Wednesday, September 23, 2020
News 2020 Toyota Prius Prime vs 2020 Toyota Prius Comparison: Which One Do...

2020 Toyota Prius Prime vs 2020 Toyota Prius Comparison: Which One Do You Need?

Hybrid or plug-in hybrid? Efficient with all-wheel drive or all-electric capability? To plug or not to plug? We answer these questions.

  • The Toyota Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid meaning it has a larger battery and can function in all-electric mode

  • The Toyota Prius can’t function on electric power only, but it’s still efficient, is more affordable, and can be equipped with all-wheel drive


If you have settled on a hybrid vehicle, the 2020 Toyota Prius lineup is a safe bet. The Prius pioneered the hybrid segment in North America, after all, and despite more competition than ever it remains one of the better options on the market. It’s not only efficient, it’s also spacious, features all-wheel drive in some versions, and is poised and comfortable on the road.

That said, the 2020 Prius offers a ton of versions including the Toyota Prius Prime. Wanting a Prius is one thing, deciding which Prius is right for you can be more complicated. Hopefully this will help.

2020 Toyota Prius Prime At A Glance

What’s the difference between the 2020 Toyota Prius and the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime?

The Toyota Prius is a hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Both feature a gas engine paired with an electric motor and a battery. The difference resides in the battery which is larger in the Prius Prime. The Prius has a 2.2-kWh battery while the Prius Prime has an 8.8 kWh battery.

Toyota Prius Prime
2020 Toyota Prius Prime | Photo: Toyota

Toyota Prius
2021 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota

That essentially means that you can drive using just the electric motor in the Prius Prime, making it even more efficient. The 2020 Toyota Prius Prime offers 40 kilometres of all-electric range, or 25 miles.

In practice, that means that if the battery is fully charged and you have to drive less than 40 kilometres (25 miles) every day, you’re not using a single drop of fuel. If you have to drive 75 kilometres, you will only be using fuel for less than half of that distance.

The 2020 Toyota Prius, on the other hand, uses its electric motor to assist the gas engine and therefore reduce fuel consumption significantly, but doesn’t eliminate it like the Prius Prime does over those first 40 kilometres or 25 miles.

The Prius’ smaller battery can function independently and does provide electric power only in certain situations, but when you are driving on the road, you’re using fuel. You’re just not using a lot of it. The 2020 Prius averages 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres or 52 mpg. The Prius Prime averages 54 mpg (4.4 litres per 100 kilometres) when not running on electric power only, but when you combine the EV capabilities, you get a very impressive 133 mpge (under 2.0-litres per 100 kilometres).

2020 Toyota Prius Prime
2020 Toyota Prius Prime | Photo: Toyota

Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius Interior | Photo: Toyota

The other major difference between the Toyota Prius Prime and Prius is that you can charge the Prius Prime. As a matter of fact, you have to if you want to enjoy the Prime’s electric capability. Charging the Prius Prime takes 2.0 hours in a 240-volt outlet, and 5.5 hours in a 120-volt outlet. You can’t plug in the Prius, and you don’t need to.

Price Difference Between The 2020 Toyota Prius And The 2020 Toyota Prius Prime

The 2020 Toyota Prius Prime starts at $27,900 in the US and $32,990 in Canada. The 2020 Toyota Prius starts at $24,325 in the US and $28,550 in Canada. That said, the Prius Prime can get a generous US Federal Tax Rebate or Canadian IZEV program rebate. Depending on where you are located in North America, the Prius Prime can get incentives that will bring its price down to almost par with the regular Prius.

That said, you will want to factor the cost of the charging station for the Prius Prime. Yes you can use a traditional outlet, but you will want the faster charger.

All-Wheel Drive in the 2020 Toyota Prius 

The 2020 Toyota Prius offers the e-AWD all-wheel drive system, something the Prius Prime doesn’t offer. The Prius e-AWD starts at $29,550 in Canada and $26,345 in the US and is a very attractive option for buyers in the northern states and Canada. The impact of fuel consumption is minimal, but the benefits in winter make it almost indispensable.

Toyota Prius AWD-e
Toyota Prius AWD-e | Photo: Toyota

Which Model Would We Choose?

If we lived in California or anywhere that rarely gets a winter, we would go with the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime. The price difference is worth it and the available rebates can significantly reduce the cost of the Prime. However, for buyers living in Canada or the northern US, the possibility of getting all-wheel drive in a hybrid vehicle would be too appealing to pass up.

2020 Toyota Prius Prime
2020 Toyota Prius Prime | Photo: Toyota

2020 Toyota Prius Prime
2020 Toyota Prius Prime | Photo: Toyota

2021 Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota

2021 Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota

Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota
Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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