The Toyota Prius has been around since 1997 and even with multiple iterations over the years, no one has ever labeled the Prius as “cool”, but now that’s changed with the introduction of the 2023 Prius. For the first time ever Toyota has placed a higher emphasis on design over function and we only have good things to say about how it looks. The 2023 Prius is finally ditching its dorky styling, making it something you’d be proud to drive. Now Toyota has made it even better, with the introduction of the 2023 Prius Prime plug-in hybrid.

2023 Toyota Prius Prime First Drive Review

The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid builds on the standard Prius, but gets a larger lithium-ion battery and other changes under the hood to give it an electric range up to 44 miles. Thats a whopping 76 percent increase over the last Prius Prime, making it the perfect choice for buyers that want a longer EV driving range, but aren’t quite ready to make the switch to a fully electric vehicle.

Under the hood the Prius Prime also has more power, since it’s now powered by a 150 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a bigger 161 hp electric motor generator. The hybrid system generates a combined 220 horsepower, which is about 100 horsepower more than the last generation. The torque rating has also increased to 139 lb-ft. compared to 105 in the last model. This all translates to a 0-60 mph time of only 6.6 seconds. Yup you read that right, the Prius Prime now zooms down the road with more fervor than any Prius ever has.

In fully electric mode, the Prius Prime tops out at 84 mph and the top XSE and XSE Premium trim levels get a slightly shorter 39 mile EV range. But either way that’s a nice improvement over the last Prius Prime that only had a 25 mile EV range. In EV mode, the acceleration isn’t quite as punchy, but with both motors powered up the Prime really comes to life.

There’s also the HV/EV Auto mode, which automatically powers up the engine when more power is needed, like going up a hill. Once the battery is depleted, the Prius Prime turns into a hybrid model, just like the standard Prius, but with more power. The Prius Prime is rated at 52 mpg combined in hybrid mode.

Charging it with a 120-volt outlet takes 11 hours to fully recharge the battery, but only four hours with a 240-volt charger. The top XSE Premium trim level is available with a 185W solar roof, which is capable of adding a bit of charge to the battery when the Prius Prime is parked in the sun. It’s not going to fully recharge the battery, but it will add a small amount of range. The solar charger also adds power to the auxiliary functions when you’re driving.

On the road, the Prius Prime can quickly zoom from a stop, making it the most fun to drive Prius yet. The driving experience is only let down by its light steering, which lacks and real feel. The suspension does a good job of keeping the ride comfortable without too much body roll. This all translates to a fun to drive plug-in hybrid when you’re zipping around town. There are also three drive modes: Normal, Eco and Sport.

2023 Toyota Prius Prime First Drive Review

On the outside, there aren’t any real big differences between the regular Prius and the Prius Prime. The only way you can really tell the difference is with the Prime badge on the rear and it’s unique 17- or 19-inch wheels. Inside you’ll noticed a red trim on the dashboard and seats, which adds a bit more style to the interior. The SE comes standard with fabric seats, while the XSE and XSE Premium get SofTex leatherette seats.

On the safety front, the Prime comes standard with the new Traffic Jam Assist system, which allows for hands-free driving on a highway and speeds under 25 mph. The system takes over the steering, braking and acceleration. That means that it will let you relax a bit more when driving in traffic, but a driver monitor camera makes sure that your eyes are still on the road ahead. The Proactive Driving Assist system uses the vehicle’s camera and radar system to add braking or steering assistance when entering a curve or to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

The base SE trim level comes standard with dark grey 17-inch alloy wheels with wheel covers, an 8-inch touchscreen, fabric seats, rain-sensing wipers, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert. Front and rear parking assist with automatic braking is a $35 option on the base model.

The XSE adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a heated driver’s seat, a digital key, SofTex eats, and a wireless charger. The XSE can also be equipped with a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen ($735) and a panoramic glass roof ($1,000). The top spec XSE Premium adds a JBL audio system, the 12.3-inch touchscreen, a panoramic glass roof, heated and ventilated front seats, a power liftback and the digital key. The XSE Premium can also be equipped with the solar roof ($610), a digital rearview mirror ($200), heated rear seats ($350) and the Advanced Technology Package Park and Panoramic View Monitor ($1,085).

2023 Toyota Prius Prime First Drive Review

The pricing for the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime SE starts at $33,445, including destination. The XSE Premium starts at $40,265 and the XSE starts at $36,695.

With its longer electric driving range, more power under the hood and dare we say “sexy” styling the 2023 Prius Prime is hard to not love the new Prius. Toyota only plans to sell 10,000 units this year and it goes on sale in May.