2023 Toyota Prius Review: Not Ready For an EV? This Could Be the Perfect Alternative

This redesign is seriously worth your time and could tide you over if you're on the fence about an EV

 Cool looks (Yes, I mean it) Lower roofline robs some space
50+ MPG Rear, over-shoulder visibility (again, thank the low roof)
Way better performance (and better handling
chops than you’d expect)
Not as much cargo volume as before
Available AWD
Comfortable seats and ride

I never thought I’d call the 2023 Toyota Prius “cool”, but here we are.

For the past two decades and four generations, the Toyota Prius has been, to put it generously, a dorkmobile. Sure, it gained a reputation as the byword for hybrids with its excellent fuel economy, but it always lacked the power to get out of its own way and brought styling choices ranging from bland to bizarre. This new Prius, though, is a completely different animal. The fifth-generation model brings a completely new and far better look, a (mostly) well-executed interior, and you still get up to 57 mpg.

The news just keeps on getting better as you check the important bits off your shopping list. This 2023 Toyota Prius, even in its standard hybrid form, gets a massive power bump from 121 horsepower all the way up to 194 (or 196, for AWD models). Unlike the older cars, this WX60 model actually brings some decent handling chops, offering up precise steering and a ride that’s actually communicative while still being comfortable on long trips.

Then there’s the price. At $35,560, this Limited model (in Cutting Edge silver, no less) is about as reasonable as you can get for a new car right now, ever mind the fact that the more efficient LE kicks off the range at $28,545. No matter which way you slice it, the new Prius is a far more interesting proposition than its predecessors, bringing the great fuel economy without all the dorky downsides.

That said, it’s not like the 2023 Toyota Prius is without any competition.

Setting aside the rise of electric car options — more on that later — the market is ripe with affordable hybrids. Not only is there the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid and the forthcoming Honda Civic Hybrid, but there’s Toyota’s own Corolla Hybrid which is even more affordable. So, is this car the best possible option?

Trust me, you will feel the difference, even if you don’t buy the Prime

Even before diving deeper into the way the 2023 Toyota Prius looks, let’s cover how it drives. Why bother? Because — and again, I never thought I’d see the day — this model actually has some decent grunt. Now, it’s no sports car and Toyota never intends it to be, but you still get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with a meatier electric motor. You do still get a continuously variable transmission here, but the way it handles the available power is admirably smooth and makes passing maneuvers cool, collected and predictable.

That 194 horsepower on tap brings the 0-60 time down to a perfectly reasonable 7 second range, all while managing well over 50 miles to every gallon. Remember, the old one took nearly 11 soul-crushing seconds to hit highway speeds…all while pissing off motorists stuck behind it.

While it’s not a huge economy improvement on the outgoing model, getting roughly the same range (up to 644 miles on a tank, according to EPA figures) and worthwhile performance still blows my mind. If you still want a bit more shove, you can go for the pricier Prius Prime. That ups the output to 220 horsepower, and Tommy reviewed that model over on TFLEV.

Apart from finally getting enough power to get out of its own way, the 2023 Toyota Prius also brings larger brakes and a compliant ride to the party. Dare I say it, this new model handles notably well. There’s no alarming body roll or dreadful understeer if you do get a little exuberant, while the brake feel, particularly the way Toyota handles blended braking with the regen system and actual friction brakes, feels fairly natural, as you’d expect in any other gas car.

The styling does compromise practicality a bit

I’m hardly alone in saying it, but the 2023 Toyota Prius is truly night and day when it comes to styling, both inside and out. Especially when I spend my own money, I don’t want to come out and think, “Ugh, why did I buy this car?”, every time I make the morning commute. Plenty of folks turned their heads as I drove past, while the Prius offered me plenty of interesting tidbits to mull over as I effortlessly covered hundreds of miles.

From the driver’s seat, it took some effort to find anything worth complaining about. One gripe is down to the instrument cluster: Depending on how you adjust the steering wheel, you can cut off some of the lower portions of the screen and the information it displays, like the range to empty. Speaking of the steering wheel, while it is perfectly sized, you can’t adjust it upward to any meaningful extent if you’re a taller driver. So, you have an annoying choice: Cut off parts of the screen or move the steering wheel down into your knees.

That’s a relatively minor complaint, though, next to the lack of headroom for taller occupants.

That’s a consequence of the lower roofline, as is the rear seat space (or lack of it), once the rear passengers figure out where the handles/buttons to open the doors are hidden. Cargo capacity also dwindles in the 2023 Toyota Prius to 20.3 cubic feet on this Limited model. The XLE gets the same rating, while the base LE fares slightly better at 23.8 cubic feet. At any rate, they’re all worse than the outgoing car, which could take up to 27.4 cubic feet of stuff at a pinch. Thanks once again to the roof line, the new Prius takes a hit in the rearward visibility department, as well.

Still, the 2023 Toyota Prius is absolutely worth your time, and may help bridge the gap toward a full EV.

On the whole, the new Prius is still a star, in my book. I’m not quite ready to jump into a full EV just yet, but I appreciate the efficiency and lower purchase and running costs on offer here until that situation changes. I love taking road trips, and getting 50-plus mpg in a stylish package that’s actually good to drive ticks all the boxes for a solid companion.

The only real downside, at least against the last generation, is the cargo and rear passenger space. It’s still bettetr than a Corolla, though, not to mention this car feels much more refined.

You may still want to give the Prius a hard pass because of its reputation, but it’s worth giving it your consideration. With the new look, fresh tech, including a 12.3-inch infotainment screen that’s standard on Limited and optional on XLE models, and the fuel economy that will come in handy when fuel prices inevitably rise again, it could just be a winner all around.