Flash Drive: 2023 Toyota Prius Hybrid
The Top-Selling Hybrid Gets a Makeover
If new, improved and better are what make you happy in life, then the all-new 2023 Toyota Prius could be what you are looking for. The Toyota Prius has come a long way since it debuted 22 years ago, as the second hybrid car to be sold in the United States (after the first generation Honda Insight). Its worldwide sales top 6+ million, demonstrating its popularity.
Toyota assembled members of the media in Del Mar, California in early December, for the first drives of what turns-out to be a significantly different Prius from the current model. Look for a full Road Test review soon on Clean Fleet Report. Until then, this Flash Drive is an introduction to the 2023 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 all-wheel drive (AWD). Both are mated to a 2.0-liter gasoline engine, running on 87 octane, with a lithium-ion battery that replaces the nickel-metal 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 and increased driving range. The wheels are driven by an automatic transmission with three driver-selectable drive modes of Normal, Eco and Sport.
In a few unofficial runs, the Prius AWD we were driving, with dual motors and 196 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, did 0-60 mph in about 7.0 seconds. Toyota lists the Prius FWD with a single motor going 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is 2.6 seconds faster than the outgoing model. These times are plenty fast to merge onto freeways and pass big rigs.
Toyota has rated the 2023 Prius hybrid at between 50 and 57 miles per gallon (mpg), with the higher range for the FWD models. The Prius hybrid utilizes regenerative braking, which converts kinetic energy into electricity when braking or coasting, and returns it to the battery for later use. In our short time driving the Prius AWD, the fuel economy dash meter was reading 54 mpg. When Clean Fleet Report has the Prius for a week we will report real world fuel economy, but we already know this is a very efficient car.
Driving Impressions: Hitting the Road
A couple hours behind the wheel at the media launch event was all we needed to feel the improvements to the 2023 Toyota Prius. Our time was spent on dry pavement negotiating San Diego County highways and city traffic. Once a bit outside of town, there were wide open country roads that allowed us to push the speed on corners to test the dual motors AWD system and Toyota’s front-rear torque distribution system.
Utilizing wheel speed sensors and G-force sensors, the Prius computer system sends electrical signals to the rear motor to control the rear wheel torque. Experimenting at different speeds and corners with different levels of severity, this system could be felt adding grip at crucial times as well as reducing understeer, or pushing, so finding the corner apex was never a problem. The 3,340-pound weight never produced body roll, and the 195/50 all-season tires on 20-inch alloy wheels provided confidence-building grip.
Staying clear of hyperbole and overstating what Toyota designers have done with the 2023 Prius, this is without argument the best-looking Prius of all time. Aesthetically pleasing with a longer and wider stance, the profile is one connected sweeping line from the tip of the hood to the rear spoiler. The first time it is seen up-close produces a mild gasp, not necessarily just for the design, but the realization Toyota could have done this years ago. Rather than describe the design, take a few minutes to look at the photos and get a grasp of what this truly “all-new Prius” has to offer. When you see it in person, the experience will start all over again.
The 2023 Prius is available in three trim levels of LE, XLE and Limited, with options and feature packages available for each grade. Color options will be Wind Chill Pearl, Cutting Edge, Guardian Gray, Black, Supersonic Red or Reservoir Blue.
The lower stance results in a lower driving position, which adds an air of sportiness. Front visibility is good, but the swept-back windshield design creates a minor A-pillar blindspot. Rearward, the bifurcated rear window has been nixed in the new design, replaced with a one piece glass resulting in better visibility.
The interior is clean and uncomplicated, with controls within easy reach for the driver. The dash features two screens: a 7-inch multi-information gauge display located behind the steering wheel, and either an 8-inch (LE) or 12.3-inch (XLE and Limited) multimedia display. The multimedia system includes navigation and SiriusXM/AM/FM radio with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A JBL Premium Audio System with eight speakers and an amplifier is standard on the Limited. The audio system usability would have been improved with a channel knob to accompany the volume knob. USB ports and Wi-Fi Connect, with an AT&T hotspot, are standard on all models.
Wireless phone charging is standard on the XLE and Limited grades, but not available on the LE. The fixed glass roof is optional on the XLE grade.
The seats are trimmed in fabric on the LE but get SofTex synthetic leather on the XLE and Limited. The fronts are heated and ventilated (on the LImited only) with power adjustments on the two upper grades. The rear seats are heated on the Limited grade only. As with previous Prius models, three adults can fit in the 60/60 folding back seat, where they get cup holders. When Clean Fleet Report has the 2023 Prius for a week or more, we will report on the seat comfort after driving for a few hours.
The 2023 Prius is equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) of the Star Safety System and Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. Active and passive safety features include eight air bags, vehicle stability and traction control, brake assist and blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. The advanced driver pre-collision technology includes lane departure alert, adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection. Additional safety features include remote keyless entry, push button start/stop, automated parallel parking and a tire pressure monitoring system.
- Comprehensive – Three years/36,000 miles
- Powertrain – Five years/60,000 miles
- Hybrid Components – Eight years/100,000 miles
Pricing and Availability
There are three trims, with these base prices including the mandatory $1,095 delivery fee.
- Limited – $35,560 (FWD)
The 2023 Prius is arriving in North America dealers in early December 2022.
Observations: 2023 Toyota Prius Hybrid
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 and aerodynamic high mileage and very appealing hybrid car. The features on the 2023 Prius make it highly desirable, especially for taking long, fuel efficient road trips.
If the Prius over the years has not been a consideration due to its design, those days are now over. Go into your local Toyota dealer and take the completely redesigned Prius for a lengthy test drive, getting a feel for its performance, handling and interior comfort. If you value spending as little as possible at the gas station, the 2023 Prius should be added to your shopping list.
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Toyota.
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected].