Daily Driver: 2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE Premium

January 15, 2024
2 mins read

Since its inception, the Toyota Prius has been synonymous with efficiency rather than traditional styling. Through multiple generations, this popular hybrid vehicle earned a reputation as a practical hatchback, albeit not winning any beauty contests—especially in its Prime plug-in hybrid variant, widely considered one of the least attractive cars both inside and out. However, all that has changed with the 2023 Toyota Prius, surprised everyone with an extremely sleek design. How does this transformation impact the Prius Prime’s key customers?

The unveiling of the 2023 Toyota Prius was a shocker. That car everyone made fun of now looks amazing. The Prius has a sleek body with angular lights, a prominent grille, and excellent proportions. The gray paint and 18-inch wheels further accentuated the exterior’s elegance. The rear, featuring recessed door handles, a full-length light bar, and the ‘Prius’ spelled across the hatch with a small Prime badge, conceals the vehicle’s true identity. My only complaint is the lack of a rear windshield wiper.

Inside, the transformation continues, presenting a departure from the quirky interiors of previous Prius models. The dashboard now resembles a conventional Toyota, incorporating the company’s new gauge cluster and steering wheel. However, the abundance of buttons on the steering wheel feels relatively cheap. How the steering wheel and placement of the small instrument display, make it a bit uncomfortable to view. On a positive note, the 12.3-inch infotainment system supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, while climate control functions are conveniently managed through buttons and switches.

Toyota has injected style into the Prius’s interior, with red accents, comfortable heated and ventilated seats, and the incorporation of the Prius’s gear selector and switchgear. Despite the compromise on rear space due to the sloping body, a solar-regenerated roof doesn’t hinder passengers. Almost everything is better in the new Prius except one: the smaller-looking trunk is one thing the previous generation beats it at.

The most significant change lies under the hood, with the Prius Prime now boasting a 2-liter engine and two motors, resulting in an impressive 220 horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque—nearly 100 more than its predecessor. This substantial increase in power translates to a competitive 0-60 MPH time of 6.5 seconds, over three seconds quicker than the previous generation. The Prius Prime offers various driving modes, including Eco, Normal, Sport, and Individual, catering to diverse preferences.

One peculiar feature is the multifunctionality of certain buttons, with their functions changing based on whether you press or press and hold. Including an EV Charge mode, allowing the engine to charge the battery, adds to the vehicle’s versatility. The Prius Prime defaults to EV mode upon startup, showcasing its commitment to electric driving.

Despite a few oddities, such as the steering wheel placement and button functionalities, the new Prius Prime impresses with its enhanced power, range, and stylish design. Pricing starts at $34,000 for the base SE, with the XSE Premium priced at around $41,000. The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime stands out not just as a good Prius but as a commendable plug-in hybrid in general, earning Toyota well-deserved applause for this remarkable transformation. Great job!

The Gentleman Racer by Michael Satterfield

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