Travelers who worry about their carbon footprint can breathe easier – literally – with a Prius Prime. The sedan gets 25 miles on an electric charge, and over 60 miles per gallon with the gas engine. We drove from Brooklyn to Washington, DC, with a detour in Pennsylvania, on a couple of charges and about $6 in gas. Going green is not only a no-brainer, it saves you money!
Green travel doesn’t have to be punishing. We drove a 2017 Toyota Prius Prime for a week and it was extremely comfortable. Though it is far from luxurious – we drove a huge Lexus SUV the previous weekend, with leather seats and every possible extra – it still had amenities like heated seats (it’s more eco-friendly to heat just the driver’s seat if there’s only one person in the car) and a fabulous navigation system. Plus with Earth Day coming, we felt in tune with eco consciousness.
Green Travel Saves the Environment, and Your Wallet
Perks of the Prius Prime
At the Kimpton Hotel where we stayed in Washington, DC, we saved $7 on parking with the electric car. Not only that, the valet charged the car for us. Other Kimpton hotels in DC actually offer free parking for electric vehicles.
And at the Whole Foods near my house, electric car drivers get reserved spots closer to the store. There is also free charging, but twice during the week I had the car, the charging stations were being used. Of course, this is Brooklyn, where driving an EV is practically a badge of honor.
We drove to my sister’s house, under construction, from her old house and went there and back purely on electric power. We had only four people going to look at the construction site, a good thing since the Prius Prime only seats four. The back seat has an immobile cup holder / armrest. The battery eats up that potential third seat in the second row. But the battery doesn’t take away too much trunk space. We easily fit two large suitcases in the trunk, along with a few goodies for our daughter.
Lexus vs Prius Prime
I won’t kid you, it was very comfortable driving that Lexus around. But we used it to visit our oldest daughter, in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was almost embarrassing driving this huge luxury SUV around the eco-friendly city, especially when our friends showed up in with their Prius.
But there was also plenty to love about the electric car. It has a wireless charging pad and a 11.6 inch infotainment screen. The back up camera, audio system and climate control were easy to use and the navigation system was quite impressive. My husband always complains about nav systems that give unclear directions, but the superb Toyota system gives a comforting ding when you have a turn; it is really impossible to make a mistake.
The higher trim models have heated steering wheels, head up display and parking assist.
The touchscreen has a display of battery power and fuel usage, and you can try to ‘beat’ your last trip by charging up the battery whenever possible. This may not be possible if you live in New York City, but it’s very easy in the suburbs. The car gets a full battery charge in five and a half hours. My sister, who drives 20 miles to work each day, could charge the car overnight, drive to work and charge the car there, then drive home – all on electric power. And if you have a 240V charging station, it takes just two hours and 10 minutes.
But even if you have to use the gas engine, you still get over 60 miles per gallon! We had planned our trip to Washington, DC, to see the cherry blossoms, but global warming changes led to extremely early blooms, plus a late frost that killed many buds. Perhaps if more drivers switched to electric vehicles, the cherry blossoms would erupt at the proper time.
Eating Green in Washington, DC
Washington, DC, has a local chain of fast casual, vegetable-focused restaurants called Beefsteak. You can get a pre-selected combo, or choose your own veggies (and meat if you are so inclined). We ate outside – the upside of global warming – and loved our vegetable and grain bowls.
We also had a vegetarian feast at Zaytinya, founded by Jose Andres, who also started Beefsteak. The Mediterranean small plates restaurant has fantastic mezze, from crispy Brussels spouts to seared Halloumi cheese with dates, pomegranate, orange and mint. Zaytinya is a short walk from the Washington monument.
Note: Toyota loaned me the Prius Prime for a test drive. Opinions expressed are my own.