Toyota unveiled three new cars Wednesday morning at the New York Auto Show. The highlight was its new hybrid plugin, the Prius Prime. This is the first Prius from the automaker in two years.

NEW YORK — Toyota pulled the wraps off the Prius Prime, a new plug-in hybrid car, along with an updated version of its popular Highlander mid-size SUV and the new Toyota 86 sports car at the New York Auto Show on Wednesday.

Japan’s No. 1 automaker gave its Highlander more aggressive front grille, a new engine and a new transmission.

While the big, eight-passenger Highlander will easily outsell the Prius Prime, the return of Toyota’s plug-in Prius was still the star of the show.

Toyota drove the Prius Prime through white balloons and an isle between hundreds of journalists gathered for the introduction.

The introduction of the 2017 Prius Prime comes two years after Toyota ended production of its previous Prius plug-in hybrid car. The first Prius plug-in car went just 11 miles on a full charge and failed to win over many consumers, making it a disappointment compared with the conventional hybrid Prius that debuted about 16 years ago in the U.S.

Toyota’s introduction of the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid also shows how committed Toyota is to its Prius lineup of hybrids at a time when gas prices remain at unexpected lows.

Toyota estimates that the Prius Prime will get 120 or more MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) — the highest MPGe rating of any Plug-in Hybrid. That also represents a substantial 26% improvement over its predecessor.

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The Japanese automaker says the Prius Prime can go 22 miles on a full charge before switching over to a gasoline engine and can drive at speeds 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 is powered by an 8.8 kilowatt battery pack when it is in electric mode but also features Toyota’s first dual motor generator drive system, that uses both the electric motor and the generator for drive force.

Whether or not that will be enough to win over new fans could be a big test. The Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric car that goes on sale later this year with a 60-kilowatt battery will get an estimated 200 MPGe on one charge and will sell for $30,000 after federal tax credits.

The Prius Prime also will go up against Ford’s Energi siblings — the C-Max and Fusion — that are rated at 19 miles of electric range and the 2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV that rated at 27 MPGe and the Chevrolet Volt that gets 53 miles of electric range.

With the Prius Prime, Toyota tried to move away from the plain, aerodynamic shape for which the Prius hybrid is known. The new Prius plug-in has a more chiseled profile and edgy character lines.

It takes about 5.5 hours to recharge the Prius Prime using a standard 120-volt household outlet. That drops in half to about 2.25 hours with a 240V source.

Meanwhile, the Toyota gave its 2017 Highlander a mean-looking front grille reminiscent of the steep, spindle grilles used by the Lexus brand.

Toyota says the performance of the Highlander will be improved with the addition of an eight-speed transmission and a new 3.5-liter V-6 direct injection engine. Still, Toyota said the standard powertrain on Highlander will remain the 2.7-liter four-cylinder paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

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