2023 Toyota Prius Limited
It’s still a Prius, but now there’s a lot more to it.
The new Prius is a huge step for the original hybrid from Toyota. Formerly known as the slow and not-so-fun hybrid, the new iteration aims for a totally different look, feel, and drive.
By J-F Wright
Mon, Sep 11, 2023 09:40 PM PST
Images by the author, edited by Erica Wright.
Each time I hear the word Prius I remember the first time I rode in one. The founder of LACar, Roy Nakano, was the first person I knew to own one and I first got to drive it as we went to get pizza. My father was with us, and he kept talking about how cool it is that the Prius has all this torque from the electric motor ready immediately. Way before all-electric vehicles, having the immediate kick of an electric motor - even just a slight kick - was cool.
Time has passed - a lot of time, actually - but it seemed the Prius stayed mainly the same. As other car manufacturers started to introduce hybrid engines their models seemed to better keep up with the times and also might have been seen as the more fun alternatives in the hybrid market.
Back in 2011 my wife and I test-drove a Prius. She was to use it for her long commutes through the desert. I remember that the main complaint we had was that the Prius just didn’t have much going for it - other than the gas-milage, which was what got us interested in the first place, there wasn’t much else to look forward to when getting in for a drive. We opted for something different.
Now another decade has passed, and I’m spending a week in a Prius. And oh my, it’s come a long way from the Prius I remember. It’s not really the same car at all… But it is still a Prius.
Still A Prius
It’s still priced for the masses - starting at $27,450. Our test vehicle is a Prius Limited with pretty much everything on it so it’s priced at $37,494, which is still within reach for many buyers.
It’s still futuristic-looking - the first Prius looked spaceship-like for its time, and the newest iteration definitely carries on that tradition. With that said, however, the new Prius looks a lot more “fun” / “cool” / “exciting” / (enter another word not usually mentioned together with the word “Prius” here).
It still has a bunch of technology - the first Prius was a technological advancement just by virtue of being a hybrid, yet it did also have other tech that was new to its time. The current Prius comes with a plethora of tech, including the newest version of Toyota Safety Sense: 3.0.
It still has great gas-milage - at a combined MPG of 52, the Prius Limited will keep you happy at the pump, even as prices keep rising.
What’s New In The Prius?
Well, almost everything is new. For starters, it’s more powerful, more tech-heavy, more efficient, more fun, and more exciting-looking.
The power comes from the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder hybrid engine, generating a net of 194 hp. Not an insane amount of horses, but definitely enough to get you going… And definitely enough to take the Prius out of the “boring” segment and into the “normal” segment when it comes to acceleration.
The technology on offer ranges from the aforementioned Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 to the 12.3 inch wide multimedia screen. The former includes systems such as one of the best adaptive cruise controls, a great lane-tracking assistant, pre-collision helpers, and a myriad of other features. The latter - the screen - is your door to everything having to do with the car. Music, vehicle settings, the navigation system, and your wireless Apple CarPlay or AndroidAuto all live here.
The look of the Prius is not so much a Prius as you know it. The lines are sharper, the stance is wider and more aggressive, and the overall aura is not that of a boring Prius but that of a modern, refined, and fun Prius.
The rear half of the Prius somehow looks smaller than the front half - even though halves are just that, halves. This is probably mainly due to the elongated - and very slanted - hood and the oversized front windshield giving the car a stretched feeling. The rear door at first glance looks awkwardly smaller than the front door, but on closer examination this is not quite the case. What throws the mind off, I think, is the fact that the rear door handle is hidden in the c-pillar. Add the short and stumpy-looking rear to the elongated front and you get just enough of a unique design to draw some extra looks and turn some heads.
Most of the interior of the Prius is very Toyota-esque - the wide-screen infotainment system, most knobs and buttons, and the overall fit and finish - but there is one thing that sticks out: the steering wheel. The way the buttons on the steering wheel are separated from the wheel itself doesn’t look like the other cars in the Toyota lineup. It does, however, resemble the steering wheels of former Priuses, where the steering wheel mounted buttons were either on their own plastic part or within a separate space with a different color.
The Limited trim level offers a bunch of convenience and comfort features, but even in its stripped down trim, the new Prius is a comfortable car for both driver and passengers. Speaking of passengers, I’m happy to report that a family with three pre-teen kids can fit into the Prius. The kids - in the rear seats - aren’t squished together, nor are their legs all crammed in. In fact, they seem to have plenty of space back there.
What’s more, the front seats are comfortable for both short and long(er) drives. Would the Prius be the first choice for a long road-trip? No, but most of us can’t buy a car based on our needs during that one road trip we do each year. For the regular family the Prius will definitely do well for the day-to-day journeys, and it will definitely suffice for the one-off road trips too!
Driving A Prius
If you compare with an older Prius, the new Prius is way more exciting to drive. Is it a sports sedan, no, but it has never been meant to rival sports sedans. Does it hug corners like the GR Corolla or GR86? No, definitely not. But, the new iteration of the Toyota Prius has removed all of the soggy Prius heritage and replaced it with driving characteristics on par with other “regular Joe” cars. It handles well in corners, as long as you take said corners at a speed appropriate for driving a car full of people you like. It will accelerate to the flow of traffic when getting on a freeway with ease - it’ll even do well when gunning it to get going when passing.
So, who is the Prius for? Actually, the new Prius is a solid contender for a lot of car buyers. It’ll do just as well as a family car as it will for the young bachelor(ette). The former will enjoy the spacious interior, the solid driving characteristics, and the great gas-milage while the latter, beyond that list, will earn grown-up points with their friends - who might be driving less intelligent vehicles.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.