buying: Redesigned 2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime Boast Improved Fuel Economy and Acceleration

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The sleeker design wraps around a more conventional dash and allows for more cargo space

  Redesigned 2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime Boast Improved Fuel Economy and Acceleration © Provided by Consumer Reports

2023 Toyota Prius

By Keith Barry

When you hear the word “hybrid,” chances are the Toyota Prius comes to mind. But even though hybrids have been growing in popularity, Prius sales have slumped as buyers flock to pure EVs like the Tesla Model 3 and hybrid SUVs instead. It’s a shame because we’ve always thought the Prius is one of the best options out there for car buyers who prioritize practical, economical, and reliable transportation.

For 2023, Toyota is giving the Prius hybrid and the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid an impressive makeover inside and out. Gone are the angular exterior and double-digit 0 to 60 mph times, replaced by a streamlined look and plenty of power. A plethora of advanced safety and driver assistance features come standard, too.

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And, of course, there’s a focus on fuel economy. Toyota estimates that the new Prius will get an astounding 57 mpg combined. At Consumer Reports, we do our own fuel economy testing rather than taking a manufacturer’s word for it, but if the 2023 Prius scores anywhere near the automaker’s estimate, it would be the most efficient hybrid we’ve evaluated.

What it competes with: Honda CR-V Hybrid, Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, Kia Niro, Toyota Corolla Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Powertrain: 196-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission; front- or all-wheel drive.

Price: $26,000-$34,000 (estimated).

On sale: 2023

  Redesigned 2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime Boast Improved Fuel Economy and Acceleration © Provided by Consumer Reports

The interior of the 2023 Toyota Prius is relatively straightforward, with physical buttons complementing the touchscreen.

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Photo: Toyota

CR's Take

Aside from fuel efficiency, practicality was always the selling point of the Prius. We’re not sure how a lowered roofline will affect cargo space and headroom, but we’re glad to see the new car addresses complaints about the prior version with more power and a relatively straightforward interior design. The updates might not be enough to sway buyers away from SUVs, but they sure promise a better Prius.

  Redesigned 2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime Boast Improved Fuel Economy and Acceleration © Provided by Consumer Reports

The overall height of the 2023 Toyota Prius is 2 inches lower than the 2022 model.

Photo: Toyota

Outside

The new look walks back the angry-faced look that the hybrid has sported since 2016. Instead, the new model is smooth and sleek with a sharklike nose and an optional panoramic sunroof that blends into the hatchback’s rear glass.

The rear door handles are hidden at the back of the rear window glass, a design choice that we didn’t appreciate on the Toyota CH-R because rear passengers may need to be coached on their operation. The last thing you need when you’re picking up your in-laws at the airport is to have to teach an introductory seminar on door opening.

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Toyota says the new Prius’ overall design has a lower center of gravity than its predecessor, and a new battery design (more on that later) makes a greater cargo capacity. The car is an inch wider with a 2-inch lower roofline. Toyota didn’t provide any details about interior space, but photos of the rear seat sure look like the chopped roof cuts into headroom for rear passengers. If that’s true, it’s too bad because the Prius’ arched roof always made for a spacious cabin. Stay tuned for our full evaluation when we purchase and test a Prius of our own as soon as it goes on sale.

The Prius Prime offers an optional solar roof that can help recharge the car’s battery and run certain accessories. This feature has been available in Japan on previous Priuses.

  Redesigned 2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime Boast Improved Fuel Economy and Acceleration © Provided by Consumer Reports

The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime plugs in for extra electric-only range. Toyota says it gets 50 percent more electric miles than its predecessor.

Photo: Toyota

Inside

Unlike prior Priuses, the 2023 model has less of a spaceship interior. While the podlike instrument panel and steering wheel are similar to the all-electric bZ4X, the rest of the dashboard wouldn’t look out of place in a more pedestrian Corolla. Conveniently, there’s a volume knob on the infotainment system and hard buttons for frequently used functions. The Prius’ gear selector moves to the center console between the front seats, but it still operates like a joystick as on previous versions.

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Higher trim level versions get a larger touchscreen, wireless phone charging, a digital rearview mirror, and heated rear seats.

  Redesigned 2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime Boast Improved Fuel Economy and Acceleration © Provided by Consumer Reports

We're eager to assess the rear headroom in the 2023 Toyota Prius.

Photo: Toyota

What Drives It

The Prius gets a more efficient battery and a more powerful engine for 2023. Both the Prius and Prius Prime have a lithium-ion battery powering an electric motor that works with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. The outgoing Prius had a heavier nickel-metal hydride battery and a 1.8-liter engine. Toyota hasn’t shared more powertrain details, but all Toyota hybrids use a similar eCVT.

Prius buyers can opt for an all-wheel drive version, which adds an additional electric motor that sends power to the rear wheels when accelerating from a stop or driving on a slippery surface.

By Toyota’s estimates, the Prius should be EPA-rated at 57 mpg combined. The new Prius Prime should get at least a 50 percent longer all-electric range. The EPA estimates that the current Prius gets 22 miles per charge before it transitions to regular hybrid operation.

Toyota says the new powertrain is the reason the Prius Prime can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds. The AWD Prius can do that sprint in 7 seconds, and the FWD model can do it in 7.2 seconds. Although 0 to 60 times don’t tell the whole story about how a car performs, it’s heartening to see Toyota give the Prius some much-needed oomph. The last model we tested clocked in at a glacial 10.3 seconds.

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Hybrids tend to feel more sprightly when they’re accelerating from a stop with a burst of electric thrust, so we’ll have to wait until we drive it to find out if the updated Prius’ newfound power will help it execute highway merges and higher-speed passing maneuvers.

  Redesigned 2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime Boast Improved Fuel Economy and Acceleration © Provided by Consumer Reports

The rear door handles on the 2023 Toyota Prius blend into the rear windows.

Photo: Toyota

Active Safety and Driver Assistance

The new Prius comes standard with a whole bunch of advanced driver assistance systems. Like the current model, automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning (LDW) are standard. New for 2023 is standard blind spot warning (BSW) and rear cross-traffic warning (RCTW). It’s the kind of impressive lineup of safety technology we’d like to see more automakers offer as standard equipment.

In addition to standard adaptive cruise control (ACC), one feature that’s new to Toyota’s lineup is something the automaker calls Proactive Driving Assist. It uses the vehicle’s radar and sensors to add a small amount of steering and braking to keep a proper distance from other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. We experienced a similar system on the updated Lexus RX, and so far we’re pretty impressed by how well it discourages tailgating.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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