- Toyota has not released prices for the 2023 Prius. We expect it to start around $26,000, and climb to the low $30,000 range
- Toyota estimates the Prius hybrid will achieve up to 57 mpg in combined driving, while the plug-in hybrid versions could have an electric-only range of about 38 miles.
- The Eco Icon gets a sexy new design inside and out, but the efficiency gains are surprisingly modest
Today, Toyota unveiled the all-new Prius. In some ways, it’s a dramatic leap forward for the world’s most popular hybrid car. In other cases, surprisingly, it does not happen.
The Prius name is as famous for its subtle styling as it is for its revolutionary fuel economy. The all-new 2023 Prius will change that perception.
Dare we say it—the 2023 Prius is a pretty good-looking car.
Stylish, elegant new style
Designers have created something amazing. The 2023 Prius cannot be confused with anything other than a Prius. But it went from awkward to bluntly determined.
The iconic Prius teardrop-shaped silhouette is here, but it looks more sleek and sporty than eco-friendly and haute couture. The sharply restyled front end wears narrow C-shaped daytime running lights that are thin as slits. They sit atop small projector headlights embedded in a long horizontal cut line like a sly grin.
The large lower air dam framed in satin gray is the only possible misfit—from some angles, the car appears to be screaming at the traffic ahead.
The classic Prius wedge has been swept even sharper, transforming the car’s biggest visual flaw into a sportier look.
Simple, attractive and clean cabin
Moving into the cabin, we find a clean design, not quite Scandinavian in its simplicity but pleasantly uncluttered.
It lacks the traditional shade over the driver’s instrument bezel, and instead uses a low-glare hexagonal screen. A central touchscreen—8 inches on the bottom edges and 12.3 inches on the top Limited trim—is mounted high, so the driver doesn’t have to look down to read it. But the physical audio switch and climate control buttons save you from flicking through menus to adjust sound and temperature settings.
With an available Connected Service Drive Connect subscription, owners have access to a voice-activated intelligent assistant (say “Hey, Toyota” to activate it) for hands-free control.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Buyers get a one-month trial of 4G Wi-Fi connectivity onboard. That same connection would allow Toyota to send over-the-air updates to the new Prius, potentially saving owners a trip to the dealership for software updates and some recall fixes.
More driver assistance
Safety equipment includes Toyota’s Safety Sense 3.0 suite of driver-assist features, with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, and dynamic cruise control. New Proactive Driving Assist provides “gentle cornering, gentle braking and/or steering to help support driving tasks such as controlling the distance to the previous vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist.”
It can also slow the vehicle to a stop if the driver does not respond to alerts to take control, such as in a medical emergency.
Modest gains in efficiency
Now, you’re noticing that we didn’t go over the slickest part of the Prius. This is where it gets a little weird.
The current model earns up to 56 mpg combined. Toyota says the new Prius, in pure hybrid form, is “the most fuel-efficient Prius ever with a factory estimated rating of 57 mpg.”
This… that’s okay.
The Toyota Corolla Hybrid is EPA-certified for 52 mpg combined driving. The current Camry Hybrid is certified for 52 mpg by the same measure.
The Prius has long been seen as the pinnacle of hybrid capability. Prius buyers have come to terms with the awkward appearance, and in some corners, the reckless image vs. fuel economy far exceeds what conventional cars can achieve.
The Prius Prime plug-in hybrid further expands the value proposition. Toyota didn’t reveal the 2023 Prius Prime’s electric-only range, saying instead that it “increases its EV’s range by more than 50% over the previous 25-mile range.”
But that number isn’t much better than other products in Toyota’s sales lot, either. The current RAV4 Prime can travel up to 42 miles on electric power alone. It’s not even clear that the upcoming Prius Prime will beat that number.
It is possible that Toyota has improved the experience behind the wheel. The 2023 Prius uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to replace the 1.8-liter model in the 2022 Prius. Combined with the hybrid electric motors, that means 194 horsepower in the front-wheel-drive (FWD) Prius models and 196 in the AWD versions. .
Toyota says the added power means a 0-60 mph time of 7.2 seconds in FWD models and 7 seconds when all four wheels are engaged.
Plug-in Prius Prime models get 220 horsepower and a 6.6-second cruise to 60 mph.
We expected the new Prius to mean a jump in performance…but that wasn’t what we had in mind. The 2023 Prius will be Toyota’s most fuel-efficient hybrid car. But hardly.
This new model looks out of character
In lieu of the next leap in fuel economy, Toyota has brought us a slicker, faster Prius that isn’t any more efficient than the model it replaces.
That’s an odd decision for a model that has historically come with more eco-friendliness than any other car. But in the age of electric vehicles, Toyota may be betting that more environmentally conscious consumers are moving to electric vehicles.
It may not be the best way to sell a Prius by trying to rip off green-conscious buyers from Tesla. Alternatively, you might try to entice Prius loyalists into buying a better-looking one.
Price will likely play a huge role in determining whether or not this approach works. Toyota says, “The price and sale date of the all-new 2023 Prius will be announced later this year.” Prime plugin details will be announced in the first half of 2023.