The Prius made a comeback Wednesday in the form of Toyota's new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid at this year's New York Auto Show.
The Japanese automaker unveiled the new green car by driving it through white balloons and an aisle between hundreds of journalists, and its debut is a sign of the company's dedication to its Prius lineup despite the current decline in gas prices. The debut comes two years after Toyota stopped production for its previous Prius Prime plug-in hybrid model.
The 2017 Prius Prime comes with 120 or more MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), which is the highest MPGe rating for any plug-in hybrid and a 26 percent improvement over the previous version. Other features include a 22-mile electric range, better drivability, an 8.8 kilowatt battery pack and Toyota's first dual motor generator drive system.
Toyota noted that the hybrid can also drive at speeds of up to 84 miles per hour without leaving EV mode.
"With the Prius Prime's 22 miles of electric range, over 50% of Americans can get to work and back home without using a drop of gas, and for those who can charge at work, that number jumps to 80%," said Bill Fay, Toyota's group vice president. "And for those with longer commutes, they can rely on the most fuel efficient hybrid system in the industry."
The Prius Prime takes about 5.5 hours to recharge, and Toyota say that the car can travel for more than 600 miles on a single charge and a full 11.3-gallon tank and that more than 50 percent of Americans can get to work and back home with the car without using gasoline.
The new plug-in hybrid wasn't the only vehicle that Toyota showed off at the New York Auto Show, as the event also saw the unveiling of its Highlander mid-size SUV, which boasts a more aggressive front grille and new engine, as well as its new 86 sports car.
The 2017 Prius Prime will have several other EVs to contend with when it becomes available to drivers, such as General Motors' Chevrolet Bolt, which will enter production at the end of the year, Ford's C-Max and Fusion, and Hyundai's 2016 Sonata PHEV.