The 2023 Toyota Prius is cool. Put those pitchforks away and hear me out.
The times are changing, but the redesigned Toyota Prius looks like the car of the future. Despite not being electric, the Prius feels like a feasible and logical way forward without looking dorky as we transition to lower emissions and more miles per gallon, until we’ll no longer use gallons.
The 2023 Toyota Prius looks great, is now pretty quick (for a Prius), and still sips fuel, adding up to a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. Sure, the good-looking design is a bit compromising, Toyota provides a big screen that can’t perform two functions at once, and its cabin is both cheap and not well insulated from the road, but these are things I could live with.
I spent a week running errands and taking a road trip with the family to uncover the pros and cons of the 2023 Toyota Prius.
Pro: The Toyota Prius looks cool now
From every angle the latest Prius looks good. A low hood, raked windshield, and nicely tapered rear with a stubby rear hatch provide a sharp profile. There are no weird elements like fangs, an egg-shaped roofline, or slab sides here as with the past; the striking front lighting that hooks around the hood looks like nothing else on the road. Even the dashboard looks a bit futuristic with a gauge cluster that’s far set forward by the windshield similar to that of the electric bZ4X. Refreshing and different, the Prius looks like the future even if it’s not all-electric.
Con: Toyota Prius design compromises (some) functionality
That steeply raked windshield and A-pillars make getting in and out of the Prius harder than in the past, and if you aren’t careful you might whack your head, like I did. Ingress and egress to the rear seat is worse than in the past due to the rear roofline, loading kids in car seats will be more of a chore, and my kid hated the inset rear door handles hidden by the C-pillar (a design implemented to help cheat aerodynamics in the name of efficiency). Inside, for some inexplicable reason, just like the 2023 Highlander crossover SUV, the volume knob is mounted on the passenger side of the 12.3-inch touchscreen. It’s a far reach for the driver, though not as far as in the Highlander due to the Prius being a narrower vehicle. The hatchback’s rear cargo space checks in at 20.3 cubic feet, but it’s down 7.0 cubic feet from the last Prius due to its svelte design and packaging.
Pro: Toyota Prius is kinda quick now
Under the hood of the Prius now sits a 2.0-liter inline-4 paired with an electric motor for a combined output of 194 hp. That’s a whopping 73 hp more than the last Prius. Toyota said the Prius can run 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which feels accurate, if not a little conservative. That’s 2.6 seconds quicker to 60 mph than its predecessor. With the electric motor’s instant torque the Prius can move off the line like no model bearing the name before it. Far from boring, it borders on quick and never feels down on power. It’s no sports car, but it’s entertaining enough and satisfies for a daily driver.
Con: Toyota Prius can’t split screen
While base models feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen, most Prius buyers will find a 12.3-inch touchscreen crowning the dashboard. It’s a large screen, but lacks split-screen functionality. That’s a big screen for one function. Who needs this much map or, worse, a dial pad to make a phone call on Apple CarPlay? It just looks silly and isn’t a good use of screen real estate.
Pro: Toyota Prius sets fuel economy bar
It wouldn’t be a Prius if this hatchback didn’t get exceptional fuel economy, and the latest model doesn’t disappoint. The EPA rates it at 52 mpg city, 52 highway, and 52 combined. While I didn’t fully see those numbers, I was impressed by an average of 46.1 mpg around town in mixed driving and 46.7 mpg on a highway road trip with the cruise control set above 70 mph.
Con: Toyota Prius is loud, thin, and cheap feeling
The Prius looks great inside and out, but the materials are thin and cheap and it’s loud inside. On the highway it’s clear there’s a lack of sound deadening, and there’s a surprising amount of wind noise coming off those steeply raked A-pillars. Worse, my $38,019 Limited model’s fake leather covered the seats and center armrest, but there was no padding on the center armrest. It was just hard plastic under that fake leather. The door panels were covered in hard plastic despite looking like they have soft-touch material on them. It all feels like a thin veneer that looks nice but dims once touched.
Starting at $28,545, the 2023 Toyota Prius is as efficient and affordable as it is attractive. The loaded Limited model feels a touch pricey, but its style and features combined with real-world efficiency deliver a 1-2-3 punch that makes the Prius desirable like never before. It’s a brave new world where the Prius is both cool and actually good looking.
2023 Toyota Prius Limited
Base price: $28,545, including $1,095 destination
Price as tested: $38,019
Powertrain: 194-hp hybrid, front-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 52/52/52 mpg
The hits: Looks cool, crazy fuel economy, reasonably quick for a Prius
The misses: Feels somewhat cheap, compromised due to design, big screen can’t be split
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