2023 Toyota Prius First Drive: Fashionable New Look, Extra Energy, However Nonetheless A Prius

2023 Toyota Prius
This isn’t your mother and father’ Prius. Toyota’s first hybrid will get youthful new appears for 2023. Toyota

Toyota’s Prius was the primary trendy hybrid, and thru 4 generations since its 1997 introduction in Japan (2001 within the U.S.), it has remained an odd-looking however extraordinarily environment friendly people-mover. For its fifth technology, it will get a complete remake as Toyota tries to maintain it related in an automotive universe now awash in electrified automobiles.

The 2023 do-over, Toyota advertising and marketing executives say, is a bid to draw youthful, trendier consumers with a sporty new look with out driving away the Prius base of commuters (and ride-hailing app drivers), younger households and older empty nesters, all searching for effectivity and worth. The Prius misplaced its best-selling hybrid standing in 2019 and hasn’t recovered, with U.S. gross sales numbers as little as ever in 2022.

With 14 hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electrical automobiles within the Toyota lineup (with extra to come back), the Prius “performs a distinct position in our lineup than it did prior to now,” mentioned Lisa Materazzo, Toyota North America’s group vp for advertising and marketing. It’s not making an attempt to regain its hybrid crown.

Throughout a North American media preview of the brand new Prius we put each the front- and all-wheel drive variations by their paces on dry, snow-free Southern California roads.

2023 Toyota Prius
The brand new Prius is extra enjoyable to drive than its predecessor, however don’t put money into a set of racing stripes. John O’Dell

Appears Can Deceive

When parked side-by-side with the outgoing 2022 mannequin, the brand new Prius, at first look, seems to be way more streamlined and aerodynamic. In actuality, the 2 are far more related. Satoki Oya, Prius’ chief engineer, mentioned the 2023 mannequin truly has a barely increased drag coefficient than its predecessor, however the newer hybrid has much less frontal space and narrower tread width relative to tire diameter, which lowers complete rolling resistance.

Mixed, that provides as much as a sleeker wanting automotive that doesn’t lower by the air any higher than its bulkier predecessor. Nonetheless, the Prius wasn’t earlier than and isn’t now designed to be a drag racer or canyon carver. 

2023 Toyota Prius
With a bigger gasoline engine and all these subtle energy electronics to run the hybrid system, it’s crowded below the 2023 Prius hood. John O’Dell

Extra Energy 

The 2023 mannequin does sit on a revamped platform, although, with stiffer suspension and an extended wheelbase than its predecessor.

It additionally will get a extra highly effective hybrid system with a 150 horsepower, 2.0-liter gasoline engine as a substitute of the 96 hp, 1.8-liter engine of yore, a lithium-ion battery that’s 14% extra highly effective than in previous fashions and an electrical motor that, at 111 hp, is 56% extra highly effective than its predecessor. 

The result’s a 60% increase in complete energy output: 194 horsepower, or 196 ponies within the two-motor, all-wheel drive model, versus 121 hp for front- and all-wheel variations in 2022.

On the Highway

All that makes the brand new Prius much more enjoyable to drive than its predecessors, however it’s nonetheless a pressure to name it an interesting trip. It’s about 3 seconds faster from zero to 60 mph (7.2 sec versus 10.5 in entrance drive, 7 sec. versus 9.8 in AWD) however that simply means it now can get out of its personal method. Prayers earlier than tackling a steep climb or a fast overtake at the moment are simply an possibility.

On dry back-country roads there isn’t numerous distinction between front-drive and all-wheel drive variations. The horsepower distinction is negligible and the revised digital all-wheel drive system, which provides a extra highly effective electrical motor on the rear axle to allow torque splitting whereas cornering, will seemingly make its presence felt extra in snow or on moist roads. 

In each variations, the trip is firmer with much less physique roll on corners. Steering is responsive and braking is linear with no mushiness because it transitions from regenerative to mechanical. The XLE and Restricted trims trip on 19-inch alloys, the bottom LE trim on 17-inch wheels. 

That every one goes to creating the Prius a pleasant automotive to drive, however nothing extra.

Effectivity First 

Gas financial system has all the time been the Prius’ high promoting level.

Regardless of the huge hike in horsepower, the bottom LE with entrance drive ought to ship as much as 57 miles per gallon, or mpg, in response to Toyota’s estimates. That’s a Prius greatest. All wheel-drive drops the LE’s mixed estimate to 54 mpg. Different front-drive trims ship a Toyota-estimated 52 mpg, their all-wheel drive variations dropping to 49 mpg in mixed metropolis and freeway driving.

On the finish of a 42-mile run on 91-octane within the mid-grade XLE trim with optionally available glass roof, the on-board laptop confirmed that my co-driver and I had achieved 49.1 mpg, with 66% of the miles pushed on electrical energy. That was all computer-controlled, with out participating EV mode, which is driver-selected and solely works at low speeds for brief distances.

2023 Toyota Prius
The entrance seats are an unique Prius design for 2023. Plastics are prime quality and the general structure is an enormous enchancment over previous fashions with the center-mount driver data display and dash-mounted shifter.  Toyota
2023 Toyota Prius
The LE and XLE trims get a typical 8-inch touchscreen and audio system; the highest trim will get a 12.3-inch display, pictured, and premium JBL audio. All get a separate 7-inch driver data display. John O’Dell 
2023 Toyota Prius
There’s 20 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the 2023 Prius’ rear seats—good when in comparison with most small and midsize sedans—however quite a bit lower than the 27.4 cubes out there within the 2022 Prius. Toyota

Inside, Tech and Security

The brand new cabin is trendy and extra premium than in earlier fashions with upscale touches together with a skinny light-bar embedded within the decrease dashboard that not solely provides a colourful spotlight however serves a objective: It blinks to let a distracted driver at an intersection know that the automotive forward has began shifting.

The instrument panel now sits in a binnacle of its personal immediately within the driver’s line of sight, an enormous enchancment from the present technology’ center-mounted show, and the power-adjustable driver’s entrance buckets and 60/40 cut up rear bench seats are supportive and comfy, though a bit thinner and firmer than in previous generations.

In-cabin storage is enough and there’s a slim slot within the heart console that securely holds the telephone within the wi-fi charger that’s customary with the 2 higher trims. 

There are guide controls for lights, drive modes (Eco, Regular and Sport), heating and air con and audio quantity, however most every thing else is relegated to the touchscreen, which runs the easy-to-use Toyota Audio Multimedia system launched with the 2022 Tundra pickup and in addition out there on the 2023 Sequoia SUV and bZ4X all-electric crossover. Wi-fi connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is customary, however many options, together with cloud-based navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot and superior voice management, are solely out there by subscription. 

The 2023 Prius additionally comes with the great Toyota Security Sense 3.0 suite of superior security and driver help options together with adaptive cruise management, entrance collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and lane preserving help and an emergency cease operate that may safely cease the automotive if the motive force turns into non-responsive.

2023 Toyota Prius
Recessed LED headlamps on the nostril add a brand new model factor to the subsequent technology of the Prius. John O’Dell
2023 Toyota Prius
New for 2023: A nipped-in waistline. John O’Dell

Design Downsides

If there’s a detrimental to the redesign, it’s that in sculpting the 2023 Prius designers didn’t simply make it longer and wider—an inch every path—they lopped 2 inches off the general top. Consequently, the cavernous inside and capacious cargo areas which have marked the previous two Prius generations are not any extra. 

The 2023 mannequin remains to be roomy in its horizontal planes—legroom versus the 2022 mannequin is up an inch within the entrance and virtually 1.5 inches within the rear, and there’s 1.3 inches extra hip room throughout the entrance buckets. However headroom is down significantly. Taller occupants—particularly within the rear seats—might discover their coiffures colliding with the ceiling because the headliner is 1.4 inches nearer in entrance and an inch nearer within the rear.   

Most buyers gained’t discover the shrunken inside capability, however it may very well be a little bit of a shock for a few of these planning on trading-in an older-gen Prius.

2023 Toyota Prius
Regardless of all of the modifications, the 2023 Prius retains the distinctive wedge-shape profile that’s set the Prius aside from the group for many years. Toyota

Floor Adjustments

On the floor, Toyota’s targets appear to have been realized.

The 2023 Prius is strikingly good-looking, even a bit glossy—a primary for a mannequin beforehand marked by lumpy exterior design—and its inside is as properly sculpted as its outsides. On the similar time, there’s nothing concerning the new Prius that must be off-putting to the majority of at the moment’s Prius house owners.

Its effectivity stays outstanding, particularly because it comes with that large enhance in energy. However that energy doesn’t flip the Prius right into a neck-snapping, gut-churning rocket. So, whereas faster than ever, the 2023 Prius stays a fairly staid steed, an appropriate day by day driver for the legions of Prius loyalists who’re prepared for a brand new mount—or for any small sedan buyers who aren’t compelled to be first throughout the intersection at each mild.

Loopy Competitors

Toyota says seemingly rivals for the 2023 Prius are the Kia Niro hybrid, a small SUV-styled crossover, and the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata hybrids, each a lot bigger sedans. 

All are handsome with pricing that’s near the brand new Prius. The Niro is shut in dimension with extra cargo space whereas the Accord and Sonata provide significantly extra entrance legroom and headroom however much less cargo area. The Accord hybrid doesn’t come near the Prius in effectivity and the very best of the bunch, the bottom Niro hybrid, nonetheless falls quick at an EPA ranking of 53 mpg mixed.

Not talked about by Toyota are two of its personal fashions, the Corolla and Camry hybrids. The Corolla is about the identical dimension as the brand new Prius, however prices much less on a trim-vs.-trim foundation. It might probably ship as much as 50 mpg mixed; the Camry is in the identical worth vary because the Prius however is longer, wider, roomier and comes with an EPA ranking of as much as 52 mpg mixed. As sedans, neither can measure as much as the hatchback Prius’ 20 cubic-feet of cargo capability, however the Camry comes shut at 15.1 cubic-feet within the trunk.

2023 Toyota Prius
Toyota desires to attract youthful consumers into the Prius household. However the sporty new look is accompanied by the identical hyper-efficiency liked by longtime Prius followers.  Toyota

When Will the 2023 Toyota Prius be Obtainable and How A lot Will it Price?

The brand new Prius hybrid will start hitting dealerships in early January, with the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime slated for a spring 2023 arrival.

The bottom front-drive LE hybrid will begin at $28,545 adopted by the XLE at $31,990, and the Restricted at $35,560. All three trims can be found with digital all-wheel drive for a further $1,400. All costs embody Toyota’s $1,095 vacation spot price.

There aren’t many packages or choices, however the LE and XLE might be fitted with the 12.3-inch touchscreen for $735. The glass roof is offered for the XLE for $1,000, and the Restricted can get heated rear seats (heated and ventilated entrance seats are customary on the highest trim) for $350.

Pricing for the plug-in Prius Prime gained’t be launched till nearer to its introduction, however a $2,000-to-$3,000 bump versus standard hybrid trims wouldn’t be out of line based mostly on the promised enhancements in energy and vary and the worth distinction between standard and plug-in Priuses for 2022.

Whereas the 2023 Prius isn’t the roomiest, quickest nor most utilitarian of the small hybrids out there at the moment, it retains its class-leading gas effectivity and sports activities a scorching new look that should be a draw by itself.

2023 Toyota Prius
Sebastian Blanco

Toyota offered lodging and meals to allow us to carry you this first-person report. Though Forbes Wheels typically participates in manufacturer-hosted occasions, our protection is impartial, unbiased and aimed toward providing shoppers an goal view of each automobile we take a look at.


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