior

What’s not?

  • The design could be a hit-or-miss if you like ’em flashy
  • Kind of expensive

The Volvo S60 Recharge is the most efficient offering by Volvo. And we can’t not talk about safety when it comes to Volvos, so here’s a fun fact about the S60 Recharge – the 2022 model was IIHS’s top safety pick of the year in the mid-size luxury sedan category.  

It has an impressive all-electric range of 41 miles, considering the amount of power produced by this car. The S60 recharge produces 455 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque combined while retaining an impressive 69 MPGe rating. 

Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid

What’s hot?

  • Futuristic looks help redefine the Korean brand’s image
  • Spacious and practical interior

What’s not?

  • Dull base engine
  • Its handling leaves room for improvement

The Hyundai Tucson is one of the Korean manufacturer’s most unnoticed offerings, so to offer a PHEV version for it seems like a good decision. The Tucson PHEV knocks out most of its long-range PHEV competitors thanks to its peppier handling and commuter-friendly behavior.  

The Tucson has a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-banger bolstered by a 13.8 kWh battery, which produces a combined total of 261 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. This is sent to all four wheels and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

BMW X5 xDrive50e

What’s hot?

  • Comfortable ride
  • Well-balanced handling with plenty of grip

What’s not?

  • Not a connected drive like BMWs of old
  • Extra charges for driver assists is highly controversial

The BMW X5 xDrive50e has competitors from almost every brand in the market as it falls in the mid-size luxury SUV segment. The car, however, stands out in the segment thanks to its perfect mix of power, performance, and utility. It has loads of features and dozens of personalization options to make it your unique car. The X5 xDrive50e has an all-electric range of 40 miles.

The xDrive50e has a total power of 483 horsepower and has a torque of 516 pound-feet. The electric motors here are paired with a turbocharged straight-six engine. 

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4 Series goes hybrid, M4 adds power, and Z4 M40i gets a six-speed manual in 2025 BMW lineup

In a flurry of late-afternoon press releases, BMW announced updates to its product line for 2025. The automaker introduced refreshed 4 Series and M4 Coupes, as well as a new Z4 M40i. Here’s a quick look at the new vehicles BMW announced.

BMW adopted mild-hybrid tech for the new 4 Series, updating its four- and six-cylinder engine options. The turbocharged inline-six with 48-volt mild-hybrid power delivers 386 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, while the four-cylinder with mild-hybrid produces 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The car also got styling updates, a revised interior, and BMW’s latest iDrive version 8.5.

Image: BMW

The hotter M4 got more power, at least in the range-topping Competition models. The mainstream M4 delivers 473 horsepower, and the M4 Comp is up to 503 horsepower (523 with all-wheel drive). BMW offers a six-speed manual in the regular coupe, but the Comp is limited to an eight-speed automatic transmission. 

Though it’s increasingly rare to find any new cars equipped with a stick shift and a third pedal, the 2025 Z4 M40i comes as a six-speed manual for the first time. That transmission is mated to a 382-horsepower turbocharged inline-six, sending the car from 0-60 mph in a respectable 4.2 seconds. The M40i model also gets upgraded suspension, exclusive wheels, and unique interior trim. 

Image: BMW

Pricing for the 4 Series Coupe starts at $50,700 before the $995 destination charge. The top M440i xDrive Convertible starts at $74,250. The M4 starts at $79,100 for the entry-level Coupe, while stepping up to the M4 Competition xDrive Convertible pushes the price to $95,300. Adding the six-speed manual package to the Z4 M40i bumps the price by $3,500. BMW will start sending all three cars to dealers’ lots in March 2024.

In the meantime, older model year M4, Z4 M40i, and “regular” 4 Series prices will only continue to decline on the used market. As auto industry expert Ross Litman said on a recent episode of Acceleramota’s Car Meet podcast (available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify), 60% of luxury cars on the road are leased. Enthusiasts interested in modifying their BMWs might consider buying used rather than financing a vehicle almost certain to lose value at a disproportionate rate.

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3 2024 Kia Niro compact crossovers on a mountain ledge overlooking the clouds
Buying GuidesFeatures

Here are the most fuel-efficient vehicles of 2024

Ta-da! A buyer’s guide for what many of you really care about in 2024: getting the most out of your vehicle for less. How about the most fuel-efficient cars, eh?

Vehicle range and fuel economy play a major role in owners’ lives everywhere. From how much money we spend on gasoline or charging to how often we have to make time to refuel and where MPG and MPGe are significant stat, many look at them when it comes to their vehicle purchasing decision.

Consumers have known traditional gasoline-powered engines for years, and for many, they are still within our comfort zone. While they may not offer the same fuel economy as electric vehicles or hybrids, we get to skip out on the range anxiety and charging waits. No matter what type of vehicle you prefer, here are the most fuel-efficient vehicles of 2024 across each segment.

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The gas-only corner!

2024 Mitsubishi Mirage

MPG: 39 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • With a starting price of just under $17,000, this is one of the most affordable new cars on the market
  • Base model comes equipped with all of the standard safety and tech features you’d expect from a new 2024 model

What’s not?

  • Painfully underpowered, offering less than 100 not-so-buff ponies
  • An oversimplified interior looks modestly dated, which isn’t bad if you’re not looking for something with a lot of tech or luxury

The Mitsubishi Mirage hasn’t changed much over the years, sticking to its simple design and putting affordability first. With a modest entry price and a record of reliability, this 2024 Mirage is a great option for many buyers looking to get the most out of a new car warranty without breaking the bank.

2024 Honda Civic

MPG: 37 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • Trim levels and body style options give buyers a variety of choices, but overall, body lines look sporty and modern
  • Interior cabin space and cargo capacity exceed expectations

What’s not?

  • Road noise is bothersome inside the vehicle
  • There have been no noticeable changes since the 2023 model year, meaning the only additional benefit is a newer warranty

The Honda Civic is a tried and true car for many consumers, with a long history of reliability that gives buyers comfort and confidence, and the 2024 model year is no different. If you’re looking for a car that kind of does it all, this sedan is probably at the top of your list, melding together some sporty acceleration and handling with comfort, space, and tech as one of the most affordable cars on the market with a starting price of $23,950.

2024 Hyundai Elantra

MPG: 37 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • Above-average standard features
  • Refreshed styling to the front and rear bumpers make this sedan look more aggressive and modern

What’s not?

  • Unenthusiastic acceleration with the base model and handling could be better
  • Interior materials look and feel cheap with lots of plastic

The newly updated Hyundai Elantra looks better than ever while still providing buyers with top-notch fuel economy. As an overall package, the Elantra is one of the best compact sedans on the market today, with a starting price of $21,625. It boasts a surprising amount of standard safety and tech features for such a modest purchase price, and if the acceleration and handling are a concern for drivers this top trim level, the N Line, which provides better handling and more responsive throttle, is also available with only a slight increase in price to $28,465.

Cough, don’t forget about Elantra N if you’re really feeling frisky.

The hybrid corner!

2024 Toyota Prius

MPG: 57 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • New updates leave the Prius’s ugly duckling status in the past for what has been its best design yet
  • Strong record of reliability

What’s not?

  • With no changes to the 2024 model from the previous year, the only additional benefit of buying new is a fresher warranty and lower mileage
  • Sleeker roof lines reduce rear visibility, rear head room, and cargo

The Toyota Prius has a bad rap for being frumpy and underpowered, but it has been a favorite among consumers for years, regardless. Just ask one of our editors who tested one. The latest generation of the Prius ups the ante with better styling, newer tech, and features that buyers want, combined with years of production that have proved the car to be reliable — a great selling point for those concerned with high-voltage battery systems and hybrid vehicle ownership. The 2024 Toyota Prius dips its tires into the world of gasoline and electric for a modest entry price and does a great job of bridging the gap for consumers.

2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid

MPG: 54 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • As expected, better fuel economy over the standard gasoline model
  • Updated designs and options increase overall appearance and quality

What’s not?

  • The drivetrain achieves better fuel economy by sacrificing acceleration
  • Only available with two trim level options

Notable mention for hitting this list twice as a gasoline-only and hybrid vehicle, the 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid doesn’t differ much from the ICE version of this model. If you’ve been considering the Elantra, the hybrid options offer everything that the standard model does and more, with some major updates from safety features like the rear side airbags and haptic feedback for driver’s assists to cosmetic options like exterior and interior colors.

2024 Kia Niro Hybrid

MPG: 53 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • Unique design is modern with a distinct front end and day-running lights
  • Ample space for cargo and passengers without the mass and road presence of a large SUV

What’s not?

  • The base model hybrid is noticeably slower and offers underwhelming power
  • All-wheel drive is not available

Eat your heart out, Corolla Cross Hybrid. The 2024 Kia Niro Hybrid is a great solution for buyers who are looking to maximize their fuel economy without minimizing their space. As a compact crossover, the Niro Hybrid offers an impressive amount of interior space for both cargo and passengers, making it the perfect option for families or city dwellers.

The EV corner!

2024 Hyundai IONIQ 6

MPGe: 140 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • Modern designs inside and out give the car a sleek appearance and high-tech feel
  • As a small, well-balanced sedan, the IONIQ 6 offers nimble handling and engaging acceleration

What’s not?

  • The sleek roofline gives the car a sporty appearance but minimizes rear head space and trunk space as a result
  • Best range only on RWD models

The Hyundai IONIQ 6 is a newer car on the scene, combining a surprising amount of luxury and technology for a brand-new EV starting at $37,500. The additional option of all-wheel drive gives this car an additional edge over competitors, but the standard model’s rear-wheel drive train offers a surprisingly engaging driving experience for a sedan.

2024 BMW i4

MPGe: 120 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • Besides the blue trim, this sedan otherwise looks like a regular gasoline-powered engine which may be attractive to some buyers
  • Same styling and quality consumers expect from BMW for a modestly priced luxury EV

What’s not?

  • While the acceleration performance of the i4 is competitive, the steering and handling are reportedly lackluster
  • The sportier M option enhances performance but at a steep sacrifice to range

The 2024 BMW i4 is unrecognizable as an electric vehicle which may be enticing to buyers who want the EV experience without the looks. Its performance and handling rival more popular cars from the brand, including the BMW M3, living up to the expectations set by the brand in previous years.

2024 Lucid Air Pure AWD

MPGe: 137 miles combined city/highway

What’s hot?

  • Interior oozes luxury and high-end vibes with a variety of textiles
  • Smooth driving experience with minimal road noise

What’s not?

  • By far the most expensive vehicle option on this list, with a starting price of $82,400
  • Kind of looks like a bar of soap, the body lines of this EV don’t have much to offer

The Lucid Air Pure is a true luxury car, and its price reflects it. Minimalistic styling inside and out is countered by a fine selection of materials and designs that make the Lucid unlike anything else on the market. Because this brand is also lesser known it gets bonus points for being uncommon.

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2023 Toyota Prius XLE
New Car Reviews

2023 Toyota Prius XLE review: a handsome hybrid that’s shockingly fun to drive

“YOU DRIVE A TOYOTA PRIUS!? HA, WHAT A LOSER,” exclaims everyone who watched a little too much Top Gear in 2005. But here you stand, grown and matured, ready to tackle the 9-to-5. And it is you who shall have the last laugh. Or will you?

The 2023 Toyota Prius XLE is indeed as pedestrian as econoboxes come and always will be. The shape. The stigma. The acceleration. You can get a Toyota Prius in almost any color, but its personality was always never more than beige. It has never garnered much respect over the years despite all it has done over the years to polish its image and be the best damn everyday economy car money can buy, but no amount of gas mileage or interior space was enough. Not for enthusiasts nor for Dirty Mike and The Boys. But those who have welcomed it into their hearts and homes love it for a reason. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a new Prius.

So here we are. The Toyota Prius has gradually been honing its skills and changed threads every few years to get with the times to divisive reception, but this new one? Oh-ho, this new Prius. Toyota may have just struck gold thanks to some stints at the gym and a trip to its tailor, and now it’s here to ask the haters who are laughing now.

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2023 Toyota Prius XLE
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Author’s Note: This review was made possible thanks to Turo and the generous owner, who agreed to allow us to rent this vehicle for review purposes. Check out the app or site to see what rides are available in your area! 

Prius price and specs

In a world of astronomical price increases and rampant inflation, the Prius remains grounded in the ever-shrinking realm of affordability. This time, it does so with an extensive list of standard features and worthwhile upgrades over the outgoing generation, not least of which is a significantly more powerful hybrid powertrain with a larger two-liter gasoline engine and a heap of standard driving safety assists. Our vehicle was a 2023 model from Turo, but the equivalent 2024 XLE bases at  $31,095. 

Base price (2024):$31,095
As-tested price (2024):$33,925
Engine:2.0-liter inline-four + 2 AC electric motors
Drivetrain:front-wheel drive
Power:194 horsepower
Torque:139 pound-feet (engine only, total system not rated)
Redline:N/A (no tachometer!)
Weight:approx. 3,200 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:7.1 seconds
¼-mile:15.5 seconds @ 92 mph
MPG:52 city,  52 highway, 52 combined
Observed MPG:50.3 mpg
Fuel Capacity:11.3 gallons

(Author’s Note: Performance numbers reflected in Car and Driver’s review from December 2022)

Prius exterior design

Glow-up of the century

Don’t deny it. The new Prius is hot! Still an egg, yes. But it’s a smoking pistol compared to the car it replaced and the cars it rivals. More interesting than a Corolla. More understated than an Elantra. Yet, it’s sleeker and more aerodynamic than them all. Less goofy cues and proportions than an Ioniq Hybrid. Gone are the angular Gundam slashes that adorned the awkwardly shaped body of the last Prius, and in its place are smooth lines, soft creases, and a seemingly elongated nose complementing the short decklid. 

The rear lights are comprised of a single light bar, while the front angular C-shaped headlights are perhaps the sharpest lines on the Prius and arguably its most attractive feature. Further enhancing the sporty appeal of Toyota’s reborn hybrid hatchback is an upward sweeping side skirt that screams tuner car body kit.

2023 Toyota Prius XLE
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

A slippery little snake

Of course, the still-eggy silhouette of the Toyota Prius will forever be a staple of its design and an integral key to its efficiency, and the current generation rocks more than just a prettier face. 

Smoothened lines, grill shutters, and rounded edges contribute to the 0.29 drag coefficient or 0.27 with the lower trim levels’ smoother wheels, which are actually up from the previous car’s slipperier 0.24. This is likely due to the new Prius’ newfound inch of extra width and higher-trim wheel that value style over outright economy.

What’s hot?– The same fuel miser it always was
– Actually quick and dynamic-ish!?
– As maneuverable as even smaller cars
– Rapid-fire touchscreen response
– Abundance of storage nooks in the cabin
– Audio system engineer deserves head pats

Prius pricing breakdown

Prius pricing for current 2024 models starts as low as $27,650 for a stripper LE and rockets as high as nearly $43,000 for a loaded Prime plug-in XSE Premium. A 2024 equivalent for our non-plug-in XLE loaner will ring in towards the lower end of the spectrum, with the dual moonroofs and enlarged 12.3-inch touchscreen bringing the total to roughly $34,000 before taxes and fees. Other add-ons like a digital key, as is a smorgasbord of $300 to $450 carpet and all-weather floor mat packages, are available. Our XLE tester came standard with dual-zone climate and heated seats. However, higher trims offer heated rear seats and digital rearview mirrors as part of smaller options packages priced at a few hundred dollars. Solar charging is available on Prime plug-ins as part of its exclusive option packages, and Toyota’s AWD-e is available on standard Prius hybrids for $1,400. 

Not too bad, given how inflation has affected other vehicles far more significantly. Pricing is on par with what a Prius Four Touring cost in 2016, albeit with stronger performance, similar efficiency, and a much more attractive look inside and out. 

Prius interior and tech

As tech-savvy as always

Our Prius XLE came equipped with a lovably clear and ultra-fast-responding 12.3-inch touchscreen that handled nearly everything from stereo controls to vehicle settings, although a physical volume knob and power button are appreciated. I just wish it wasn’t on the damn passenger side. Seriously, why there? I’m right here, not there. At least the screen is big, bright, and quick to respond.

Besides a bit of confusion digging through the menus to set up CarPlay, the screen worked flawlessly. Bluetooth connection was quick to sort itself out on every start-up, and while wireless CarPlay does drain your battery, it’s nowhere near as taxing as other cars I’ve experienced. And if your battery is still a concern, the wireless charger is there to come in clutch with spring-loaded grips to keep your phone from flopping around over bumps. And it actually charges, too, unlike older Toyota wireless chargers where I found they just kept your phone held at a certain charge. 

Toyota’s Safety Sense systems are also standard, with blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise with lane-centering, and even a mild brake assist that leans into your hybrid system’s brake regen to help you slow down when it detects stopped traffic in the distance. It won’t fully stop and will flash a warning if you get too close, but it’s a nice little helper around town.

2023 Toyota Prius XLE
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Faux luxury

And to think all of this comes wrapped up in a package that’s just as attractive as the outside. Dare I say you could probably slap on some wood paneling here and call it a new Lexus CT200h? It’s cozy and modern, like an overpriced luxury apartment.

Regardless of screen size, it’s saddled atop the dash right in the peripherals of the driver, as is the digital gauge cluster, which sits high but rather far down the long dashboard. And I mean a long dashboard (see gallery below). They are brilliantly lit and wonderfully crisp, like a 4K TV, and even the animation of sliding between screens and menus appears to be in 60 FPS, evoking thoughts of cars that cost multiples more. Even some Mercedes products don’t have screens this nice. But for those who admonish the overuse of screens, the hard buttons for the climate controls are a nice complement. There’s also no shortage of storage cubbies throughout the cabin, including the cheeky #HIDDENCOMPARTMENT bin beneath the climate controls. Clever, aside from the very obvious latch to open it.

The glass roof doesn’t open, but it does let an appreciable amount of light in for an even airier feel for the already-expansive greenhouse. Best of all, it’s tinted well enough that it blocks heat and UV quite well. Of course, if it’s still not enough, roll-up shades are stored in the center bar dividing the glass panels. The dashboard lightbar above the climate controls and soft white LED interior lighting are a fun touch for adding a splash of color and modernity to this frugal front-driver, and the optional gray interior would spur that theme further. I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone. It’s perhaps a little too youthful and videogamey in here. But it sure is nice to decompress after a long day of complaining on social media and shopping at Trader Joe’s. 

2023 Toyota Prius XLE
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Yep, the new Prius is still an NPC car

A coddling egg

But you certainly won’t complain about how the new Prius goes about its daily business. Ever heard jokes about NPC (non-playable character) cars? The new Prius is the definitive NPC car, and I mean that in the most positive and inoffensive manner possible. This car is a lovely and unbothersome place to eat up the many miles loaded into that minuscule gas tank. Like, damn near 600 miles out of 11.3 gallons, not including the full-EV stints you may accomplish. I hope you can remember what side the tank is on.

The seats are reasonably plush and supportive for a budget-minded car, and the expanses of glass yield impressive visibility everywhere but the rear quarter views. Back there, thick pillars and a lack of sizable quarter glass force you to rely more on the blind-spot monitor, which softly beeps when it detects you are signaling into a pesky hidden car.

2023 Toyota Prius XLE
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Another nitpick inside would be that the glass roof impedes headroom, forcing my six-foot-plus friend to readjust his seating position. The spare tire kit protrudes upward into the hatch space, wiping away what could be feet of space had it not been for the annoyingly intrusive styrofoam tray of just-in-case-the-universe-hates-you tire sealant. Additionally, the digital gauges, while legible, are a tad small and in an awkward place far along the dashboard, which means some drivers who like their steering wheels a bit high, like me, may have their view partially obstructed. There’s always a catch with modern car interiors, isn’t there? At least everything else is as comfortable and ergonomic as can be for the price point.

The engine is a little droney, as Priuses have always been, but I’m happy to report it’s easy to drown out with the standard eight-speaker stereo that genuinely bumps when cranked up without sounding cheap or tinny. What an appropriate stereo to blast Eurobeat out of if Toyota didn’t wire it to the most inappropriate car for Eurobeat. I imagine the optional JBL system must be a certified banger. And for such a small cabin, there’s an abundance of chargers, including the wireless charger, ports beneath the climate controls, and USB-C ports for the rear occupants mounted on the otherwise minimal center console stand. Because charging matters more to your rear occupants than air conditioning. 

Drives as easily as it looks

Once you’re off, it’s immediately apparent how quick and light the steering is, meaning parking lot maneuvers are brainless. The Prius further buffs its maneuverability with a tight turning radius spanning parking spaces wide. Anyone who feels like pushing that turning circle will get an audible slap on the wrist from the handy (and perhaps a bit too overreactive) front parking sensors.

As for the highways, the Prius eats interstates like its GR86 stablemate devours corners. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a car that hasn’t jittered over expansion joints or wandered at the site of ruts. This thing just tracks straight and glides over asphalt, its newfound horsepower making short work of passes where the old car would wheeze its way to barely inch up. Hold it at 75 mph on a flat stretch of road, and you’re humming along in full electric-only mode for as long as the battery says it can.

Its 587-mile cruising range can stretch beyond that if you can hold it in electric-only driving. Nowadays, I’m starting to grow weary of press car stints in vehicles that need a fill-up at least once a day. With the Prius, 260 miles of driving over three days in my care barely knocked the fuel gauge down to below half. Note that lower-trim Priuses feature a more economical and aerodynamic wheel-and-tire package that delivers a meaningful boost in mpg, ensuring easily attainable 600-mile ranges all day long. Huzzah!

The B mode on the shifter is not brake regen like I previously thought but actually a slight engine braking mode to rely less on regen when the battery is fully charged. Alternatively, the aforementioned mild brake assist leans into the regen when the car detects stopped traffic head, which is handy for urbanites who wish to have every ounce of juice available. An actual EV mode exists, but like prior Prius models, it’s solely for parking lot speeds and deactivates upon too much throttle input or when exceeding 25 mph. See Prius Prime for all your I-don’t-want-an-electric-car-copium. 

But Sport mode, however…

How the hypermiler got hyper-cool

Oh yeah. In case it wasn’t already clear, the new Prius is fun. And kind of fast? I think. Nah, it is. This is a quick car with a competent chassis that just so happens to get over 50 mpg everywhere it goes when you’re not making it groan and howl like a garbage disposal. Thanks for that, CVT. But other than the droney engine noise, this thing is fun. Get that. A cool Prius? I didn’t think I’d ever see the day.

So about Sport mode. The new Prius has it. And it sure is something.

2023 Toyota Prius XLE
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

With Sport mode, throttle response and battery power ramp up and show you how far of a leap that 194 horsepower, two-liter hybrid powertrain is over the outgoing car’s measly 121 horsepower. Slam the throttle, and the electric powertrain whirs as the engine groans, their combined power thrusting you to 60 mph not far off the likes of the Fiat 500 Abarth, Ford Fiesta ST, Mk6 Golf GTI, or Scion FR-S/Toyota 86. This thing scoots! Or at least it scoots enough to piss off traction control from a stop. Don’t ask me how I know, wink, wink. But you won’t be pulling such antics in the last-generation car. 

Stoplight sprints are no longer a chore, and highway on-ramps are more of a pleasure than an obstacle, not only due to the power but also the Prius’ revamped chassis and steering that no longer wallow at the sight of a one-degree bend. Just as the Prius is surefooted and stable on interstate escapades, it’s a (kind of) playful and competent city runabout. No, it’s not a hot hatch. It’s not even lukewarm or even room temperature. It’s too numb for that, and the CVT is, well, a CVT. Not that the average Prius buyer cares. But finally, at long last, the Prius not only looks good but drives well enough, too. This is a likable driving experience.

What’s not?– Groany engine noises
– Tire repair kit interferes with trunk space
– Glass roof may hinder taller occupants
– Digital gauge cluster is small and in a stupid place
– Lower trims get more efficient wheel-tire packages
– Faces formidable competition from plug-ins, crossovers, and full EVs

The near-perfect daily driver for almost anyone 

Never thought I’d say this. But the Toyota Prius? Pretty damn cool nowadays. Unfortunately for Toyota, Dirty Mike’s posse has more options than ever. EVs and plug-ins are edging closer and closer to mainstream relevancy each day, with advancements bringing greater range, more practicality, and improved infrastructure, even if it’s marginal gains. Rivals like the Honda Insight and Hyundai Ioniq are also highly compelling choices from rapidly improving and maturing companies, meaning the Prius doesn’t stand alone as the king of this hill anymore.

But even so, the Prius still makes a case for itself with its own suite of upgrades at a good value that ensures newcomers and veteran fans alike will find something worthwhile. I certainly have. It’s loaded with tech, all of which works quite well. The improved performance is a hoot for getting errands knocked out quicker at the Albertson’s Grand Prix and for turning the tides of rush hour death matches in your favor. And it does it all while still getting over 50 miles to the freaking gallon. Five-zero! 

2023 Toyota Prius XLE
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

The enthusiast who may snag one as a daily will greatly appreciate the improved dynamics and not paying a gazillion-bajillion dollars at the pump, while the average consumer will walk away from every commute unoffended by the maturity and composure the Prius now carries in spades. Those two attributes in tandem definitely make for a great car and a stellar consumer product. So who’s laughing now, Clarkson?

Now let’s urge Toyota to put a GR version into production.

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