PRIOR PROGENY OF GREEN CAR STAID: The first three generations of 21st century Toyota Prius gas battery electric hybrids innovated as quenched humped desert ungulates for the highway, while deliberate as hard shelled amphibians and striking as grounded aviarians. Offering the two more recent generation Priuses [or is it Prii] as plug-in hybrids still didn’t move the needle past unemotional. With hybrid electrification having spread to the mainstream, the founder of the green motoring movement had become the anti-car poster child. An industry on road to zero tail pipe emissions wondered if there would be any successor to a car model called “Previous.”
FIFTH GODFATHER OF GREEN CAR RE- INNOVATED: Like a swimmer escaping a rip current by moving perpendicular to the shoreline, the Japanese automotive conglomerate has decided to double down on the Beyond Zero strategy. A convincing successor to the original progeny of green would have to be equally defiant while the world awaits a comprehensive public charging and hydrogen fueling network. Thus, the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV is a cordable genuine hare which has been pulled out of the “Diversified Electrified” hat with the striking style of a swan.
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WHAT: 2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE PHEV Mk.5 XW60 TNGA-C platform compact 5-door hatchback succeeds the XW50 series Toyota Prius Prime PHEV. It is the third series of Prius to be plug-in hybrid electric powered.
- Standard Power:
- 1987 cc Atkinson cycle, dual VVT-i DOHC 16V start-stop idle I-4 cylinder gasoline engine
- PowerShift™ Continuously Variable Transaxle, parallel shaft gearset coupled, with planetary first gear
- 220 hp (160 kW) / 139 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm; NET HYBRID
|2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE PHEV||2022 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV|
|Curb weight (pounds)||3571 lbs.||3375 lbs.|
|Powertrain – petrol||transverse 2.0L 16V DOHC Atkinson gas I-4||transverse 1.8L 16V DOHC Atkinson gas I-4|
|Drivetrain / Final Drive Ratio||10 step CVT, parallel shaft gearset coupled, with planetary first gear, front-wheel drive||10 step CVT, parallel shaft gearset coupled, with planetary first gear, front-wheel drive|
|Horsepower petrol / Torque (pound- feet)||150 hp / 139 lb-ft @ 4400 r.p.m.||95 hp / 105 lb-ft @ 3600 r.p.m.|
|Horsepower hybrid (net) (kW) / Torque (pound- feet)||220 hp (164 kW) / 139 lb-ft @ 4400 r.p.m. (+82% hp, +33% torque vs. predecessor)||121 hp (90 kW) / 105 lb-ft @ 3600 r.p.m.|
- Energy Flow Modes x 3 = Automatic, Hybrid, BEV
- “B” regenerative slowing mode (not quite true single pedal driving)
- Drive Modes x 3 = Eco, Normal, Sport
- Battery EV preservation & recharge lockout control
|2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE PHEV||2022 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV|
|Powertrain – electrified / power flow||MG 2 PMS 650VAC (front): 120 kW (161 hp), 139-lb-ft; MG 1 PMS (regen.): 6 kW (8 hp) / parallel series||MG 2 PMS 600VAC (front): 53 kW (71 hp), 105-lb-ft; MG 1 PMS (regen.): 6 kW (8 hp) / parallel series|
|Battery – electric propulsion / weight||LiIon Polymer 72 cells x 3.7V @ 51.0 Ah, 13.8 kWh capacity / 284 lbs. Panasonic NMC 622||LiIon 60 cells x 3.7V @ 4.1 Ah, 8.8 kWh capacity / 265 lbs.|
|Charge time / connector type, speed: Battery – electric propulsion||Level 2 charge time = 4.5 hrs; Level 1 = 11.0 hrs / J1772, Type 2, 16A, 3.5 kW||Level 2 charge time = 2.2 hrs; Level 1 = 5.3 hrs / J1772, Type 2, 16A, 3.7 kW|
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: [From previous generation XW50 series Toyota Prius] The awkward duckling has bloomed into a Swan. The fifth generation Godfather of Green driving profile ditches the tradition of whimsical upright slabsides, incongruous folds and prominent rear butressed split liftgate glass. The 2023 Toyota Prius adopts is more streamlined truer to the Dustbuster™ inspiration. The silhouette is filled out by a Coke bottle fuselage, high rising beltline, rising crease to rear door cheatline. A more sharply raked hood with flanking valleys is matched by an acutely swept back windscreen rising and declining like a coaster hill, resulting in a slim greenhouse. The available darkened roof ,with for and aft moonroofs, depicts a fighter aircraft canopy. The longer sloped liftgate falls off to a lateral raceway lightbar set within a piano black frame. The license plated bowl, also set in piano black, has been displaced to the mid lower bumper.
√ “Floating” split nose to hood wrapped with inboard lateral boomerang directionals / DRLs banded with lower segmented LED headlights; √ Darkened lower airdam louvers in metallic frame; √ Front & rear lower valances banded in piano black with lateral winglets; √ Piano black window frames + sailpanel mirrors + side pillars + wheel arches; √ Body colored front door handles; √ C-pillar embedded rear door release levers.
WHY: Cordable Fifth generation Godfather of Green Car extends electric range, really flies and is easy on the eyes.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Spring 2023
WHERE: Toyota new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Tsutsumi, Toyota Aichi Prefecture, Japan
HOW ROADWORTHY: The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime turns the model’s performance character on its head, aligned with the mojo from the speedy RAV4 Prime PHEV SAV. Lexicons henceforth shall strike the name as an adjective for deliberate or plodding driving. This second generation cordable compact hybrid no longer fears the overtaking left lane. Thank Toyota heavens for seventy-seven percent greater net hybrid power (220 hp).
Stabbing the accelerator for a juke overtaking in the more conservative automatic HEV mode won’t fire up the 2.0L Atkinson gas four. Credit a doubly powerful (160 horses), extra magnet endowed synchronous AC traction motor for the astonishing 6.6 second sprint to 60 miles per hour. Assuming the commute is less than 40 miles, the velocity is kept below 85 miles per hour, and the temperature isn’t extreme, nary a drop of petrol will be swallowed. In addition to the the superfluous Eco and Sport modes regenerative braking “B” drive mode returns for a weak attempt at single pedal driving.
- +1 Center console joystick drive mode selector replaces the old “Deau Chevaux” lower center dash faux lapis lazuli drive selector.
- -1 Darn noisy when the engine runs
HOW LIMBER: Not skimping on wheel control the redesigned 2023 Prius Prime upgrades to a double wishbone rear architecture. The traditional ride suppleness is retained but faster damper rebound control reduces yaw. The new “Godfather of Green” tracks the line more predictably. XSE trim upgrades to a meaty footprint tire wrapping 19″ inch alloys delaying the eventual front nose plow. Noticeably quicker turn in and a helm with heftier wind weighting are still met with road feel numbness. hile the disc binder occupying four corners exhibit more linear pedal action but nothing that would be hot lap helpful.
HOW FAR: 54 combined miles per gallon; 500 miles maximum hybrid range, 30 g CO2/ mile; 93 MPGe
- EV Mode range ≈ 39 miles at up to 84 mph
Battery Hold mode preserves charge state for future intended pure electric driving
2023 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV Consumption by comparison
|2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE PHEV||2022 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV|
|Fuel Econ. EPA City / Hwy / Observed/ MPG-e||50 / 47 / 48 mpg. / 114 MPG-e||55 / 53 / 54 mpg. / 133 MPG-e|
|Fuel Capacity / Octane/ Hwy Range / EV Range||10.6 gallons. / 87 AKI / 550 miles / 39 miles @ < 85 mph (+77% EV range vs. predecessor)||11.4 gallons. / 87 AKI / 640 miles / 22 miles @ < 85 mph|
|EV Energy Consumption kWh/ mile / Miles/ kWh||0.29 kWh per miles / 3.4 mi./ kWh @ 22 deg. Celsius||0.25 kWh per miles / 3.7 mi./ kWh @ 22 deg. Celsius|
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: A sleeker 2023 Toyota Prius Prime compromised slightly on occupant space. The dual glass moonroof shaves what is already scanty head room. The dash is shallower but the center console has risen above hip height and widened. The slimmer greenhouse and thick “C” pillar presents more blindspots. The deep dashboard and generous cargo space consume what could have been more passenger space. Good aerodynamic looks have further taken a bite out of cargo space.
2023 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV Space by comparison:
|2023 Toyota Prius XSE PHEV||2022 Toyota Prius Prime||2023 Kia Niro PHEV|
|Wheelbase (inches)||108.3″ TNGA-GAC||106.3″||107.1″|
|Headroom Row 1, 2 (inches)||38.0″, 36.4″ (moonroof)||39.4″, 37.2″||40.5″, 39.5″|
|Legroom Row 1, 2 (inches)||43.2″, 34.8″||43.2″, 33.4″||41.5″, 39.8″|
|Cargo Capacity (nom. – max. cubic feet)||21.5 cu.ft. – 61.8 cu.ft.||19.8 cu.ft. – 50.7 cu.ft.||19.4 cu.ft. – 54.6 cu.ft.|
|Ground Clearance (inches)/ Drag coefficient||6.0″ inches / 0.27 Cd||4.8″ inches / 0.25 Cd||6.3″ inches / 0.29 Cd|
|Towing (pounds)||1500 lbs.||N.R.|
HOW USEFUL: √ Cargo bay = 2 full size cases and two carry-ons; √ Luggage liftover is conveniently low; √ 60/40% split folding rear seat backs expand to immense home improvement store shopping spree load space.
- +1 Generous center armrest bin and glovebox; Retracing cargo bay wall bag hooks; Chrome load floor anchors
- /- Sliding front center armrest can obstruct aftmost cupholder
- -1 Sparse front door pocket space
- -1 Shallow rear center seatbelt receiver recess
HOW SAFE: IIHS 2023 Top Safety Pick Plus = √ 8 airbags, √ Rear camera w/ fixed gridlines, √ Sonar park audible park assist;
Driver assist technology: √ 8 airbags; √ Rear camera; √ STANDARD Toyota SafetySense 3.0 = Pedestrian & daytime cyclist detection braking; Forward collision avoidance braking; Blind spot &rear cross traffic warning; Lane departure, Road edge & Sway Warning, Lane Keep Assist; Adaptive cruise control – partial, Automatic High Beam headlights, Rear seat reminder
- AVAILABLE: ♦ Front + rear park warning(std. XSE+); ♦ 360o Surround cameras(pkg. XSE Prem.)
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: Not to be outdone by the radical exterior rethink, the 2023 Toyota Prius interior has emphatically quit the Cyclopean center dashboard display strategies. Instead, a motorcycle sized TFT singular dial instrument cluster is set atop an arch aft of the steering wheel. Not absolutely devoid of unconventional the instruments are viewed above the steering wheel upper rim. The rest of the cabin exudes a sporty compact environment though sometimes skimping on materials. Toyota Connected infotainment, with its “wakeup phrase” voice command abilities is aboard but its modern appearance is dimly illuminated and not that quick to respond.
√ Softex leatherette seats w/ red accents, 1st Row heated, front sport seats, driver’s 8-way power, pax 6-way manual adjustment; √ Power windows w/ full auto operation x 4; √ Keyless approach access, push button ignition; √ 1-Zone automatic climate control; √ Thick padded front and rear door armrests; √ Enhanced cabin insulation; √ Glass roof, front power open
- +1 Fatigue reducing seats pay off; 1st Row pax seat height adjustment
- -1 Non-height adjusting front passenger seat
Cool Gizmo(s): √ 185W solar roof charging panel (available, not on test vehicle); √ Toyota Connected Wake Up query powered by Google browser; √ Cockpit overhead touch trace activated 1st & 2nd Row LED lighting
Details Done Right: √ Red seat accents + contrast stitching; √ Red & satin metallic “U” band middle dash accent; √ Dense pile carpet; √ Red mid dash lateral ambient light line; √ Tight mesh headliner; √ Piano gloss black center console bezel; √ Tight pebble grained soft mid dash and upper door panels
Nearly Non Descript: -1 Outboard driver’s side dashboard switches obstructed; Hard dash top; “plain Jane” door panel switches; No available heated steering wheel
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ Toyota Connected center dash tablet 12.3″-inch landscape oriented, capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen (replaces SE, XSE 8.0″ touch screen); √ Drive Connect “Hey Toyota” system voice interaction; √ Bluetooth hands-free communications x 2 phones; √ GPS HDD cloud Navigation w/ 3-D map, voice guidance, Google POI data, OTA updates; √ SMS voice to text messaging; √ Wireless Android Auto / Apple CarPlay phone projection; √ USB-C x 6, 12V x 1 120V AC x 1, 1500W (XSE Premium cargo bay); √ Qi wireless inductive charging pad (center console slot)
- +1 New Toyota Connected infotainment user interface enhances intuitive voice command functions; Bluetooth handsfree connection for two phones simultaneously
- +/- When is a tablet style infotainment screen too large?
- -1 Non-concealed forward center console wireless device storage shelf
HOW ENTERTAINING: √ 6-speaker, 240 Watt HD Radio streaming audio = more than adequate (800 watt, 8 speaker 8-channel JBL Quantum-Logic DTS w/ Clari-Fi audio exclusive to XSE Premium)
HOW “APP” -LICABLE:
√ wireless Android Auto / Apple Car Play smart phone projection; √ Toyota Apps; √ Digital Key
By Subscription (trial): ♦ Sirius XM radio (3 mo.); ♦ WiFi by AT&T (2 GB trial); ♦ Toyota Connected Services (3 yrs.)
HOW MUCH: $39,130 = estimated as tested 2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE PHEV
WHAT’S MISSING: Outward visibility and 2nd Row headroom of prior Priuses; Heated steering option
ANY COMPETITION: Kia Niro PHEV: conventional crossover utility
FINAL WORD: Who could have thought possible such a thorough rethink of the Corded Godfather of Hybrid Green.