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Road Test: 2023 Toyota Prius

By
Dave Nichols
and
6
min
Aug 2023
The Toyota Prius hybrid has always offered impressive fuel economy along with practicality. The latest model gives you everything you loved about the Prius but in a sleek, exciting new design that's truly fun to drive.
2023 Toyota Prius Hybrid parked by a man on the road
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2023 Toyota Prius: Desirability and Practicality

The Toyota Prius is the car that introduced most of us to the term “hybrid” when it comes to cars. Now in its fifth generation, the Prius adds desirability to its traditional virtues of fuel economy and practicality – vastly improved looks and massively improved performance make this a hybrid you’d buy because you want it, not just because it’s good for you.

The world’s first mass-produced hybrid appeared as a four-door sedan in 1997, but the Prius soon became the distinctive lift-back in 2003. By 2008, Toyota had sold one million; two million by 2010; and three million by 2013. Today, the Prius is the world's top selling hybrid with over five million sold.

This latest 2023 Prius is based on Toyota's new TNGA-C platform, which is more rigid, weighs less, and offers a lower center of gravity than before. The new Prius is 1.1 inches longer, 1.6 inches lower, and about an inch wider than the previous version, with a 2-inch longer wheelbase.

2023 Toyota Prius Hybrid parked in garage

2023 Prius: You Have Choices

In prior years, the Prius was really only known for its ability to save you money at the gas pump. Now, it’s a much more complete and desirable vehicle: better looking, better to drive, and with impressive performance. Plus, it gets even better mileage than ever before.

You get more of everything with the new 2023 Prius – for about $1,100 more than last year's model. The starting TSRP of the base LE is $28,545, and all-wheel drive can be ordered for just $1,400 more.

  • Prius LE - starting TSRP of $28,545
  • Prius XLE - starting TSRP of $31,990
  • Prius Limited - starting TSRP of $35,560

All three trim levels of the new Prius hybrid use the same 194-hp, 2.0-liter gasoline engine, mated to an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission. It’s a similar package to the successful Corolla Cross hybrid. All-wheel drive models use a larger magnet in the rear motor, adding 2 extra hp for a total of 196.

2023 Toyota Prius Hybrid interior view of front seat and navigation

A Look Inside The New Prius

The interior of the 2023 Prius has been totally redesigned. There is a larger touchscreen, heated seats front and back in the upper trim levels, and digital gauges are now centered over the well-positioned steering wheel. The shift knob has been moved to the console where it belongs, instead of by the radio.

One thing current Prius owners might not love is that the new car is lower than before. The sexy looks and sleek profile, which contribute to even better efficiency, means that the seating position is about two inches lower than last year’s model, with a roof that is about 1.4 inches lower. Headroom has been reduced, especially in the back seat, getting in and out isn’t as easy as it used to be, and cargo room has dropped from 27.4 cubic feet to 20.4. On the other hand, there’s more legroom than before.

You'll get an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen in the base Prius LE model, but the XLE and Limited offer the option of a big 12.3-inch screen. Google voice assistant is as a standard feature, as well. Fortunately, there are still separate air conditioning controls – plus a phone charger next to the shifter, Bluetooth, and six USB ports positioned throughout the cabin. The infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and available onboard wi-fi.

Toyota's Safety Sense 3.0 system is standard and includes driver assist features like automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

2023 Toyota Prius Hybrid bird's eye view

On The Road With The Toyota Prius

This all-new Prius is truly different on the road. It is no longer a stodgy, boring, and slow ride that just manages to get you where you're going. It actually feels sporty – from the suspension to the braking, to the peppier acceleration.

The Prius is also really smooth on the highway. It moves seamlessly from electric to gasoline power and back with no effort or input required on your part – just gliding along for mile after gas-saving mile. When you want to pass a car, the extra horsepower makes this a new and much better driving experience over the Prius of old.

Older Prisues made you feel like you were sitting up high in the car; the new fifth generation Prius feels more like you are sitting inside the vehicle, like a part of it. The performance-oriented suspension and chassis tuning back up that sensation. There are new front struts and a revised rear. The multi-link suspension now has excellent KYB dampers for less body lean. And the Michelin all-season tires offer plenty of grip for better performance. All in all, the new Prius feels very composed on a variety of road surfaces.

You'll notice a little extra burst of speed with the all-wheel drive versions, since they include an extra electric motor in the back – but it’s less noticeable once you’re rolling. You will notice the difference on wet roads, though.

The bigger hybrid combo in the fifth-generation car makes this the fastest Prius ever – 0 to 60 mph comes up in an estimated 7.1 seconds, compared to the previous model, which took 10.5 seconds. Bigger brakes mean this Prius stops faster than ever. As for fuel economy, Toyota claims the new Prius is capable of 57 miles per gallon in combined highway and city driving (EPA estimated) in base front-wheel drive trim with 17-inch wheels – a five-mpg improvement over the old model.

One new feature worth mentioning is Proactive Drive Assist. This provides smart reminders such as when traffic ahead slows, the car will automatically slow down to match the flow of traffic. If you head into a curve, the car will slow down to make sure you take the curve at an appropriate speed. If a stop light turns green, and a car drives away in front of you, LED lights flash to remind you it’s time to move forward. If you find all this "help" annoying, you can turn the system off.

2023 Toyota Prius: Conclusion

The Prius was always a champion in the fuel economy and practicality stakes. Now, it’s a much more complete package, and one that’s truly desirable. The 2023 Prius isn’t just supremely efficient. It looks great, is fun to drive, and even offers impressive performance along with its economy. The stylish new package may have sacrificed a little bit of space, but overall, this new Prius is a huge upgrade over the old model.