OJAI, Calif. -- To fully understand the selling points of the new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, pull out a calculator.
With just 25 miles of electric-only range, the newest member of the Prius family isn't going to let you play EV enthusiast for very long. Its closest competitor on the market today, the Chevrolet Volt, has enough range to let your imagination run more than twice as far, 53 clicks on the odometer.
But otherwise, the math is kind to the weirdly styled Prius.
Even in base trim, the Prime comes with heated seats, a safety suite and a bevy of gauges to monitor all the goings-on in the drivetrain. Drive modes include a combination of eco, normal, sport and electric-only, hybrid-only or automatic switching between the two.
Its base sticker price, with shipping, is $27,965. And it's eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $4,500. That's a lot of car and a lot of technology for the mid-$23,000s.
A $1,700 trim upgrade adds an 11.6-inch tablet-style screen on the center stack and apps to set charging times for the best electricity rates.
The base Volt, which is quicker but less efficient, stickers at $34,095 with shipping. It's eligible for a federal tax break of $7,500, since it has a larger battery.
Both cars may be eligible for additional tax breaks in the few states that offer them.
Run the numbers and what the Prime has going for it is value. Toyota says that's an asset that could help attract buyers who are still unsure about the payoffs of electrification.