2023 Toyota Prius Prime: A Comeback Story
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Toyota unveiled the all-new, jaw-droppingly gorgeous Prius late last year, but many have been waiting for its electrified sibling. The first-generation Prime desperately needed improvement, including its bottom-of-the-barrel 25-mile electric range. Expected to rise to the top of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) pack, the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime debuts with fervor.
76% increase in all-electric range
The Prius Prime isn’t known for being a barnstormer. The previous model has just 121 horsepower from its collection of small but super-efficient motors. That has changed dramatically for the 2023 model year.
A larger 13.6-kWh lithium-ion battery gives the Prime a 76% jump in all-electric range over the previous model, from 25 to 44 miles in the base SE trim level. On the other hand, the XSE and XSE Premium have a manufacturer-estimated range of 39 miles. Regardless of the difference, the 2023 Prius Prime can actually be considered a fast car now.
With a new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine and an even more powerful electric motor, drivers will have 220 horsepower at their disposal. That’s nearly 100 more than the previous Prius Prime. With 32% more torque, the Prime’s 0 to 60 mph has been slashed from above 10 seconds to 6.6 seconds. But it isn’t all about power and efficiency; the interior experienced a complete redesign, too.
Less rear headroom, but better looks
On the inside, the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime has a premium look, even in the base model. In the XSE and XSE Premium, synthetic leather is available, as are multiple seating functions like a plethora of power adjustments, heating, and cooling. Like the hybrid model, headroom in the rear seating row comes as a sacrifice to handsome styling. Nevertheless, the front row has ample space.
Cargo capacity has increased for the all-new Prime, but only slightly. Whereas the 2022 Prius Prime has 19.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats, the 2023 model year provides a full 20 cubes.
More traditional infotainment layout
Despite more innovative tech features, the all-new Prime provides a less stressful infotainment experience. Gone is the tablet-style button-free layout of old, and replacing it is an intuitive, user-friendly eight-inch touchscreen. The screen size grows to 12.3 inches on the higher trims levels, but all have Toyota’s new Audio Multimedia system, vastly improving response times.
Wireless smartphone mirroring is a feature standard on every trim. And there’s no reason to opt for the mid-range or top-of-the-line levels for more charge ports; each variant gets six standard USB-C ports. The XSE Premium even has a 185-watt solar roof that can charge while parked to supply power to ancillary functions while on the go.
Standard low-speed copilot
All of the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime’s trim levels have a function where the Prime can act as a copilot in low-speed conditions. Part of the Prime’s standard Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 3.0 is the company’s new radar-based Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) technology to ease the burden of stressful stop-and-go traffic. Toyota says that on limited roadways and in certain conditions, the Prime will operate the steering, gas, and brake pedals at speeds up to 25 mph.
Proactive Driving Assist is also new to the TSS suite. Apparently different from TJA, the system provides gentle braking and steering into curves under certain conditions. This will “help to support driving tasks such as distance control between a preceding vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist,” Toyota says. But it also includes other safety features of the old Prime, like lane departure alert, road sign assist, automatic high-beam headlights, pedestrian detection, and many more.
Achingly beautiful design
The 2023 Prius Prime employed the second-generation TNGA-C platform, which even Toyota says is “cool and functional.” Designers lowered, stretched, and widened the Prime’s silhouette to up the ante in the exterior styling department. The sleek, coupe-like, sporty design is two inches shorter, one inch wider, and one inch longer than the previous generation. Reduced body and architecture weight, increased structural rigidity, and the placement of the battery under the rear seat both lowers the center of gravity and enhances cargo space.
But all the innovative manufacturing methods—laser screw welding included—also mean the new Prius Prime handles better on the road. Steering feel and ride quality have improved as much as the exterior looks.
How much is the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime?
The Prime’s starting MSRP will set potential buyers back $32,350, and the mid-range XSE, $35,600. For the range-topping XSE Premium, drivers can leave the dealership for $39,170, Toyota says. The figure is roughly $5,000 more than the preceding fully-loaded model.
Every 2023 Prius Prime comes with a ToyotaCare two-year, 25,000-mile maintenance plan covering scheduled maintenance. Moreover, every battery system has a 10-year, 150,000-mile factory guarantee.
Does the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime tick all the boxes?
What the all-new Prime does best is reclaiming relevancy in the competitive PHEV segment. Many expected the second-generation plug-in to provide at least 50 miles of all-electric range, so it falls short slightly. Otherwise, the powertrain’s grunt is no longer lacking. Prius Prime drivers shouldn’t worry about merging onto the highway now.
The redesign shows that Toyota was serious about the Prius and Prius Prime being taken seriously. It suffered immense scrutiny, mostly comical, with its confused futuristic aesthetics in the first-generation plug-in sedan. But it’s no longer the butt of any jokes. In fact, the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime is one of the best-looking cars on sale—eco-friendly or not.