2023 Toyota Prius : The Hybrid Queen Gets Revamped

Strong points
  • Enhanced exterior looks
  • Great fuel economy
  • Upgraded performance
Weak points
  • No entry-level FWD version
  • Limited visibility towards the rear
  • Higher price
Full report

Twenty-five years after the first Prius went into production, Toyota unveiled the fifth-generation model, at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show. And The Car Guide recently travelled to California to test-drive it.

A Whole New Look

What's most obvious when you look at the 2023 Prius is its new silhouette. Although the proportions are similar to the previous model, it is radically different - more upscale and less spaceship. Note that it now comes with 19-inch wheels, which is a huge contrast to the former 15-inch wheels. Also, the tailgate is now built with a single piece of glass instead of two pieces with a central horizontal pillar like the one on the outgoing model. One would think that visibility would be improved here. However, this is not the case. The C-pillars are particularly wide, which hinders visibility.

Photo: Germain Goyer

Inside, the instrumentation that was previously located in the centre of the dashboard has (finally) been moved in front of the driver. It is similar to that of the bZ4x. Depending on your driving position, you may find that information is a bit hidden by the steering wheel or by your hands. It seems that Toyota wanted to create a mix between traditional instrumentation and head-up display. Unfortunately, it's not a very convincing compromise...

Nevertheless, the interior presentation is well done and it’s certainly a big leap forward for the Prius, whose previous model was outdated in terms of finish.

Photo: Germain Goyer

Larger Displacement

For 2023, the Prius' four-cylinder engine sees its displacement increase from 1.8 L to 2.0 L. As for the hybrid system, it is reduced in size and increases its efficiency. The battery has been replaced by a more efficient lithium-ion unit, which, as you might expect, results in more power. In fact, the new Prius outputs 196 horsepower, a 75-horsepower jump over the 2022 Prius.

We must underline that the old Prius was one of the slowest cars in the industry. While it was appreciated for its frugality, passing on the highway could be challenging... This is no longer the case. Other than a well-deserved performance bump, the biggest improvement for this fifth generation is undoubtedly the addition of all-wheel drive as standard equipment in Canada.

Remember that the outgoing model could be equipped with an optional all-wheel drive system, but it was basically a small electric motor that sent power to the rear wheels only when speeds didn't exceed 70 km/h. For 2023, Toyota has refined its system, which can now be operated at any speed. We’re looking forward to driving the 2023 Prius in wintry conditions to test the effectiveness of this system.

Photo: Germain Goyer

The Toyota Prius has always been known for its low fuel consumption, and that's not going to change. For 2023, Toyota has announced an average of 4.8 L/100 km in combined highway/city driving. This is the same as the previous model with all-wheel drive. After our test-drive, the on-board computer showed a rating of around 50 MPG, or the equivalent of 4.7 L/100 km.

Photo: Germain Goyer

A Bigger Price Tag

Everything is expensive these days. In Canada, there are only two versions of the Prius, the XLE and Limited. They start at $36,490 and $42,990 respectively. The latter stands out thanks to its 12.3-inch infotainment screen, JBL stereo system, panoramic glass roof and heated and ventilated front seats. To justify this higher price range, Toyota explains that the Prius' vocation changes slightly with the arrival of this new generation.

While the Prius and Corolla Hybrid were overlapping in Toyota's lineup and consumers might have been hesitating between the two, the automaker has taken the initiative to further distinguish them. The Corolla Hybrid is now positioned in the entry-level segment, while the Prius is a tad more upscale.

Photo: Germain Goyer

A Prime Version Is on the Way

Of course, the Prius Prime is also back for 2023. But we didn't get to drive it… We'll have to wait until the end of March when the model hits Canadian dealerships. As for the regular Prius, it will arrive in dealerships at the beginning of 2023.

The details regarding the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime are not finalized yet. When it was unveiled, we were promised a 50% increase in electric range meaning that it would go from 40 to 60 kilometres – that’s quite the improvement. The new Prius Prime will still be a front-wheel drive car. Depending on its price, battery capacity and official range, it could be eligible for provincial and federal incentives. We also hope that availability will not become an issue as it is currently the case with some of Toyota's vehicles.

Photo: Germain Goyer

The Final Word

Twenty-five years after its introduction, the Toyota Prius is a mature and accomplished product. Thanks to its less polarizing design and more refined powertrain, it has everything it takes to grab more market shares. Of course, fuel consumption has not been reduced, but the product as a whole has been improved. In the end, it's still a winner. The Prius was a reference in the hybrid field and it remains so with this fifth-generation model.

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