drivetime logo Yo Vinnie! Waddya Drivin This Week? 2013 Toyota Prius Plug In Hybrid

“Yo Vinnie! Waddya Drivin’ This Week?” is a first look/first impression of the review vehicle I am driving this week for a future “Drivetime Road Test” auto review.

This week we go green with Toyota’s 2013 Prius Plug-In Hybrid sedan.

Let’s face it, the Prius is the badge of honor of the green car crowd. Clearly the most popular and the most accessible of the hybrids, Toyota has set the standard for gas/electric vehicles expanding the Prius line out to bigger and smaller models.

In the Prius Plug-In, Toyota steps up their game delivering a car that allows you to drive a certain distance, 15 miles or so, on all-electric power. In the standard Prius, once your electric power ran out, you would have to drive the car on the gas engine to recharge it. With the plug in you can go a distance electric-only then plug the car in, wait for it to recharge, and be on your merry way. Quick, easy and a lot less pollution dumped into the air.

What makes the Plug-In an even better idea is the growing number of Charging Stations that are popping up.  As you can see in the picture, while I was doing my shopping at the Giant Eagle Market Place at Settlers Ridge the Prius was getting recharged at the complimentary charging station in the parking lot. Back home under electric power, using no gas on the 9 mile trip.

The Plug-In uses a larger capacity lithium ion battery than the standard nickel-metal hydrid power pack that comes in the non-plug-in.

The Prius so far has been a great city car. It is surprisingly quiet even when running on the gas engine. Acceleration is not dragster like, but it will keep up with traffic and burst out on to the freeway just fine when you need it to. One of the drawbacks of the Prius is that it feels quite disconnected from the road. If the Prius is all you drive then you will probably not notice, but as someone who loves the “driving experience,” it can leave you wanting a lot more.

The Prius has a distinct style to it, tall and window-y, it gives you excellent visibility. The center dashboard is akin to looking at a video game but once mastered gives you a ton of information. Controls are for the most part on a floating center stack as well as on the steering wheel. I do wish Toyota used better materials inside. The seats feel like they are out of a taxi. The Prius does give you excellent interior room though with lots of hauling space with the rear seats folded  down. You also get Toyota’s Entune information system which provides you with a number of apps including Bing Search and Pandora.

I’ll have a better feel for long distance in the Prius after this weekend and I get it out on a day trip and will elaborate more in my full review.

Sticker price on the Prius Plug In is just under $32,000 and gets four-star ratings in overall, frontal and rollover crash tests and five stars in the side crash tests from the NHTSA.

While the Prius Plug In isn’t perfect, it seems to me that we are a long way off from the perfect green car and so cars like the PPI will serve the purpose of getting us another step up the environmental ladder while still making sure that we feel the security of the corner gas station.

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Get more reviews, news about cars and the people who drive them, interviews and tips on how to get more out of your driving experience all on Drivetime with Vinnie Richichi and Rob Pratte Saturday mornings 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA. Also listen to Vinnie on The Vinnie and Cook Show Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.