It's also the first-ever Prius not designed using an ugly stick.
The all-new 2023 Toyota Prius hybrid made its debut earlier today in European specification, but the details were light. Following the debut of the American Prius, we have loads more to share.
Let's start with what will undoubtedly be the major talking point - the design. This is the fifth-generation Prius, and it's the first model that didn't begin its life falling from the very top of the ugly tree. The new Prius is the perfect showcase for Toyota's new design direction, which it previewed at the end of last year.
The front end is sporty, the side profile is coupe-like, and the rear looks sublime, with that seemingly single-unit taillight doing the most to give the Prius a wider stance. The new car is obviously quite proud of what it is, with the word "PRIUS" appearing in large letters on the tailgate. In short, you no longer have to be embarrassed about driving the automotive world's vegetable patch.
Both cars use the same 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine as the basis for the hybrid system. A newly-designed lithium-ion battery (both lighter and smaller) is located underneath the rear seat, and, as before, it powers a single electric motor at the front. On all-wheel-drive models, a new Electronic On-Demand AWD system has been adopted. Toyota essentially adds another motor to the rear axle, but the system that operates it is more intelligent than before.
The result is a power output of 194 horsepower in the FWD and 196 hp in the AWD model. This is a big step up from the previous Prius, which only had 121 hp to play with. As a result, the FWD model can get to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, while the additional traction provided by the AWD system will get the car to 60 mph in seven seconds dead.
The plug-in Prius Prime boasts a nearly 100 hp increase. Toyota USA did not mention the battery size, but it's most likely the same as the Euro-spec model. The new 13.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack pushes the power up to 220 hp, resulting in a 0-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds. Can you believe Toyota's famous hybrid now has the kind of straight-line performance that matches the GR 86?
The Prius and Prius Prime are built on the second-generation TNGA-C platform, offering a low center of gravity with reduced weight and increased rigidity compared to the previous generation. The placement of the battery pack also helps lower the center of gravity, but don't expect to see a GR Prius anytime soon.
The Prius' primary mission is saving fuel, so we find it odd that Toyota introduced the new model with just one claimed fuel consumption figure. According to Toyota, the base LE FWD should achieve 57 mpg on the combined cycle, which is better than any model from before apart from the L Eco.
Toyota did say the Prime will have 50% more EV range than the fourth-generation model, which works out to roughly 37-ish miles.
Another significant change is the streamlined trim structure. The standard hybrid is only available in LE, XLE, and Limited trims. The two base cars are lavishly equipped with all the must-have goodies, including an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a host of safety features we'll cover later on.
The Limited gets an all-new 12.3-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia system (plus an eight-speaker JBL sound system) designed and engineered by Toyota's Texas-based Connected Technologies team. It allows for over-the-air updates, and comes with several connected features, including a virtual assistant, that you can summon by saying, "Hey, Toyota." You know the drill by now.
Naturally, all infotainment systems come standard with the usual Bluetooth connectivity and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Prime range consists of the SE, XSE, and XSE Premium, and the standard features are the same, with the XSE Premium being similarly equipped as the Prius Limited.
The entire Prius range ships standard with the latest Toyota Safety Sense generation, TSS 3.0. It includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, Automatic High Beams, and the new Proactive Driving Assist (PDA).
When PDA's operating conditions are met, it provides gentle braking into curves or gentle braking and/or steering to help support driving tasks such as distance control between a preceding vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist. Think of it as a more advanced version of the dynamic radar cruise control mentioned earlier.
Most of the advanced driving assistance features mentioned above boast enhanced detection capabilities thanks to new sensors.
"As a company, we set our sights on developing a new Prius for the future, and our design and engineering teams really delivered," said Toyota group vice president and general manager Dave Christ. "The weight of the Prius name is heavy - it carries with it the identity of an entire category of vehicle powertrain. We're confident the all-new 2023 Prius and Prius Prime will continue this important legacy."
So far, Toyota has sold more than five million Prius hybrids in North America and looking at the new car, it will likely sell a million more during this model's lifecycle. Toyota is still betting big on plug-in technology, as its CEO has publicly stated that the USA's EV-only goals are unrealistic.
The price and on-sale date of the exciting, all-new 2023 Prius will be announced later this year, but we'll have to wait until an undisclosed date in the first half of 2023 to find out more about the Prius Prime.