The Toyota Prius is many issues — environment friendly, smart and, with more moderen examples, fairly roomy — however fascinating (and, arguably, handsome), it’s not. Not less than, till now. Toyota pulled the wraps off the completely redesigned 2023 Prius on the eve of the LA Auto Present, and for as soon as, the eco warrior’s favourite hybrid does not appear to be an egg or rejected Gundam character. However the automobile’s new look does power some compromises, which we found on our first drive and subsequent week spent with the hybrid.
The disco spaceship styling is joined by vital enhancements to the Prius’ powertrain and cabin. The final Prius made a measly 121 horsepower, however a bigger gasoline engine and extra highly effective electrical motors bump that quantity as much as practically 200 horsepower. Not will the Prius be synonymous with torpid acceleration. Here is all the things we all know.
What’s underneath the Prius’ hood?
Like its predecessors, the Prius’ powertrain pairs a four-cylinder engine with an electrical motor. The engine grows in displacement from 1.8 to 2.0 liters, however much more notable is that the nickel hydride battery pack is lastly changed by a extra superior lithium-ion unit. Which means extra power density and a smaller, lighter pack.
In sensible phrases, these enhancements imply that the 2023 Toyota Prius will get an enormous bump in energy. Final yr’s fourth-generation Prius produced a complete of 121 system horsepower between the engine and motor, whereas the brand new one makes a wholesome 194 hp in front-wheel-drive guise. Go for all-wheel drive and output climbs to 196 hp. Toyota says the FWD Prius can speed up from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, with the AWD model clocking in at 7.0 seconds flat. That is a darn sight faster than the ten.7-second time managed by FWD variations of the final Prius in Edmunds’ testing. The AWD system will get vital enhancements; within the final Prius, the rear motor would solely intervene if the entrance wheels misplaced traction. Now, the rear motor (which grows from providing 7 hp to 40 hp) helps out when sprinting off the road and while you press the accelerator throughout freeway merges or when passing.
How does the Prius drive?
Although the previous Prius was notoriously sluggish, I’ve at all times thought that its preliminary acceleration was first rate in metropolis driving due to the electrical motor serving to it to get began. The brand new Prius is way the identical method; there is a burst of energy from the motors/battery to get you going however now as an alternative of really fizzling out, the transition into gasoline/blended energy is easy and the Prius pulls arduous as much as freeway speeds. In comparison with many different compact automobiles, the Prius can now rightly be thought-about on the faster aspect of the spectrum — a improvement that is stunning to say the least.
The lithium-ion battery does not simply push out extra energy; it is also higher at taking it in. On a pair of lengthy drives I did within the Prius and on our real-world testing loop the place I ran the automobile in its Regular drive mode, the battery maintained roughly a two-thirds cost stage your complete time, which means that in slower visitors or within the metropolis there was at all times loads of juice for some short-term EV driving.
Suspension updates have additionally modified the Prius for the higher. It rides nicely over damaged pavement and has glorious cabin isolation, a giant change from the final automobile the place any bumps would make you are feeling just like the automobile would possibly break aside round you. The steering continues to be numb, but it surely does a fantastic job monitoring straight and turn-in feels fairly sharp (or sharper than you’d count on in a Prius).
How comfy is the Prius?
The brand new entrance seats are purported to lower drive fatigue, and although they do not supply adjustable thigh assist they appear to do an excellent job. The seats are on the agency aspect however remained comfy even for three- or four-hour drives.
Issues are a lot much less optimistic while you get to the again seat, nonetheless. Legroom has grown, however the Prius’ new swept roofline cuts into rear headroom. Passengers over 6 toes tall will discover their haircuts getting acquainted with the headliner briefly order. The rear door openings have additionally shrunk, so you need to duck down fairly a bit to get into the cabin. Mix this with a scarcity of rear air vents and compromised sight strains for rear passengers, and people Uber/taxi rides are going to get much less comfy for the following few years.
How’s the Prius’ inside?
Inside, the styling is extra standard and which means there isn’t any extra funky centrally mounted gauge cluster. As a substitute, the brand new Prius includes a low sprint with a touchscreen perched on prime. Beneath the display is a row of bodily HVAC buttons — a welcome inclusion as extra producers transfer to touchscreen-only controls. Toyota die-hards would possibly, in reality, acknowledge the steering wheel/IP combo as ripped straight from the all-electric bZ4X. This is not an excellent factor. The cluster loves to cover proper behind the highest rim of the steering wheel — the one method I might see it was to drop the wheel down 2-3 inches, and that made discovering a cushty driving place troublesome.
Supplies have improved, although the Prius will not be confused for something premium or luxurious. There is not a lot of a distinction in inside high quality between the XLE and the Restricted, giving the XLE much more enchantment. (Each have artificial leather-based upholstery.) The position of the obtainable wi-fi charging pad is superb — as an alternative of taking over cupboard space, it will get its personal slot subsequent to the shifter that is simple to succeed in. There’s only one catch: Charging in an enclosed house generates warmth so your telephone does get fairly sizzling. Different automakers are beginning to add followers or different cooling to those pads and Toyota would profit from following go well with.
Just like the again seat, the cargo space will not be what it was. The final Prius provided near-SUV ranges of cargo room with 27.4 cubic toes, however that is dropped all the way in which down to twenty.3 cubic toes within the XLE/Restricted fashions we drove. That is nonetheless greater than a standard sedan with a trunk, but it surely’s disappointing for the Prius. The cargo opening itself has additionally shrunk noticeably, making it tougher to suit huge gadgets in; for instance, a set of golf golf equipment that was simply swallowed by the last-generation automobile does not match within the new one.
How’s the Prius’ tech?
The 2023 mannequin severely steps up the Prius’ tech cred — a mandatory step for the reason that present Prius’ touchscreen interface is severely dated. Two sizes are provided: a regular 8-inch display and a 12.3-inch unit that’s optionally available on the XLE and commonplace on Restricted fashions. The UI is similar to that on the bZ4X, in addition to the brand new Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV, with a handy guide a rough interface that’s rather more intuitive and engaging than that on the outgoing mannequin. To that finish, the Prius will function wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as commonplace gear. Elective upgrades embody a wi-fi charging pad, Wi-Fi hotspot, an eight-speaker JBL audio system, and creature comforts like heated and ventilated seats and a panoramic roof.
Each 2023 Prius comes with the Toyota Security Sense 3.0 suite of driving aids, which incorporates pre-collision warning and braking, lane departure alert, adaptive cruise management and the brand new Proactive Driving Help function, detailed under. Additionally commonplace is a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic warning. Entrance and rear parking sensors with automated braking can be found on the LE and are included while you improve to the XLE. Rounding out the listing of driving aids are a hands-free parking system and a 360-degree parking digicam, each of that are optionally available on the top-dog Restricted.
Toyota has finished a fantastic job calibrating these driver aids. The adaptive cruise management accelerates and brakes easily, whereas the lane maintaining facilities the automobile nicely so it is not ping-ponging between the lane strains. Proactive Driving Help gives refined hints to the motive force, so if visitors in entrance of you slows the Prius can even start to decelerate till the motive force takes over the braking. It additionally flashes a refined LED strip within the sprint if visitors in entrance of you begins to tug away. It would be simple for a system like this to be overbearing and annoying, but it surely toes the road of being informative with out being pushy completely. If solely aunts in all places might take be aware.
How economical is the Prius?
On our real-world testing loop, our front-wheel-drive Restricted tester achieved an noticed 52.3 mpg, narrowly beating its EPA-estimated 52 mpg mixed mark. That is a powerful determine given the rise in horsepower for the powertrain. Toyota estimates the entry-level LE mannequin will obtain 57 mpg within the EPA’s mixed cycle — a 1 mpg bump from the final era’s base L Eco trim. Larger trim ranges with the bigger 19-inch wheels take an mpg hit, all the way down to 52 mpg mixed, and choosing all-wheel drive knocks these numbers down by 3 mpg, respectively.