Get Ready for the Fifth Generation Prius
The Toyota Prius has come a long way since it debuted 22 years ago as the first hybrid car to be sold in the United States. The initial skepticism from many amounted to—“What the hell is a hybrid car?” This is rarely heard anymore as hybrid technology is proven, and the all-new 2023 Toyota Prius is here to show what being the world’s best-selling hybrid car is all about now.
Toyota pulled the sheet off the 2023 Prius before the media in Los Angeles on November 16. This is a quick look, but we’ll be getting behind the wheel soon, so check-back in December for a full review with driving impressions. Until then, this is what we know so far.
A sleeker look for next year’s Prius
New Powertrain, Increased Efficiency
The 2023 Prius Hybrid is available with a single electric motor and front-wheel drive (FWD) or with dual motors for the all-wheel drive (AWD) model. Both are mated to a 2.0-liter gasoline engine with a lithium-ion battery that replaces the nickel-metal hydride battery from the previous generations. Toyota says the lithium-ion battery is 15% more efficient and weighs less, both of which are key for getting high fuel economy. The wheels are driven by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with three driver-selectable drive modes of Normal, Eco and Sport.
Lower, wider, faster (looking)
Performance specifications are sparse at this point, but Toyota did say the FWD single motor Prius hybrid can go 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is 2.6 seconds faster than the outgoing model. The AWD dual motor Prius with 196 horsepower is a bit quicker, clocking that sprint at 7.0 seconds.
If opting for the Prius Prime plug-in-hybrid (PHEV), the 0-60 time drops to 6.6 seconds.
Driving Range and Charging
Toyota has rated the 2023 Prius hybrid at 57 combined miles per gallon (mpg). For the Prius Prime PHEV, Toyota did not release the expected fuel economy. However, when we last tested the Prius Prime in 2020, we were able to get 61.4 mpg. Anecdotally, we know Prius Prime owners that surpass this gaudy number.
The EVonly range of the Prius Prime is 50% longer than the last generation, which was 25 miles. The Prius Hybrid and Prius Prime both utilize regenerative braking that converts kinetic energy into electricity when braking or coasting and returns it to the battery for later use. The Prius Prime, as a plug-in hybrid, can be charged with these approximate times:
Level 1: 120V – 5.3 hours: discharged to a full charge
Level 2: 240V – 2.1 hours: discharged to a full charge
The 2023 Prius is available in three trim levels of LE, XLE and Limited. Expect the performance and efficiency to be the same from each, with the features and options increasing as you walk up the trim ladder. The exterior has been significantly changed and modernized, with Toyota finally recognizing a hybrid car no longer has to look different from other cars to get people’s attention.
Side-by-side with the current Prius, the 2023 Prius is lower and wider, making for an attractive profile. Color options will be Wind Chill Pearl, Cutting Edge, Guardian Gray, Black, Supersonic Red or Reservoir Blue.
A more conventional dash
With the lower stance comes a lower driving position, which will add an air of sportiness. The driver visibility looks good, and the dash features two screens. The driver information screen rises behind the steering wheel, while the infotainment screen dominates the center of the dash. This screen is 8-inches on the LE, while the XLE and Limited get a 12.3-inch multi-media screen.
The multimedia system includes navigation and SiriusXM/AM/FM radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. USB ports and wireless phone charging are standard. A JBL Premium Audio System is optional on the XLE but standard on the Limited, as is a fixed glass roof.
The seats, heated and power on the two upper grades, are covered in a synthetic leather that is also found wrapping the steering wheel. As with previous Prius models, three adults can fit in the back seat where they get cup holders.
Safety, Pricing and Availability
The 2023 Prius comes with active and passive advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) through the Toyota Safety Sense technology.
Pricing and availability have not been released. We will report on both in our review in December.
Observations: 2023 Toyota Prius Hybrid and Prius Prime PHEV
It has taken a while, but Toyota has delivered a Prius that will make people go “Ooooo!” The old wedge shape with harsh angles is gone, transitioning to a sleek, aerodynamic, high mileage and very different hybrid car–the 2023 Toyota Prius.
We say Bravo!
Next month we’ll let you know if it’s more than new looks
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by Toyota.
John Faulkner is Road Test Editor at Clean Fleet Report. He has more than 30 years’ experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent’s 1950 Studebaker. He is a journalist member of the Motor Press Guild.