The Toyota Prius has been a fixture since 1997, but its reputation for being “cool” has eluded it—until now, with the unveiling of the 2023 Prius. Toyota, for the first time, has prioritized design over function, and the results are impressive. The 2023 Prius sheds its previous dorky styling, transforming into a vehicle that you’ll take pride in driving. Adding to its allure, Toyota introduces the 2023 Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, taking the Prius to new heights.
The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid builds upon the standard Prius, featuring a larger lithium-ion battery and other under-the-hood changes that extend its electric range to an impressive 44 miles. This marks a remarkable 76 percent increase over the last Prius Prime, making it an ideal choice for buyers seeking an extended EV driving range without fully committing to an all-electric vehicle.
Under the hood, the Prius Prime boasts increased power, now propelled by a 150 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a larger 161 hp electric motor generator. The hybrid system delivers a combined 220 horsepower, a substantial 100 horsepower more than the previous generation, with an increased torque rating of 139 lb-ft compared to the previous 105 lb-ft. This translates to a swift 0-60 mph time of only 6.6 seconds—a notable acceleration improvement for the Prius Prime.
In fully electric mode, the Prius Prime achieves a top speed of 84 mph, with the top XSE and XSE Premium trim levels featuring a slightly shorter 39-mile EV range. Nonetheless, this represents a significant improvement over the previous Prius Prime, which only had a 25-mile EV range. While the acceleration in EV mode may not be as punchy, the Prius Prime truly comes to life when both motors are engaged.
The HV/EV Auto mode automatically activates the engine when additional power is needed, such as uphill driving. Once the battery is depleted, the Prius Prime seamlessly transitions into a hybrid model, akin to the standard Prius but with added power. In hybrid mode, the Prius Prime achieves an impressive 52 mpg combined.
Charging the Prius Prime with a 120-volt outlet takes 11 hours for a full recharge, while a 240-volt charger shortens the time to four hours. The top XSE Premium trim offers an optional 185W solar roof, capable of providing a small charge to the battery when parked in the sun, supporting auxiliary functions while driving.
On the road, the Prius Prime delivers an enjoyable driving experience, quick to accelerate from a stop. However, its light steering lacks substantial feedback. The well-tuned suspension strikes a balance between comfort and minimal body roll, contributing to a fun-to-drive plug-in hybrid, especially in urban settings. The Prius Prime offers three drive modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport.
Externally, the Prius Prime maintains a close resemblance to the regular Prius, distinguished primarily by the Prime badge on the rear and its unique 17- or 19-inch wheels. Inside, the dashboard and seats feature red trim, enhancing the interior’s style. The SE comes with standard fabric seats, while the XSE and XSE Premium are equipped with SofTex leatherette seats.
Safety features include the new Traffic Jam Assist system, allowing for hands-free driving on highways at speeds under 25 mph. The system manages steering, braking, and acceleration, providing a more relaxed driving experience in traffic, with a driver monitor camera ensuring attention to the road. The Proactive Driving Assist system utilizes the vehicle’s camera and radar system to offer braking or steering assistance during curves or to maintain a safe following distance.
The base SE trim level comes with dark grey 17-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen, fabric seats, rain-sensing wipers, and blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert. Front and rear parking assist with automatic braking is available as a $35 option on the base model.
The XSE trim adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a heated driver’s seat, a digital key, SofTex seats, and a wireless charger. Optional upgrades for the XSE include a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen ($735) and a panoramic glass roof ($1,000). The top-tier XSE Premium includes 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. Additional options for the XSE Premium include 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).
The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime SE starts at $33,445, including destination. The XSE Premium begins at $40,265, and the XSE is priced at $36,695.
With its extended electric driving range, increased power, and its more stylish exterior, the 2023 Prius Prime is set to redefine perceptions of the Prius, making it a compelling choice for those seeking a blend of efficiency and style. We were so impressed with the Prius Prime, that we added a 2024 Toyota Prius Prime that to our long term fleet.