The Toyota Prius Prime, according to Toyota, is the most efficient hybrid the automaker offers and is also the most technologically advanced Prius model it’s ever made. This is all very fine with me, except for the one glaring weakness the Prius Prime had up until these 2020 model year updates.
Yesterday, Toyota announced updates to the Prius Prime for 2020. Included in the portfolio the new features—standard Apple CarPlay, more USB ports and black interior accents—is a fifth seat! Yes, the Prius Prime finally has five seats now.
This might not seem like a huge deal to you, as most cars with four doors have five seats. But it wasn’t always this way with the Prius Prime. See, Prius Primes before the 2020 versions all had four seats, not five. Where the middle back seat would have been were two cupholders instead—certainly no place for a person.
I guess you sort of could cram someone back there for very short trips, but it doesn’t look comfortable and there is no seatbelt for them. Very unsafe!
The reason for this was efficiency, supposedly. While reporting rumors back in 2016 that an alleged five-seat Prius Prime was coming at some point, Autoblog spoke with Toyota exec Nathan Kokes and learned that:
... giving the Prime only four seats was important for the car’s overall efficiency. If the rear were to seat three across, the car would need to have more reinforcing material and its 3.3-kW charger would need to be moved.
Sure, but I’d say that having five seats in a Prius would also be pretty important to consumers. What is the point of a fuel-efficient car that also can’t maximize the number of occupants inside? How are you supposed to MAXIMIZE the EFFICIENCY of your CARPOOLING??
Clearly, the fifth seat was enough of a concern from buyers because Toyota found a way to add it in. Do not be fooled, this is an admittance of weakness. The great and mighty Toyota has been felled by the complaints of people who just need that shit middle seat.
Nice job, everyone. We won!
Suggest MSRP for the Prius Prime LE trim is $27,600, $29,500 for the XLE and $33,500 for the Limited.