Like its gasoline-electric hybrid counterpart, the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid sheds its prior ugly-duckling design and becomes a proverbial swan. Lower, wider, and longer than before, the latest Prius Prime almost looks, dare we say, sporty. Complementing its new sheetmetal is a much-improved powertrain that pumps out a total of 220 horsepower—nearly 100 horses more than its predecessor. Even better, Toyota claims the latest plug-in beats the last Prime’s EPA-rated 25 miles of driving range by 19 miles. In the context of a Prius, this new Prime is both a beauty and a beast.
What’s New for 2023?
Toyota has completely redesigned the Prius Prime for 2023, giving the plug-in hybrid a new look and a thoroughly renovated chassis. Marking the second generation of the Japanese automaker’s TNGA-C architecture, the Prius Prime’s new underpinnings are reportedly more rigid, weigh less, and offer a lower center of gravity relative to the previous-generation TNGA-C bones of last year’s Prius. A larger engine works with the car’s electric motors to produce an additional 99 horsepower relative to the outgoing Prius Prime, while a new lithium-ion battery pack ought to afford the latest plug-in Prius a little less than 40 miles of all-electric driving range.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
For 2023, the LE, XLE, and Limited trims are no more. Instead, the Prius Prime now comes in SE, XSE, and XSE Premium grades, all of which reflect the model’s newfound athleticism. We’d pick the XSE, as it comes with items such as keyless entry, an automatic tailgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and heated front seats. Of course, those XSE goodies are an addition to the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a heated steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and automatic high-beam headlights that all come standard.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Last year’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is no more. In its place is a larger 160-hp 2.0-liter unit. It pairs with two electric motors: one that powers the drive wheels and another that controls a planetary gearset to mete out the gas engine’s grunt in a manner that resembles a belt-driven continuously variable automatic transmission. The result is 220 horsepower–more horsepower than a base Mazda 3, Honda Civic Si, or the Subaru Impreza. What a time to be alive. At our test track, the Prius Prime hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds when using both its gasoline and electric motors together; when using only the electric motors, it needed 11.2 seconds. The Prius Prime is a front-drive-only affair; however, Toyota may offer all-wheel-drive as an extra-cost item. If this is the case, then expect a so-equipped Prius Prime to include an additional electric motor that exclusively powers the car’s rear axle.
Range, Charging, and Battery Life
A new lithium-ion battery pack gives the Prius Prime more electric driving range from its outgoing 25 miles of EPA-rated range to as much as 44 miles. During our testing of an XSE model, we managed 33 miles of highway driving on our 75-mph highway fuel economy route before the battery depleted and the gasoline engine had to step in. Adding a charge to the Prius Prime’s battery is easier than ever, too, thanks to roof-mounted solar panels that recharge the pack when the car’s parked. Take the Prius Prime out for a drive and those solar panels send power to accessory items, such as the air-conditioning system. Alas, these solar panels are not available on the lower-end SE and XSE trims.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPGe
When relying on both its electric motors and four-cylinder engine for motivation, the 2023 Prius Prime is rated by the EPA for 50 mpg city and 47 mpg highway. In our testing, we recorded 46 mpg highway. For more information about the Prius Prime’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Prius Prime’s insides are as handsome as the car’s outsides. Sharing design cues with the bZ4X electric SUV, the Prime’s cabin features a chic wraparound dash fit with a sizeable center-mounted infotainment screen. Gone is the center-mounted gauge cluster of Priuses past. Instead, the 2023 car features a cluster mounted directly in front of the driver. Additionally, the new Prime sees its shifter move from the dash to the center console. We found the driver’s seat to offer just enough headroom, but the backseat low roof leaves even less room for heads.
Infotainment and Connectivity
An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes standard on Prius Prime SE and XSE models, though a more gargantuan 12.3-inch unit is optionally available on the latter. The big-screen system comes standard on the top-of-the-line XSE Premium, as does a premium JBL audio system. Regardless of trim, every Prius Prime includes six USB-C ports and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Toyota fits the Prius Prime with several standard driver-assistance technologies; however, items such as a surround-view camera and front and rear parking assist systems are optional. For more information about the Prius Prime’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Toyota’s warranty coverage matches up with the plans offered by much of its competition, even outdoing some competitors by including two scheduled maintenance visits within the first two years of ownership.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Hybrid components are covered for 10 years or 150,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 25,000 miles
2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE
Vehicle Type: front-engine and front-motor, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
Base/As Tested: $36,695/$37,120
Options: Supersonic Red paint, $425
DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4, 150 hp, 139 lb-ft + 2 AC motors, 161 and 94 hp (combined output: 220 hp; 10.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, C/D est; 3.5-kW onboard charger)
Transmissions: continuously variable automatic
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.0-in vented disc/11.0-in disc
Tires: Michelin Primacy All Season
195/50R-19 88H M+S
Wheelbase: 108.3 in
Length: 181.1 in
Width: 70.2 in
Height: 56.3 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 53/39 ft3
Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 27/20 ft3
Curb Weight: 3536 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS (Electric/Hybrid)
60 mph: 11.7/6.5 sec
1/4-Mile: 18.7/15.1 sec @ 75/94 mph
100 mph: 17.0 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.6/0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 11.2/6.7 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.6/2.9 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.9/4.1 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 112 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.84 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 49 MPGe
75-mph Highway Driving, EV/Hybrid Mode: 101 MPGe/46 mpg
75-mph Highway Range, EV/Hybrid mode: 33/480 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 48/50/47 mpg
Combined Gasoline + Electricity: 114 MPGe
EV Range: 39 mi