2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE Premium – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A green triumph of engineering that doesn't require a ten hour recharge
for repeat enjoyment
for repeat enjoyment
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Earlier this year we tested the completely redesigned Toyota Prius and discovered just how good a hybrid can be. The 2023 Prius Prime takes the revamped design to the next level of economy and performance by adding a plug-in option to sweeten the ownership experience. The EPA predicts that if you drive the Prime on electric-only power, you will cover 29 miles before running out of charge. Although we didn't press the range envelope, some have reported traveling 44 miles on a single charge. Recharge time is estimated at just 4 hours at 240v. But the beauty of hybrid operation is that you won't be stuck for a 4-hour recharge before completing a 60-mile round trip - because Toyota has provided the latest Prius with a substantially upgraded internal combustion engine.
Toyota has ditched the former Prius Prime's' weak-kneed 121hp, 1.8 liter inline-4 in favor of a 2.0 liter inline-4 making 160hp. When you combine the new gas engine with output from a pair of electric motors driving the front wheels (and gearbox), the combined output rating jumps to 220hp, a 99hp increase over last year's Prius Prime. In terms of the power-to-weight ratio, The new drivetrain improves the number from last year's 25.45lb/hp to just 16.07lb/hp this year. That monumental gain results in a 2023 Prius Prime capable of cutting a standing start quarter mile in 15.1 seconds @ 94mph and posting a 0-to-60mph time of 6.5 seconds. With those kinds of numbers, this Prius is a Prime candidate for sports sedan of the year. In fact, its outstanding performance entitles the PP to a new name of its own: Primus.
Opt for the XSE Premium grade if you like your eco-Toyota fancy rather than plain. Among the niceties not available on lesser variants are handsome SofTex trimmed front seats. Our test Prius was equipped with heating and ventilation for all four seats. Adding this feature to the rears cost an extra $350. While these chairs looked good, they didn't provide enough lateral support to counteract the impressive cornering forces this diminutive sedan is capable of generating. You can attribute the Prime's new found handling prodigy to its new, ultra-stiff but lightweight TNGA-C skeletal architecture. Toyota reports that this design is more rigid than its predecessor while weighing less. The new platform's lower center of gravity improves cornering bite. Toyota capitalizes on this chassis improvement by equipping the Prime XSE Premium with an ultra sticky set of Toyo Extensa A/S II radials (195/50R19) with a wear rating of TW 300.
If you select an LE or XSE Prius, your dash-top audio multimedia display measures 8.0 inches. But opt for the XSE Premium grade and the screen size jumps to a whopping 12.3 inches, which is just large enough to read the small print on record album covers displayed via SiriusXM radio (3 month free trail). In addition to the enlarged screen, the Premium grade also affords a sweep of inlaid Formica-like material which sweeps across the entire dash in one impressive expanse. Its tomato-red shade matches the rakish striping on the seat cushions. Our test Prime was also equipped with a $610 optional solar charging roof which provides auxiliary power to the Prius for AC, fan, and entertainment without drawing down the car's battery charge. Another $1,085 went for the Advanced Technology Package which supplied "Advanced Park" facility with a corresponding Panoramic View Monitor so you can assess your position in relation to the curb and other vehicles. We passed on using this service as we enjoy parking without AI assistance.
Toyota supplied our test Prius with a $200 "Digital Rearview Mirror" which can also be used as a conventional mirror by flipping a switch. Due to the Prime's streamlined exterior shape, rear vision is poor through the small, flat backlight. Thus, a digital picture makes sense for such an application. But the image from the mirror, while vivid, was never as sharp as we needed to keep an eye on traffic (and cops). But when we switched over to the conventional mirror, we realized that the rear seat headrests were obscuring most of the view out the back. Removing the headrests and stowing them on the floor opened a decent view corridor aft. But Toyota needs to supply the Prime with a standard rear wiper for the flat back glass.
The Plug-In Prime in XSE Premium trim, is a sedan we would seriously consider owning. Don't be surprised if these ingenious electric/gas hybrids start showing up on drag strips and road courses across America in the near future. It's a green triumph of engineering that doesn't require a ten hour recharge for repeat enjoyment.
2023 TOYOTA PRIUS PIME XSE PREMIUM
ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline-4, DOHC 16-valve + 2 AC Motors
HORSEPOWER: 220hp (Combined)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 114MPGe/48MPG Gas Only
PRICE AS TESTED: $43,088
HYPES: Prime Looker, Peachy Interior
GRIPES: Needs Deeper Bucket Front Seats
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10
©2023 David E Colman