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Toyota Prius 2023 First Drive Review: A Perfect Drive With Comfort

Image Source: Karolis Kavolelis / Shutterstock

For years, the Toyota Prius has been known as a quirky-looking hybrid lacking excitement, but Toyota has revamped the 2023 Prius to change that perception. The result is a more stylish hybrid with increased power under the hood and a significantly enhanced interior.

Toyota is branding the 2023 Prius as “Hybrid Reborn,” hinting at the changes. The latest Prius not only boasts a more stylish design compared to its predecessors but also features an upgraded hybrid powertrain.

Externally, the 2023 Prius is 2 inches lower, 1 inch longer, and 1 inch wider than its predecessor, giving it a more athletic look. During our test drive in San Diego, the Prius garnered more attention than expected, with onlookers intrigued by its new design. The sleek exterior boasts a 0.27 coefficient of drag.

Under the hood, the Prius now houses a larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with two motor-generators, delivering a combined 194 hp, a significant increase from the 121 hp in the previous Prius. The torque rating has also risen from 120 pound-feet to 139 lb-ft. The Prius can now accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, a 26% improvement over its predecessor’s time of 9.8 seconds.

For those seeking all-wheel drive, the Prius offers an optional electric motor powering the rear wheels. The Prius AWD model boasts a combined 196 hp and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds.

Despite the enhanced power, the Prius remains a fuel efficiency champion with a combined rating of up to 57 mpg. The XLE and Limited trims achieve up to 52 MPG combined, while the all-wheel drive versions range from 49 to 54 MPG. For even greater efficiency, there’s the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid set to debut in spring 2023.

During our drive on San Diego’s back roads, the added power was evident, allowing the Prius to accelerate more swiftly than before. The new Prius offers three drive modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport, with the latter two catering to drivers seeking a sportier experience. The updated lithium-ion battery enables more electric-only driving, with a smoother transition between the electric motor and the gas engine compared to its predecessor.

The revamped Prius boasts improvements in suspension and steering as well. The revised steering offers more feedback, particularly pronounced in Sport mode. The enhancements to the suspension provide a more planted feel on the road, instilling confidence on challenging routes compared to the previous model. Moreover, the new Prius is lighter, further enhancing its performance.

Internally, the unconventional design has been replaced with a more conventional cabin layout. The central speedometer from the previous generation has been replaced by a digital screen in front of the driver, reminiscent of the bZ4X model. The placement of the shifter has been shifted to the center console for a more ergonomic setup.

The standard Prius features an 8-inch touchscreen, with an optional 12.3-inch screen available. The infotainment system runs on Toyota’s latest software, offering improved usability and modern aesthetics. Toyota has also upgraded the materials used, elevating the cabin ambiance. The lower hip point of the seats contributes to a sportier driving experience, although reduced headroom in the rear may be noticeable. The optional fixed glass roof imparts an airy feel to the cabin.

Safety-wise, the 2023 Prius comes equipped with the Toyota Sense 3.0 suite, offering advanced features such as Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and more. The Proactive Driving Assist system automatically adjusts the Prius’s speed in response to surrounding vehicles.

The 2023 Toyota Prius starts at $28,545, inclusive of destination charges. All-wheel drive is available as an option across the LE, XLE, and Limited trims for an additional $1,500. The 2023 Prius is scheduled to arrive at dealerships in January.

In conclusion, the Prius has undergone a transformation, shedding its quirky image to embody a more conventional and refined persona.

Image Source: Karolis Kavolelis / Shutterstock

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