Toyota pioneered hybrid technology more than 20 years ago with the Prius, an instantly recognizable hatchback that remains popular and reliable. It also gave the world the first-ever plug-in hybrid, which combined a gas-powered engine with a powerful battery that got its power from an external charger.
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The 2015 Prius Plug-In hybrid
The Prius Plug-In’s first generation was essentially a third-generation Prius with a bigger, heavier, and more powerful battery. As such, it was slower, more expensive, and slightly more fuel efficient than its counterpart.
The 2015 Prius Plug-In’s base trim had a starting MSRP of $30,825—about $4,000 more than the 2015 Prius on which it was based. The Advanced trim started at $35,740, about $5,000 more than that year’s Prius Five, its highest trim level.
Today, a used 2015 model sells for around $20,000.
Performance and fuel economy
If you bought a 2015 Prius Plug-In, or any Prius from any year, you probably made the decision based largely on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Its 1.8L 4-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors could muster up 134 horsepower, a statistic that doesn’t likely concern Prius drivers. You don’t buy one to go fast.
More importantly, it got about 50 miles per gallon, which was about the same as the regular 2015 Prius. The main difference between the Prius Plug-In and the standard Prius was its more powerful battery. This allowed it to travel up to 11 miles on electric power alone, but only if you drove carefully—the car’s gas engine kicked in to help out if you accelerated abruptly.
If your daily commute is short and you have regular access to a charger, you could ostensibly go quite a long time without visiting a gas station. Fully charging the battery took three hours with a 120V charger and about half that time with a 240V charger.
For better or worse, the Prius’s exterior design has been immediately recognizable since its debut. Car and Driver said it resembled an “aero-tuned turtle,” which, while not intended as praise, could be much worse.
It looks, undeniably, like a Prius. You either like it or you don’t. Or you don’t care and are just in it for the gas mileage.
Interior and comfort
Priuses are generally known for being roomy, their back seats in particular—and the 2015 model is no different: Its back row has 37.6 inches of headroom and 36 inches of legroom, and the car has a total of 93.7 cubic feet of total passenger volume.
In terms of style and quality, it’s mostly unremarkable, which makes sense for the standard Prius, but is disappointing for the more expensive PHEV. Some described the interior plastic as hard and cheap, especially compared to that of other cars in its class.
The most impressive technology found in the Prius PHEV is, of course, the powertrain that allows it such impressive fuel economy. Aside from that, it’s on par with cars from that time.
Its Entune infotainment system covers the basics: Radio, Bluetooth, and a CD player. More expensive versions of Etune include mobile apps that can control parts of the car’s function from a mobile phone, which isn’t actually as convenient as it might sound.
The Advanced trim comes with Toyota Safety Connect, which includes roadside assistance and stolen vehicle tracking. Finally, adaptive cruise control and a frontal collision warning system are optional for the Advanced trim.
Trim levels and options
There were only two trims available for the 2015 Prius Plug-In: The base model and the Advanced model.
The Advanced trim, which started at$35,740, came with these additional features:
- Automatic headlights
- Faux leather upholstery
- A power driver’s seat
- Safety Connect driver-assistance technology
- 7-inch touchscreen
- 8-speaker JBL sound system
The bottom line
Plug-in hybrid technology has come a long way since 2015. The 2015 Prius Plug-In’s fuel economy is certainly impressive, but it isn’t superior enough to that of the standard 2015 Prius to justify the initial $5,000 price difference, especially given that the powertrain is just about all that sets them apart.
2015 Prius Plug-In vs. 2015 Prius
The 2015 Prius and Prius Plug-In just aren’t different enough to justify their price difference. The minimum you’d have paid for a new base level 2015 Prius Plug-in was $30,825, just $15 short of the standard Prius’s highest trim, the Prius Five—which has all the amenities of the PHEV’s top trim.
2015 Prius Plug-In vs 2015 Chevrolet Volt
The Chevrolet Voltcame out around the same time as the Prius Plug-In and was immediately one of its fiercest competitors. The 2015 model, which cost about the same as the Prius PHEV’s Advanced trim, stands out primarily for its impressive 38-mile all-electric range—almost four times that of the Prius. Its interior was slightly more elegant than that of the Prius, though it was also more cramped.
Here’s how they stack up:
Fuel economy (gas only)
Fuel economy (gas + electric)
Charging time (Level 2)
2015 Prius Plug In
2015 Chevrolet Volt
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