2023 Toyota Prius Review
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First Drive: 2023 Toyota Prius Review

Nowadays, we can easily say that the electric push in the automotive industry has been initiated by Tesla. The EV car manufacturer is indeed responsible for this new era, but before its time, a little electrified car born in Japan paved the way towards mass electrification.

That car is the Toyota Prius, clearly the most well-known hybrid car model on the planet and the one that preceded all hybrids. Toyota Canada invited a few members of the local automotive press to see if the fifth Toyota Prius is still relevant in a booming EV market. Here’s what you need to know about the latest Prius offering.

But before you start shopping, make sure to read our guide: Buying a Used Hybrid Car: Here’s What to Look For – where we highlight 3 major things to keep in mind, and explain the difference between hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Your can browse all our used hybrid cars here.

2023 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota 

Key Features:

  • Under the hood, the 2023 Toyota Prius is now equipped with a bigger and more powerful ICE 2.0L 4-cylinder engine
  • Total horsepower is close to 200 hp, with 196 in AWD guise, the only drivetrain available in Canada
  • AWD is always on, as opposed to the previous model which disconnected above 70 km/h speeds
  • The plug-in hybrid Prius Prime version will come later in 2023
  • The gearbox is still a CVT
  • Fuel consumption average is at 4,8 L/100 km, the same as the previous AWD model
  • The standard wheel size is 19-inch
  • Two trims are planned: XLE AWD and Limited AWD
  • The latest Prius is lower, longer, wider and much more refined on the exterior
  • The safety system has been optimized

Direct competitors:

  • Honda Accord Hybrid
  • Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
  • Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
  • Kia Niro Hybrid
  • Toyota Corolla Hybrid/Corolla Cross Hybrid
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid

For 2023, the self-rechargeable model is back with a fifth-generation and the first thing we’re noticing is that this new Prius is a much more sleek approach to the original concept. Of course, there are still a few quirks here and there, but the 2023 Prius looks to be much more convincing in terms of driving dynamics, a promise made by the chief-engineer of the Prius, Satoki Oya. 

New Prius Hybrid price: XLE AWD or Limited AWD?

For the new year, the latest Toyota Prius is going up in price, because the brand believes its other hybrid models can fill the gap both underneath and above the Prius moniker. Cars like the Corolla Hybrid and the new Corolla Cross Hybrid we look at here are affordable options while the Camry Hybrid and the RAV4 Hybrid are also worth mentioning in this electrified discussion. 

Redesigned 2023 Prius XLE AWD entry-level model starts at $36,490 – big price jump from 2022

2023 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota 

Therefore, the base model (XLE AWD) of the Prius starts at $36,490, a much higher starting price for a car that started at $30,390 in its most affordable AWD trim in 2022.

The XLE AWD trim receives 19-inch wheels (the same as the Limited trim), an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen, an 8-way adjustable heated power driver’s seat with a heated passenger seat, Softex seating, a heated steering wheel, six USB-C ports, electronic parking brake, rain-sensing wipers, smart key, wireless charger and blind sport monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

The Limited trim gets on top of the XLE equipment, a 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen, a premium JBL audio system with 8 speakers, a fixed glass roof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a powered hatch, a digital key, panoramic view monitor, digital rearview mirror (very useful with such a sloped rear window), advanced park system, on top of front and rear parking assist with automatic braking. 

2023 Toyota Prius interior

2023 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota 

Inside, the new 2023 Toyota Prius presents itself in a much more convincing way with this sleeker dash. With that information display mounted further behind the steering wheel – a setup already seen in the full electric Toyota bZ4X we reviewed here – the center screen appears bigger, especially in the 12.3-inch size. 

Around it, all the usual HVAC buttons are regrouped underneath the center vents, while the centre console now comes with the usual – and complicated – gearshift lever. Around it, the engineers have fitted a vertical wireless charger for your smartphone (with little levers to keep the phone in place) and a few extra buttons for the daily routine, such as Drive mode, EV mode and Traction control. The multifunction steering wheel is also adorned with large buttons that are easy to manipulate with gloves.

2023 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota 

The drawback of this Prius is its interior space, especially behind the front row. The front seats are quite comfortable, but on the other hand, tall adults will have a hard time sitting in the back with the lower roofline. 

And the same criticism applies in the cargo area: with 574 L of volume, the trunk of the Prius is only slightly bigger than the previous Prius Prime’s. Again, let’s not forget Toyota’s new strategy with all these hybrid alternatives in the range.

Performance & drive impressions

Is the new Prius fun to drive? To sum it up: yes! Maybe not as fun as the new GR Corolla hatchback we took to the track, but the chief-engineer made sure the fifth Prius was a great driving car. Not that it matters but know this: his actual car in Japan is a Toyota GT 86, a car also known as the GR 86 in North America. Clearly, he knows a thing or two about driving pleasure if his personal toy is a rear-wheel drive sports coupe!

Revised suspension, bigger wheels, and lighter for 2023

2023 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota 

From the very first acceleration, you can feel that there is a lot more power available, an effect amplified by the higher torque of the electric motor. The new Prius isn’t at a Golf GTI level yet, but Toyota's new hybrid is a better car to drive. With the larger wheels and a lighter, completely revised suspension, the new hybrid is more agile in city driving and even on a twisty road. 

Braking is also more aggressive, while the Energy Recovery system is reduced when the car is driven under 9 mph. This means that a one-pedal driving mode isn’t possible like in some EVs. It's also worth mentioning that the enhanced vehicle detection system did its part to slow the car down with all that traffic around Del Mar, California where we tested Toyota’s latest Prius Hybrid. 

Verdict: is Toyota’s redesigned 2023 Prius still the hybrid to beat?

Toyota’s new electrified strategy means that consumers will have a great variety of models when they shop for their next car. Yes, it’s true that Toyota is not big in the full EV game, but with the bZ range of EVs coming in a few years, and this focus on hybrids, the brand is still working towards a cleaner lineup of cars, trucks and Toyota SUVs.

2023 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota 

Wait for the Toyota Prius Prime?

The next few months will tell if this more expensive Prius will continue to attract consumers. Something tells us the Prime version will prove more popular when it shows up in dealerships late 2023, especially with government EV incentives still in effect. For the time being, the newest Toyota Prius is still a fuel sipper, but it just feels better. 

Ready to buy a used hybrid car?

View all our pre-owned hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars here. Every vehicle from Canada Drives has completed a 150 Point Inspection, comes with a no-charge 30 Day / 1,500 km warranty, and is covered by our 7-Day money back return policy.

Considering a hybrid SUV or crossover instead? Here are 7 of the best PHEV SUVs in Canada right now.

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