It was bizarre. After I rounded the nook, a man strolling down the road stopped all of the sudden, whipped out his cellphone, and began performing like a paparazzo, taking footage of my take a look at automobile prefer it was an excellent star. Add this incident to the to the variety of thumbs-up indicators my take a look at automobile scored, and also you’d suspect I used to be driving one thing uncommon and unique. However I wasn’t. I used to be driving a 2023 Toyota Prius…one thing decidedly un-exotic.
Sure, it’s all-new for the 2023 mannequin 12 months. And, sure, it has a radically new svelte form. However it was nonetheless a Prius. Simply goes to indicate eco-chic may be ultra-cool. However there’s greater than a brand new look occurring right here.
Past the clearly reimagined new design, essentially the most important modifications to Toyota’s stalwart fuel-saver come beneath the hood. Changing a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine is a brand new 2.0-liter unit mated to a pair of electrical motors. The brand new arrange delivers a mixed output of as much as 196 horsepower on all-wheel-drive fashions, and 194 horsepower on front-wheel-drive fashions. That’s a whopping 60-percent energy improve over the outgoing mannequin, which delivered a mixed 121 horsepower.
Toyota had each the brand new and previous Prii (Prii, by the best way, is the precise, official, brand-approved plural of Prius) available for back-to-back assessments, and as you’d think about the facility improve is clear. The place the 2022 mannequin may need felt sluggish and uninspired, the 2023 Prius was clean and lightweight on its ft. The hybrid engine/motor interaction, which may be balky, was usually seamless. From a metropolis woman’s perspective, this new Toyota hybrid might be potent sufficient for freeway merges and passing maneuvers, however nonetheless refined sufficient for clean city drives.
The great thing about Prius hybrid system is that you simply take pleasure in each energy and effectivity, partly as a result of each motor-generators are employed to cost the lithium-ion battery throughout braking and durations of sunshine engine demand. The Electronically Managed Brake (ECB) system, as Toyota calls it, helps to make the 2023 Prius the most-efficient iteration of the mannequin up to now.
About that effectivity: Toyota is touting the automobile’s 57-mpg EPA mixed estimate, which is spectacular, however that’s for the bottom front-drive LE mannequin on normal 17-inch wheels. Go for a mid-level XLE, or top-trim Restricted outfitted with AWD, and your mileage drops to only 49 mpg—which continues to be fairly spectacular. Just a few extra numbers: a base LE with AWD is, in accordance with the EPA, is nice for 54 mpg, and front-drive variations of the XLE and Restricted 52 mpg.
My test-drive alternatives didn’t permit for any actual fuel-economy evaluations, however each car I sampled reported mileage within the 45-48 mpg vary. Particularly spectacular given the calls for of a media take a look at drive.
Whereas the automobile’s new design, clean energy, and gasoline economic system impress, not everyone seems to be taken with the gauge cluster. Just like the setup in Toyota’s new all-electric bZ4X compact crossover, the cluster within the Prius seems on a slim triangular panel that juts up over the sprint in entrance of the motive force. The web impact is much less like viewing a standard instrument cluster, and extra like watching a head-up show.
This labored effectively sufficient for me, however taller drivers complained that the steering wheel prime bisected the cluster, obscuring the devices. That is undoubtedly a type of “strive it before you purchase it” conditions, and a reminder of the worth of an intensive take a look at drive.
The remainder of the inside is just designed with minimalist horizontal strains. You could have buttons in your local weather controls, and a quantity knob (hurray!), however radio tuning comes by means of the touchscreen.
The brand new Prius infotainment system is just like the one we’ve seen within the Toyota Tundra, GR Corolla, and bZ4X, and it contains wi-fi Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, in addition to a strong base of voice prompts for navigation and different hands-free controls.
Whereas I like just about all the pieces in regards to the inside, there’s one massive miss, and that’s the accessible wi-fi charger. Toyota did a pleasant job with the design and site, however the issue is that it overheats your cellphone (to the purpose of sluggishness, however not shut-down failure) in lower than half-hour.
Earlier than you shrug your shoulders and say, that’s simply what wi-fi chargers do, I’ll level out that I’ve pushed a number of Normal Motors take a look at automobiles that put a cool pad beneath the wi-fi charger, and that in these automobiles my cellphone not solely costs sooner, but additionally stays cooler.
For 2023, Prius drops the bottom L Eco trim and dives proper into the LE. Pricing, together with vacation spot, and key options for every trim are as follows:
LE ($28,545): 17-inch permit wheels, 8-inch infotainment display screen, 6-way adjustable cloth entrance seats in black or grey, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
XLE ($31,990): 19-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming rearview mirror, driver and front-passenger heated seats, heated steering wheel, 8-way energy driver’s seat, leatherette seating surfaces, rain-sensing wipers, passive entry, wi-fi cellphone charger, front-and-rear parking help with automated braking. Choices embody: 12.3-inch infotainment display screen, fastened glass roof, digital key.
Restricted ($35,560): 12.3-inch infotainment display screen, JBL premium audio with 8 audio system, fastened glass roof, driver and front-passenger ventilated seats, 8-way energy driver’s seat with reminiscence, digital key, energy again door. Choices embody 360-degree monitor, digital rearview mirror, heated rear seats, superior park help.
All-wheel drive is a $1,400 add on prime of those costs.
Base mannequin to base mannequin, the 2023 Prius is $2375 dearer that the ’22. However, LE to LE, the brand new automobile is up simply $1165. For a very new mannequin with extra energy, numerous new know-how, and attractive (yep, I’m saying it) beauty, the 2023 Prius is effectively definitely worth the asking worth.
Although Toyota revealed the next-gen 2023 Prius on the LA Auto Present, it gained’t be accessible in sellers till June.
2023 Toyota Prius Gallery
(Click on under for enlarged pictures