The 2013 Toyota Prius PHV

2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Review

The PHV pushes the Prius to the limit.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: January 20th, 2013

By making its Prius available as a plug-in hybrid, Toyota has seriously upped the ante, not to mention the sticker price, on the world's most popular hybrid vehicle. Toyota is still betting on hybrid technology as the green tech most likely to succeed, and the addition of a plug-in hybrid (PHV, in Toyotaspeak) to the Prius family seems like a logical step in the Prius' evolution.

  • On the Road

    Nobody picks a Prius for its aggressive driving abilities, since it has none. The Prius has three modes: EV, Eco, and Power. These basically control throttle sensitivity (except for EV which allows the car to run in all-electric mode), but even Power mode—which is supposed to let you feel more like you're driving a "normal" car—the Prius can only do as much as 98 horsepower is capable of doing. Still, this small power boost comes in handy when you need to merge onto freeway traffic, and the difference between Power mode and Eco mode is significant enough that it does give the illusion of real speed.

  • Interior

    The interior of the Prius PHV hasn't changed with the 2013 model, and it really didn't need to. It's a comfortable car, and even the back seat is surprisingly un-cramped for a car in this class. Storage in the car's hatch is further limited by the increased battery size, but that's a minor complaint, since that's something one would expect from a car this size.

  • Fuel Economy

    The Prius PHV's range in all-electric mode is limited, even by the standards of most EVs. You might wonder what good a 12-20 mile range would do anyone, but it's actually fine for around-town errand running and city driving, plus it drops the charge down to three hours from a standard 100v outlet. The addition of the lithium-ion battery also ups the overall milage to 50 (a number we confirmed on a 200-plus mile drive), which would have a major impact on owners' gas budgets.

  • Final Thoughts

    As the most expensive Prius on the market (our tester, which was nicely outfitted with all available features, runs to $40,000), the PHV is an expensive proposition in a segment that is already beyond the reach of the average car buyer. We still prefer the extended-range hybrid technology of the Chevy Volt, but if we were buying a Prius, this would be the only one we'd consider.

  • Specs, Features & Prices

    Engine and Transmission
    1.8-Liter 4-cylinder
    EV/ECO/POWER Modes
    98 horsepower
    105 lb.-ft. of torque
    134 hybrid system net hp (100 kW)

    Fuel Economy  
    50 mpg in hybrid mode
    90 mpge

    $32,000 (base)
    $39,525 (as tested)

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