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As hybrid cars go, the Toyota Prius has always been one of the most popular models. However, it was also a lackluster choice, good for efficiency and not much else. Now, the 2023 Toyota Prius is here and it’s bringing some big upgrades make it one of the best affordable cars of 2023.

A white 2023 Toyota Prius close up, which is one of the best affordable cars in 2023.
2023 Toyota Prius | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Improved performance, excellent economy make the Toyota Hybrid one of the best affordable cars this year

Of course, the main focus of any hybrid model is efficiency, and the 2023 Toyota Prius doesn’t disappoint. For 2023, the hybrid hatchback gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, up from a 1.8-liter unit in the previous model. The electric motor also gets a boost, and total horsepower jumps from 121 horsepower to 194 ponies. That’s not far off models like the Honda Civic Si and Kia Forte GT, and easily puts the Prius in the conversation as one of the best affordable cars.

It would be easy to assume then, that Toyota has sacrificed some fuel economy to win the hearts of more traditional drivers that want a bit more punch from their daily driver. They didn’t. The base 2023 Toyota Prius gets 57 mpg city and 56 mpg on the open road.

Improved driving dynamics in the 2023 Toyota Prius make it one of the best affordable cars

The all-new 2023 Toyota Prius drives down a road near some trees
2023 Toyota Prius | Toyota USA

Even if power wasn’t an issue, the handling of prior Prius models could be described as many things. Engaging, responsive, and enjoyable weren’t any of them. The new model though, takes full advantage of its low center of gravity to spice things up.

When Toyota made the last Prius, the brand was firmly in its sensible era. Models like the MK4 Supra were long in the rearview, while the GT86 had yet to arrive. The closest thing Toyota had to fun back in 2008 was Scion, and anyone that’s driven a tC knows that the excitement ended with its coupe styling.

Fast forward to now, and Toyota’s last two CEO’s are determined to make Toyota fun again. Even the Camry has a white-hot TRD trim, and the GR Corolla turns the brand’s best affordable car into a rally-ripping rocket.

So it makes sense then, that the 2023 Toyota Prius would find a little of that DNA, even in a slightly watered-down form. The new Prius isn’t a hot hatch by any stretch, but it’ll hold its own on a twisty mountain road and we imagine a set of sport tires might make it downright hoonable in the right hands.

Despite improvements, some issues remain

While we still believe the new Prius is one of the best affordable cars of 2023, it’s not all roses.

In an effort to keep the Prius efficient, it lacks the refinement of some thirstier models. That dearth of refinement shows up in a few areas, and we agree with MotorTrend about the wind noise at highway speeds. Furthermore, the rear-seat headroom is lackluster, thanks in part to the stunning new roofline of the ‘23 Prius. Other rear-seat disappointments include a lack of vents, which seems like a silly oversight for a 2023 hybrid.

Unfortunately, cargo room is down from the previous model and the difference isn’t close. Losing nearly seven cubic feet of cargo space is no small downside and something that longtime Prius fans may not appreciate.

Is the 2023 Prius a good buy?

Prius rear badging on the trunk of a white 2023 Toyota Prius hybrid hatchback model
Prius rear badging on the trunk of a 2023 Toyota Prius model | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The improved performance and excellent fuel economy take the Prius from a good hybrid to one of the best affordable cars on the market. A $30k price tag and significant upgrades make the newest Toyota Hybrid a great choice yet again.

Related The All-New 2023 Toyota Prius Has 6 Minor Drawbacks

The All-New 2023 Toyota Prius Has 6 Minor Drawbacks