2023 Toyota Prius, Prius Prime Bow in L.A.

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
2023 toyota prius prius prime bow in l a

LOS ANGELES – Like a lot of automotive enthusiasts, I’ve always been a little derisive towards Toyota’s Prius, mostly because the car has always been a bit lacking in guts. In fact, a running joke I have with a few other automotive journalists I know involves uttering the words “it’s always a f*cking Prius” when we come upon slower traffic during press drives. That’s because it often actually is a Prius holding up the works. I’ve dropped this line on many a California freeway, from Sacramento on down to San Diego. And, of course, I’ve said plenty of times bopping around my home base of Chicago.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the car’s styling, which has always been, shall we say, unusual.

That said, I’m a fair-minded sort, and I am paid to evaluate cars honestly, and I have always tried to take into account the Prius’ plusses. It’s a fuel-economy champ, the cabin has always felt spacious, and it’s offered up utility and the ability to pass many a gas pump at a relatively low MSRP. Most Prius owners – even the ones who aren’t using their Prius for ride-share duty – are happy to exchange speed and style for function and frugality.

Enter the fifth-generation Toyota Prius and Prius Prime. With which Toyota has looked at the often-contradictory nexus of fuel economy and power and decided to follow the advice from a well-worn meme. Why not both?

To that end, Toyota has a new hybrid system that uses a 2.0-liter gas engine and a new lithium-ion battery. According to Toyota, the new battery, which replaces a nickel-metal battery, is smaller and weighs less but puts out 15 percent more power. The battery is under the rear seat.

All-wheel drive is available, and these models have an electric motor driving the rear wheels. These models have a combined system output of 196 horsepower and Toyota touts a 0-60 time of seven seconds flat. Front-wheel-drive models make 194 horsepower and Toyota says FWD cars can get from zero to sixty in 7.2 seconds. There are three drive modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport.

There are also three trims: LE, XLE, and Limited. Toyota is claiming up to 57 mpg in a LE with front-wheel drive.

Using the second generation of the TNGA-C platform, this Prius gains rigidity while losing weight. The stance is wider and the driver position is lower. The roofline drops 2 inches and the rear gains an inch of width. The hip point also drops by about an inch.

Standard features on LE will include 17-inch wheels, an 8-inch infotainment screen, six USB ports, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Optional will be front and rear parking assist with automatic braking.

Standard or optional features on the two higher trims will include 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, wireless device charging, digital key, fixed glass roof, a larger infotainment screen (12.3 inches), heated steering wheel, JBL audio, power rear door, digital rearview mirror, panoramic-view monitor, and heated rear seats.

Other available features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio.

Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 is standard, and the advanced driver-aid systems it comes with include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane-tracing assist, road-sign assist, automatic high beams, and proactive driving assist. That last one uses camera and radar to brake or steer gently in certain situations.

Toyota hasn’t forgotten the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime, either, and neither have we. Available in SE, XSE, and XSE Premium trim, the Prime adds a few available features – such as a solar roof, lane-change assist, front cross-traffic alert, and traffic-jam assist and offers up 220 horsepower and a claimed 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds. Its hybrid system also uses a 2.0-liter gas engine and lithium-ion battery pack.

The Prime is 2 inches lower, an inch wider, and an inch longer than what came before. Toyota says it has “more than” 50 percent of the 25-mile EV-only range of the previous car available. So that means more than 37.5 miles of EV-only driving.

The car looks sleeker than before – it’s quite fetching in photos. Your humble author will add in-person photos and a quick take once he’s seen the car live, which he will do tonight. Expect an update later tonight or early tomorrow.

Pricing and an on-sale date for the 2023 Toyota Prius and Toyota Prius Prime have not yet been announced.

[Images: Toyota]

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2 of 25 comments
  • Mountainman Mountainman on Nov 20, 2022

    These are going to be everywhere. And they will still be the steel cocoon of every bad driver out there.

  • Statikboy Statikboy on Nov 23, 2022

    No problem Tim, and I'm sorry... you have the right to be defensive. I basically ripped on your writing without backing up my stance, which I dislike reading from other commenters. My comment clearly came across more dickish than sassy (as I intended) so I'll just apologize.

    To tackle your question, let me first say that I understand and appreciate that most of the writing on TTAC tends towards a conversational or even tongue-in-cheek slant, so I don't expect perfect English. Heck, I'm no English professor... I've been known to end the odd sentence with a preposition myself.

    That said, when I find myself rereading a sentence to make sure I understand what's being said and I don't have any trouble understanding any of the words or concepts being used, I tend to think my problem is more the writing than the reading. In this case I found the sentence awkward and stilted. I lack the proper English teaching to say exactly why it doesn't work, but tacking "available" on the end of the sentence seems especially egregious. I think it would work better before "25-mile", however, I would propose a more holistic adjustment.

    You wrote this:

    "Toyota says it has “more than” 50 percent of the 25-mile EV-only range of the previous car available. So that means more than 37.5 miles of EV-only driving."

    and, to me, this:

    "Toyota says it has “more than” 50 percent of additional electric range compared to the previous car. So that means more than 37.5 miles of EV-only driving."

    says the same thing (using "additional" to adjust your math, and assuming I read your intent correctly), but more clearly and concisely. This is, of course, merely a suggestion. There are other (possibly better) ways to write the same thing.

    I hope you take my thoughts as creative criticism, not a jab at your writing abilities. It has taken me nearly 2 hours to tailor this response to my liking, so it's clear (to me at least) that I don't mean to diminish your talent. Writing is not easy, and I don't know what kind of constraints you are under. Please continue your good work.

  • RHD Those cameras would be made non-functional if they were sprayed with aerosol bedliner. So please, do not do that. And definitely do not tell the good folks in Oxford to spray the cameras with bedliner.
  • Dusterdude Whatever the UAW advises should always be taken at face value , we all know they are honest and transparent , so no debate even required .
  • Brendan Pataky Running out of conspiracy theories here. And how is traffic management "inclusive"? Marxism dog whistle.
  • Jkross22 Another group of people convinced wearing underwear will stop their farts.
  • MKizzy Become another rental car company and partner with insurers, auto repair shops, and dealerships to offer short to middle term loaner vehicles from its inventory and then resale the vehicles after a few thousand miles or another year whichever comes first. Maybe even lease vehicles to wannabe Uber/Lyft drivers.