For years the Toyota Prius has been a weird looking hybrid without any dose of excitement, but Toyota has finally decided to mix things up for the 2023 Prius. The end result is a more stylish hybrid with more power under the hood and a much improved interior.
Toyota is using the tagline “Hybrid Reborn” for the 2023 Prius, which is an indication of what to expect. Not only is the new Prius more stylish than any Prius before it, Toyota has also beefed up the hybrid powertrain.
Starting on the outside, the 2023 Prius is 2 inches lower, 1 inch longer, 1 inch wider than its predecessor. What that means is that the Prius now has a sportier stance. During our drive around San Diego, the Prius got more attention than you would expect from a Prius. Many onlookers asked what it was and even got excited when we told them that this is the new Prius. Kudos to Toyota for finally designing a stylish Prius. That sleek exterior has a 0.27 coefficient of drag.
Under the hood the Prius gets a larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s mated to two motor-generators. The hybrid system generates a combined 194 hp, which is a big jump from the 121 hp in the last Prius. The torque rating has also increased from 120 pound-feet to 139 lb-ft. The Prius can now accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is a 26% improvement over the 9.8 second time of the outgoing front-wheel drive Prius.
If you need all-wheel drive, the Prius is available with an additional electric motor that powers the rear wheels. The Prius AWD has a combined 196 hp and can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds.
Even with that extra power, the Prius continues to be the MPG champ. It has a combined rating up to 57 mpg. The XLE and Limited trim levels get up to 52 MPG combined. The all-wheel drive versions are rated from 49 to 54 MPG. If you want more efficiency, there’s the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, but it’s not arriving until spring 2023.
On our drive around the back roads of San Diego, the extra power is evident. The Prius can now move from a stop with a lot more urgency than before. There are three drive modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport. For drivers that want a sportier driving experience, the Normal and Sport modes are where it’s at. The new lighter and more powerful lithium-ion battery allows for more electric-only driving and the switch from the electric motor to the gas engine is smoother than before. In the previous Prius the gas engine kicked on sooner and with a more clunky experience.
The all-wheel drive Prius also gets a rear electric motor that not only kicks in when extra traction is needed, but it also powers up when extra power is needed on a curvy road.
The extra power under the hood is just the start, since the suspension and steering have also been improved. The steering now provides more feedback, which is further improved if you select the Sport driving mode. The previous Prius’s steering could be described as “loosey goosey” with its numb and imprecise feel. We would stop right before saying that the updated steering makes the new Prius more fun to drive, but it is a significant improvement. The suspension improvements make the Prius feel more planted to the road, which provides a lot more confidence on a backcountry road than its clumsy predecessor. It also helps that the new Prius is lighter than before.
Inside the weird styling has been thrown out for a more conventional cabin. The center mounted speedometer on the previous generation has been swapped out for a digital screen that sits right in front of the driver. If you’ve checked out the bZ4X, you’ll notice that the Prius gets a similar system. The screen sits above the steering wheel, but we did notice that it could easily be blocked by the steering wheel depending on your height. The placement of the shifter is now on the center console instead of the awkward placement in the last Prius.
The Prius comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, but a larger 12.3-inch screen is available. The infotainment system runs Toyota’s latest software, which is not only more intuitive, but it also looks more modern. Toyota has also improved the materials, which makes the cabin feel a bit more upscale. The seats have a 1-inch-lower hip point, which adds to the sportier driving experience. The lower seats were also needed, since the Prius’ roof has been lowered by two inches. The lower height still eats into the available headroom, which is definitely noticeable in the back. The available fixed glass roof provides a more airy feel.
On the safety front the 2023 Prius comes standard with the Toyota Sense 3.0 suite, which includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Proactive Driving Assist. The new Proactive Driving Assist system automatically slows the Prius when you’re coming up on a slower car or heading into a curve.
The pricing for the 2023 Toyota Prius starts at $28,545, including destination. All-wheel drive is available on any of the three trim levels (LE, XLE and Limited) for an additional $1,500. The 2023 Prius will begin arriving at dealers in January.
At the end of the day, the rebirth of the Prius has arrived. The dorky styling and weird interior from before are gone and not only does the Prius now look more like a regular car, it also feels like one.
Image Source: Karolis Kavolelis / Shutterstock