Toyota has revealed the U.S. version of the 2023 Prius hybrid and the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid.
The standard model produces either 194 or 196 horsepower, and the Prime has 220 hp.
The new Prius will go on sale in the U.S. sometime next year.
UPDATE 11/23/22: This story has been updated with additional photography of the 2023 Prius.
Every new car aims to be quicker and better-looking than its predecessor, but it wouldn't have taken much for Toyota to make such claims about the new 2023 Prius. Being slow and ugly has always been the Prius's thing—and that's not even meant as a knock against it. Slow and ugly worked for the Prius, which was a sales hit for many years and even won one of our 10Best awards in 2004. But the quintessential mass-market hybrid has fallen out of favor recently, among buyers and C/D staffers alike.
The thoroughly reworked fifth-generation Prius appears to be just the right antidote. Significantly more powerful than before, it also offers slightly better fuel economy and adds many new features including solar panels and a hands-free driving feature. And wait, it looks like that?!
The same teardrop shape remains, but the new model's smooth side surfacing, elegant detailing, and far more athletic proportions make us look back at the previous model and wonder—what happened? If the Prius could have looked like this the entire time, why didn't it? The front end features scooped-out headlights with a C-shaped LED accent light, while the rear has a full-width LED taillight strip that looks like the new Crown sedan's. Two inches lower than before and one inch wider, the Prius has a whole new stance—and seemingly a new outlook on life.
This extends to the new powertrain that bumps output up to between 194 and 220 horsepower, depending on the configuration. That's a huge uptick from the previous model's wheezy 121 hp. Toyota claims the new Prius will accelerate to 60 mph in between 6.6 and 7.2 seconds, which could make it feel like an NHRA dragster compared with the 10-plus-second runs of the previous model.
Although Toyota hasn't released detailed powertrain specs quite yet, one contributor to the newfound muscle is the 2.0-liter inline-four gasoline engine that replaces the previous 1.8-liter unit. All Priuses now use a lithium-ion battery pack that's mounted under the rear seat; the old nickel-metal-hydride pack that was still found in certain versions of the outgoing car is gone. The all-wheel-drive Prius also swaps its induction-style rear-axle-mounted motor to a new permanent-magnet synchronous unit.
A 194-hp front-wheel-drive setup is standard, and the all-wheel-drive model adds 2 hp to that total. The FWD-only Prius Prime, meanwhile, tops the range with its 220-hp plug-in setup that includes a larger lithium-ion battery that promises around 38 miles of electric driving range, compared with the previous Prime's 25-mile rating.
Despite the extra grunt, Toyota also promises an EPA combined rating of 57 mpg for the base front-wheel-drive LE model with its 17-inch wheels. That's one better than the outgoing 2022 Prius Eco's 56-mpg rating, although adding AWD and opting for the XLE and Limited models' larger 19-inch wheels will likely drop that number somewhat.
Unlike before, the Prime plug-in doesn't offer much visual differentiation from the standard car (fortunately, they both look good now). But now that it's the most powerful Prius, Toyota is pitching it as the sporty one, as it'll be offered only in SE, XSE, and XSE Premium trim levels. The standard car will have LE, XLE, and Limited models, just like before.
While the lower trims aren't anything fancy—they lack power seats, feature a relatively small 8.0-inch touchscreen, and will likely look dumpier on their 17-inch wheels—the Limited and XSE Premium models introduce some novel tech goodies and convenience features. A huge 12.3-inch touchscreen comes on board in the upper trims, along with a power liftgate, and a digital rearview mirror is optional. The Prime will offer solar panels for its glass roof that juice up the battery while the car is stationary to help power accessory functions and the air conditioning. Also exclusively optional on the Prime is a Traffic Jam Assist function that allows the driver to go hands-free under certain circumstances under 25 mph.
We're expecting Toyota to raise the price somewhat on the Prius, but the base model should still come in under $30,000. Top versions will likely exceed $40,000—but maybe that's not such a stretch thanks to the Prius's newfound swiftness, high-end features, and, most of all, its undeniable curb appeal.
This story was originally published November 16, 2022.
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