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2023 Toyota Prius Prime Examination: A Flawless Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle

Debuting in 1997, the Toyota Prius struggled to earn recognition as a trendy vehicle until now. Toyota’s emphasis on design over utility is evident in the 2023 Prius, shedding its previous uncool appearance and evolving into a car that you’ll be proud to drive. The 2023 Prius Prime plug-in hybrid elevates the Prius to the next level.

The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid enhances the standard Prius with a larger lithium-ion battery and alterations under the hood, enabling an impressive electric range of 44 miles. This represents a substantial 76 percent increase over the previous Prius Prime, making it an appealing option for buyers seeking an extended electric driving range without committing to a fully electric vehicle.

Beneath the hood, the Prius Prime exhibits more power, propelled by a 150 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a larger 161 hp electric motor generator. The hybrid system delivers a combined 220 horsepower, which is 100 more than the previous generation, with an increased torque rating of 139 lb-ft compared to the previous 105 lb-ft. This translates to a swift 0-60 mph time of only 6.6 seconds, a marked improvement in acceleration for the Prius Prime.

In fully electric mode, the Prius Prime achieves a top speed of 84 mph, with the top XSE and XSE Premium trim levels featuring a slightly shorter 39-mile EV range. Nonetheless, this represents a significant improvement over the previous Prius Prime, which only had a 25-mile EV range. While the acceleration in EV mode may not be as forceful, the Prius Prime truly comes to life when both motors are engaged.

The HV/EV Auto mode automatically engages the engine when extra power is required, such as during uphill driving. Once the battery is depleted, the Prius Prime seamlessly transitions into a hybrid model, similar to the standard Prius but with added power. In hybrid mode, the Prius Prime achieves an impressive 52 mpg combined.

Charging the Prius Prime with a 120-volt outlet takes 11 hours for a full recharge, while a 240-volt charger reduces the time to four hours. The top XSE Premium trim offers an optional 185W solar roof, capable of delivering a small charge to the battery when parked in the sun, supporting auxiliary functions while driving.

On the road, the Prius Prime delivers an enjoyable driving experience, quick to accelerate from a standstill. However, its light steering lacks significant feedback. The well-tuned suspension strikes a balance between comfort and minimal body roll, contributing to an enjoyable-to-drive plug-in hybrid, particularly in urban settings. The Prius Prime offers three drive modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport.

Externally, the Prius Prime closely resembles the regular Prius, distinguished primarily by the Prime badge on the rear and its unique 17- or 19-inch wheels. Inside, the dashboard and seats feature red trim, enhancing the interior’s style. The SE comes with standard fabric seats, while the XSE and XSE Premium are equipped with SofTex leatherette seats.

Safety features include the new Traffic Jam Assist system, enabling hands-free driving on highways at speeds under 25 mph. The system manages steering, braking, and acceleration, providing a more relaxed driving experience in traffic, with a driver monitor camera ensuring attention to the road. The Proactive Driving Assist system uses the vehicle’s camera and radar system to offer braking or steering assistance during curves or to maintain a safe following distance.

The base SE trim level comes with dark grey 17-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen, fabric seats, rain-sensing wipers, and blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert. Front and rear parking assist with automatic braking is available as a $35 option on the base model.

The XSE trim adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a heated driver’s seat, a digital key, SofTex seats, and a wireless charger. Optional upgrades for the XSE include a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen ($735) and a panoramic glass roof ($1,000). The top-tier XSE Premium includes a JBL audio system, the 12.3-inch touchscreen, a panoramic glass roof, heated and ventilated front seats, a power liftback, and the digital key. Additional options for the XSE Premium include the solar roof ($610), a digital rearview mirror ($200), heated rear seats ($350), and the Advanced Technology Package Park and Panoramic View Monitor ($1,085).

The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime SE starts at $33,445, including destination. The XSE Premium begins at $40,265, and the XSE is priced at $36,695.

With its extended electric driving range, increased power, and its more stylish exterior, the 2023 Prius Prime is set to redefine perceptions of the Prius, making it a compelling choice for those seeking a blend of efficiency and style. We were so impressed with the Prius Prime, that we added a 2024 Toyota Prius Prime that to our long term fleet.

Image Source: The Global Guy / Shutterstock

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