Sebastian Blanco was one of eight American media people Toyota recently flew to Japan to have a first drive with the Prius Prime. As part of that trip, the group got to spend a good amount of time with Koji Toshiyama, the Prius Chief Engineer.
Here's the thing, in my opinion, a lot of this is making a non-issue into an issue. By that I mean, as someone who has recently spent some time in the back seat of a "five seat" Toyota let me tell you, it's not pleasant. It's not comfortable, in any way, for three adults. Now, if you change the mix and make the back seat occupants children or very small adults, it gets better but a lot of the heat over this issue is just the opportunity to make three people very uncomfortable in a back seat.Toshiyama, the chief engineer for the new Prius and the Prius Prime, told AutoblogGreen during our pre-production test drive that he's looking forward to figuring out how to expand the rear seating area in the Prime. It's one of the things he's working on, alongside early, early work on the next-gen Prius, which isn't due for a few more years. Toshiyama couldn't share details on when a five-seat Prime might follow the four-seat version, but at least we know that this new Prime is not the end of the road for Toyota's electric improvements.
Frankly, I think it's more honest sell it as a four seater.