The all-new Prius for 2023 is designed for a younger buyer and packs a punch with its stylish, sportier look. Its fuel economy is among the best in its class, but it’s missing crucial features and offers a cramped interior with cheap materials. Compared to its competition, the Prius has some ground to make up in terms of interior quality, technology, comfort, cargo room, and value – meaning it will have to rely on its good looks and tried and authentic Toyota branding to make a statement.
Time marches relentlessly on in the automotive world, and the Toyota Prius, once considered the pinnacle of eco-consciousness, has been replaced by hybrid and electric vehicles that offer better performance, greater efficiency, and improved technology. The Prius still offers a great combination of economy and low emissions, but it’s no longer the undisputed leader in the green car market. For environmentally friendly drivers looking for the latest in green car technology, hybrid, and electric vehicles are the way to go.
The power output of the new Toyota is significantly higher than that of its predecessor: 194 horsepower for the front-wheel-drive version and 196 hp for the all-wheel-drive model (Toyota has yet to disclose the system torque outputs). The AWD system is now operable at all speeds – providing better traction in wet and slippery conditions – and it is now available in all trim levels. With no discernible difference in acceleration and handling between the FWD and AWD models, opting for AWD could be a wise decision if you live in an area that requires additional traction.
You can expect a slight fuel economy penalty with the AWD option. The LE FWD model has a manufacturer-estimated fuel economy of 57/56/57 mpg city/highway/combined, while the LE AWD model gets 53/54/54 mpg. The XLE and Limited FWD models have an estimated 52/52/52 mpg, while AWD versions drop to 49/50/49 mpg. Although regular 87-octane gasoline was traditionally recommended for the Prius, you will likely need to use the more expensive 91-octane premium fuel to achieve the power and fuel numbers obtained by Toyota.
The Toyota Prius is a car that emphasizes efficiency. But Toyota has now re-engineered it to appeal to a younger, more style-conscious consumer. While it’s not a sports sedan, it will still offer a more engaging and enjoyable driving experience, with its lower center of gravity, better seating position, increased power, and more tuning of the chassis and steering (with 19-inch wheels and tires on the cars tested). The power from a rolling start is peppy, and the continuously variable automatic transmission gives a familiar drone, making the Prius move smartly around town. Simply put, the new Prius is a much more fulfilling ride.
As stunning as the exterior is, the interior of the Prius takes things to the next level. Gone is the unconventional, center-placed gauge cluster found in previous models, replaced with a more conventional configuration that follows the design ethos of the all-electric bZ4X. The gauges are now mounted high on the dashboard allowing the driver to look over the steering wheel to read them. The gauges offer an excellent alternative for those wanting a head-up display, delivering a clear view of all the essential information.
The dashboard of the new Toyota Audio Multimedia system comes with two displays: an 8-inch touchscreen for the LE and XLE trims or an optional 12.3-inch touchscreen for the Limited top trim. These displays offer simple, user-friendly menus that allow easy access to a range of features, including audio and navigation settings and air conditioning and climate controls. The system offers ample screen real estate – more than enough to show everything at once – but the lack of a “home” screen can be slightly confusing. Nonetheless, it’s still a great system that is intuitive and reliable.
The interior of the Prius is an issue – the materials used don’t have the same competitive edge as models such as the latest Kia Niro hybrid. While soft-touch materials are limited (none in the second row), the overall grain and texture look like a much more affordable vehicle than the competition. Despite this, the Prius is still no worse than the previous models, but not better. Toyota must take note of the improvements in technology, controls, and displays that other models are utilizing. The steering wheel, for instance, is an unwelcoming sight, and the seats are either poorly covered fabric on the entry model or an imitation SofTex leather in upper trims.
Experience the comfort and sophistication of the top Limited trim level of the 2022 Hyundai Sonata with its heated and ventilated front seats. However, only the driver’s seat is power-adjustable—unfortunately, the passenger seat doesn’t offer any power adjustments. Add to these features single-zone automatic climate control, perfect for maximum comfort, and an available panoramic glass roof that doesn’t open to finish the package.
The 2023 Toyota Prius is an exceptional value for those seeking a hybrid vehicle that delivers superior fuel economy. Boasting an impressive 50 mpg combined with all-wheel drive available for just $1,400 on all trim models, the base LE starts at just $28,545, with the XLE and Limited coming in at $31,990 and $35,560, respectively. Of course, you can max out the trim and options for an impressive $39,090. While the Prius impresses with its fuel economy, the 2023 Kia Niro, 2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, and other options in the class provide even greater value with a starting price in the mid-to high-$20,000s while providing even more room for passengers and a more excellent interior.
The new 2023 Toyota Prius has been re-aimed at a new crowd that seeks a luxurious yet eco-friendly ride. It’s packed with performance, pizazz, and style, all for tens of thousands less than a Tesla Model 3. By compromising on interior materials quality, Prius’ affordability and personality stand out in an increasingly all-electric world. And while it might not be enough to restore Prius’ reign at the top of the eco-friendly sales list, it should help it remain relevant for some time.