The 2023 Toyota Prius Prime offers a winning combination of style, efficiency, and affordability
One of the best-known names when it comes to hybrids is the Toyota Prius. Toyota launched the Prius in Japan in 1997, and it was introduced in the North American market in 2000.
The Prius is available as either a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid; the plug-in version is called the Prime.
There are differences between a regular hybrid and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
All hybrids have both a gas engine and an electric motor. On a regular hybrid, the electric motor is used at slower speeds, such as city driving; the gas engine is used for highway driving or when there are added demands, such as acceleration, or using the heater or air conditioning. On a plug-in hybrid, the electric motor can be used as the sole power source in the city or highway. Regular hybrids are recharged only one way, through regenerative braking, meaning each time the brakes are applied, some of the energy is used to charge up the batteries. Plug-in hybrids can also be charged up by plugging them into a wall outlet. PHEVs have larger batteries than regular hybrids.
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I recently tested the latest version of the plug-in Toyota Prius Prime, a compact four-door hatchback. The colour of this XSE model was “Supersonic Red” – a $255 option. That was the only option on the tester, which starts at $42,990. The total price, including shipping and fees, is $45,234. This XSE has such goodies as a larger nav screen, bigger wheels, and more luxury touches, such as an eight-way power driver’s seat. The base SE model comes in at about $5,000 less.
There are plenty of other plug-in hybrids on the market, but the choices are slim for people who want a sedan and not a crossover or SUV. As well as the Prius Prime, there are plug-in hybrid sedans from only a few other automakers, including Bentley, BMW, Porsche and Volvo. But the Prius Prime offers a lower price and longer range.
The Prius Prime has a range of 72 km in electric-only mode, almost double the 40 km range of the previous Prius Prime, which was more than double the 18 km range of the original Prius Prime, which was introduced in 2012. The new Prius Prime also has 220 horsepower, almost double the 120 hp of the previous model.
The Prius Prime is rated by Natural Resources Canada at 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres in city driving (64.2 miles per gallon). The highway rating is 4.6 litres per 100 km. The Prius Prime sits on a wheelbase of 2750 mm (108.3 in.) and is 4599 mm (181 in.) long.
One interior styling feature that sets Prius Prime apart from competitors is the placement of the gauges. Instead of being directly in front of the driver, the gauges are further away from the driver, at the bottom of the windshield.
“The position of the gauges means you don’t need to move your head much to see the information. It’s very close to the location where you are looking at the road,” explains Romaric Lartilleux, Public Relations Manager with Toyota and Lexus Canada.
The arrangement makes a heads-up display – in which key information is projected onto the windshield in the driver’s line of sight – unnecessary. I like that.
However, I found the lettering of the more-distant gauges too small. Maybe it’s just my eyes, but I wish I could adjust the size of the numbers and letters on the Prius Prime’s gauges like I can on my iPhone and computer screen.
Overall, the Prius Prime combines great styling in a hatchback sedan with a wonderful ride, a relatively low price compared with other PHEV sedans, and outstanding fuel economy. All in all, that’s quite a combination – and difficult to beat.
Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.
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