If it feels like we’ve been waiting for the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime for months, it’s because we have. Both the Prius and Prius Prime were revealed at the Los Angeles Auto in November of 2022. This was followed quickly by a first drive of the regular Prius. Now, five months later, we finally get our first crack at the plug-in Prime, but it still won’t show up in dealers until May.
So, is it worth the wait?
2023 Toyota Prius Prime
In a word: Yes.
Take everything that’s awesome about the Prius, then add more power, more efficiency and more than 40 miles of all-electric range, and bam! You have a sure-to-please package.
In addition to the sexy redesign for 2023, the Prius Prime also gets a larger 13.6 kWh lithium-ion battery, which increases all-electric range by a whopping 75 percent over the previous Prime. So, where the previous-gen Prime got about 25 miles of all-electric range, the 2023 model gets up to 44 miles. Of course, this is just with the base SE grade on the smaller 17-inch wheels, but even the sportier XSE and XSE Premium, which are packed with more content and bigger wheels, get up to 39 miles of all-electric range. So, still a win.
Even more of a win: You can plug in at home to a regular wall jack to recharge your battery in 11 hours. If you have a level-2 charger or a 240-volt outlet, you can charge up in just 4 hours.
As if the electric range increase wasn’t enough, the 2023 Prius Prime also boosts horsepower by 100 with a larger engine and larger electric motor. Total system output is 220 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque. While I wouldn’t call running from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds exactly thrilling, it’s certainly performance enough for highway merges and passing maneuvers. With 20 more horsepower than the regular Prius, it has a little extra pep that adds some sportiness into the mix.
Along those lines, one of the big differentiators between Prius and Prius Prime will be the sporty red interior accents on the latter. And while the Prius has LE, XLE and Limited trim levels, Prime goes for the sportier SE, XSE and XSE Premium trims. Unique exterior bits exclusive to the Prime include brighter detail elements below the grille, and clear taillights on the Prius Prime.
Similar to the Prius, for 2023 the Prime gets a standard digital driver’s display, more premium materials, and Toyota’s new infotainment system.
With the redesign, you’ll likely see more people considering the hybrid and its plug-in counterpart for the first time. It’s easy on the eyes and doesn’t drive like a slug. Just the opposite, actually. While I’d stop short of saying the Prius and Prius Prime are “fun,” they’re definitely not boring.
The 2023 Prius Prime specifically comes off as a smooth and quiet driver with nice amenities (think available heated-and-ventilated seats) and some really cool tech. In addition to the available 12.3-inch screen and the Toyota infotainment system that will tell you a joke if you ask it to, the Prime is the first Toyota to get Traffic Jam Assist. This allows for hands-free driving at speeds below 25 mph. Though I didn’t get to test the system in the Prime (ironically, we didn’t encounter stop-and-go-traffic in California on this trip), I have used it in the new Lexus RX, and it works really well. It is important to note, however, Traffic Jam Assist is only available on the two top trim levels, and it’s tied to a Drive Connect subscription after a 1-year trial.
Of course, all this good stuff comes at a premium, and the base SE is $3,580 more than the outgoing base LE Prius Prime. And the PHEVness also comes with a price, as the Prime costs $4,900 more than the regular Prius. Pricing for the 2023 Prius Prime is as follows, including the $1,095 destination fee:
SE ($33,445): This base trim level has standard 17-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch touch-screen display, fabric seats, six USB-C ports, leather trimmed steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Options include front and rear park assist with automatic braking.
XSE ($36,695): This trim adds machine-finished 19-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, power adjustable driver’s seat, leatherette seating surfaces, smart key and wireless charger as well as front and rear park assist with automatic braking. Options include a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, fixed glass roof and the ability to use your phone as a key.
XSE Premium ($40,265): This top-tier trim adds the JBL premium audio, 12.3-inch touchscreen, fixed glass roof, heated-and-ventilated front seats, power liftgate and the ability to use your phone as a key. Options include the 360-degree camera display, digital rearview mirror, heated rear seats and advanced park assist.
Another big option only available on the XSE Premium: the 185-watt solar roof, which is capable of charging the battery while parked, as well as supplying power to auxiliary functions while driving. This option will cost $640.
While you are paying a lot more for the 2023 Toyota Prius Prime, and it will probably take you a decade to “break even” on the premium vs. gas costs, I prefer to look at the time costs. Stopping at a gas station once a month or every other month versus once a week is worth something. But you’ll have to decide if it’s worth nearly $5k.
I for one am glad Toyota ditched the cutesy bowtie taillights from the prior-gen and opted to mimic the Prius’ sleek styling. I like the new tech as well as the ride and handling. And for me, someone on the petite side of the spectrum, the driving position was perfect.
Overall, I think the 2023 Prius Prime raises the bar on PHEVs, and if you’re ready for electrification but have range anxiety, the Prius Prime serves as a nice bridge.
2023 Toyota Prius Prime Gallery
Click below for enlarged images