2023 Toyota Prius Aims to Dominate Hybrid Market—More than Ever

With some help from its plug-in sibling, the Prius Prime.

  • The Toyota Prius is all-new for 2023, with a new chassis, drivetrain, and features across the hybrid family.
  • Based on the TNGA-C platform, both the Prius and Prius Prime share a futuristic, aerodynamic design, backed up by a significant increase in electrified 2.0-liter four-cylinder power, up to 196 hp and 220 hp, respectively.
  • All-wheel drive is now an option on the Prius, while the Prius Prime gets a solar panel charging roof and semi-autonomous traffic jam capabilities, with both models having significant technology and safety package upgrades as well.

    Toyota has faced criticism for a slow approach to the industry shift towards fully electric vehicles, but Toyota plans to stay its course for the time being. Just over two decades ago, the Toyota Prius was launched, and by metrics of sales, efficiency, and practicality has been a resounding success for the brand. Now, the company's first BEV, the bZ4x, has finally returned to service following a series of recalls, and its hybrid SUV models are selling better than ever—surpassing traditional ICE versions in some cases.

    The roofline of the new Prius is two inches lower than the previous generation’s sloped hatch.

    With that in mind, it's no surprise that Toyota is sticking with its hybrid strategy for now. And what better way to continue its momentum than re-vamping the most notable version, with the 2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime being launched at the 2022 LA Auto Show? Pricing and date of sale details have yet to be released, but we expect the models to go on sale in early-to-mid 2023.

    Visually striking is an understatement when comparing the new Prius and Prius Prime to its somewhat bland, wedge-shaped precursors. Both models are built on a second-generation version of Toyota's TNGA-C platform, shared with models like the Corolla and Lexus UX, which has a significantly lower and wider stance than the previous platform. And the performance details of the new Prius family are even more exciting than its aerodynamic makeover.

    The Prius Prime could join the ranks of electrified Toyota products that beat out their ICE counterparts in sales, such as the RAV4 Prime.

    Available in three trim levels (LE, XLE, and Limited), the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplant will be standard across Prius levels, making 194 hp in front-drive form thanks to its fifth generation hybrid powertrain and newly developed rear-seat mounted lithium-ion batteries. This new electrification system accounts for a 15% increase in output compared to the previous nickel-metal battery, in addition to reducing weight. A 2 hp bump is available if you opt for the new Electronic On-Demand all-wheel-drive system, which functions through a high-output Interior Permanent Magnet motor driving the rear wheels. Not that anyone is counting, but the FWD and AWD models jog to a 0-60 mph time of 7.2-seconds and 7.0-seconds, respectively.

    Normal, Eco, and Sport drive modes are available, with the main differences being the level of accelerator pressure and accompanying mileage or performance benefits. Combining drive modes and a new powertrain, Toyota says this will be the most efficient Prius ever, with an optimal 57 mpg in front-drive trim.

    Both the Prius and Prius Prime will be available with a 12.3-inch audio multimedia touchscreen, with dual-phone Bluetooth connectivity and wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

    Its larger sibling, the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime, will be available in three trims as well, sold as SE, XSE, and XSE Premium. The Prius Prime uses the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but it produces 220 hp and a 50% increase in range over the previous generation's 25-miles of all-electric range. That means we should see around 38 miles of battery electric range. This range is augmented by a solar roof in the Prius Prime, which can charge the battery while the vehicle is parked or provide supplemental power to features like air conditioning.

    Adding on the optional Advanced Park system will help drivers maneuver hands-free into tight spaces, like the Euro-centric one shown here.

    While there are subtle differences in the powertrains and trim levels of the Prius and the Prius Prime, it's worth noting their technology and safety packages are largely similar. Toyota has invested heavily into making the Prius not only drive new but also feel new inside. Features like over-the-air updates and Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) systems are standard, while Intelligent AI Assistance and a panoramic view monitor are available. Audiophiles will also enjoy the optional eight-speaker JBL premium audio system.

    Toyota has included a new suite of driver assistance technology as standard in both models. Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 will include dynamic radar cruise control, lane-tracing assist, and proactive driving assist. That last feature is particularly interesting, allowing the car to independently brake and steer to avoid pedestrians, cyclists, and other road-goers.

    Charging through the Prius Prime

    Traffic jam assist is another new feature for Toyota and is only offered with the Prius Prime, not the regular Prius. Functioning in tandem with the radar cruise control and lane-keep assistance, the system can maintain hands-free acceleration, braking, and steering through traffic under 25 mph, if the proper conditions are met. Once traffic begins to flow again, drivers will be alerted to drive manually. Advanced park is another Prius Prime standard feature, though it is available on XLE trim Prius models. In short, the system allows for hands-free parallel parking, backing into a perpendicular parking space, and exiting a spot as well.

    Altogether, a new generation of a 21-year-old model is a sign of the immense trust Toyota has not only in the nameplate but in the new hybrid technology too. The move towards fully electric models is one that manufacturers across the world are investing full efforts into—and which Toyota has barely participated—but betting on hybrid technology is a safer short-term move. Reaping the benefits of government regulations, increased efficiency, and an easier consumer transition from ICE could be in Toyota's favor.

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