LOS ANGELES — In the midst of the fully-electric revolution, Toyota’s original green machine, the Prius, has seemingly faded into the background. The current model has lingered since the 2016 model year. But now the hybrid hatch is getting a completely new generation. The 2023 Prius and Prius Prime look better, go faster, and are more efficient than ever before.
The design is clearly even more focused on decreasing drag, and doing so in a dramatic way. That raked windshield and nose gives the new Prius a profile that’s more Lamborghini than Land Cruiser. The whole body is much less busy and awkward than the current car, too. It also adopts unusual features such as the hidden rear door handles, which helps give the car a pseudo-two-door look. The car is lower and wider, too; the roof is 2 inches lower, and the car is an inch wider overall. The new car is also built on the second-generation TNGA-C platform, which is also used by Corolla. That means it has a MacPherson strut front suspension and a double-wishbone rear.
The interior is a blend of current Toyota design, as well as some bits from the bZ4X. It features the much-improved Toyota Audio Multimedia infotainment system. The standard screen is 8 inches, and a 12.3-inch unit is available on higher trim levels. Ahead of the driver is an instrument screen mounted far ahead like in the bZ4X. That has also enabled Toyota to use a smaller steering wheel like in the EV. The dash does lack some of the unique details such as the cloth coverings.
The sportier, cleaner looks are combined with much more punchy powertrains. All Prius models now feature a larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder coupled with an electric motor at the front, and they’re all basically identical, but tuned differently for different outputs. They all get lithium-ion battery packs, which are located under the rear seat. The basic front-wheel-drive Prius makes 194 horsepower, and the all-wheel-drive model with its additional rear motor makes 196 horsepower. Toyota estimates the front-drive car will hit 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, and the all-wheel-drive one will do it in 7 seconds. Toyota also notes that the most efficient version of the conventional Prius will get 57 mpg combined, topping the outgoing model by 1.
The Prius Prime plug-in is the powerhouse of the family making 220 horsepower. That’s good for an estimated 6.6-second time to 60 mph. The Prime doesn’t have an all-wheel-drive option, but it does have a number of unique features not available on the regular Prius. The primary one being the plug-in capability. Toyota says the Prime has 50% more range than the outgoing car, which would come to around 37 miles. Fuel economy hasn’t been announced yet, though. Other unique Prime features include available solar panels on the roof that can top off the battery or power accessories, as well as additional sensors that enable lane-change assist, front-cross-traffic alert, automated parking and hands-free traffic jam assist (under 25 mph). The Prime will even have a household power outlet that can provide up to 1,500 watts of electricity for household appliances.
On the regular Prius, the trim levels are as follows: LE, XLE and Limited. The Prime’s trims are SE, XSE and XSE Premium. Features are fairly similar across each model, with the exception of some of the Prime exclusives mentioned above. The LE comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels with wheel covers, a faux leather-wrapped steering wheel, an 8-inch infotainment screen and blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The Prime SE adds rain-sensing wipers and the low-speed traffic jam assist. The XLE includes 19-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver seat, faux leather upholstery, auto-dimming mirrors, parking sensors, proximity key, rain sensing wipers and wireless phone charging. The Prime XSE adds to that clear taillights. The Limited and Prime XSE Premium comes with the 12.3-inch infotainment screen, JBL audio system, glass roof, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and a memory driver seat.
The Prius and Prius Prime will go on sale next year. Pricing and availability of the former will be announced by the end of the year, and details on the Prime will come in the first half of next year.