2023 Toyota Prius Limited Review – Finally a Worthy Choice


2023 toyota prius limited review finally a worthy choice

The Toyota Prius was once reviled by most enthusiasts and often the butt of jokes, even in pop culture. Prius drivers were stereotyped as left-lane camping, NPR-listening, Green Party-voting smug virtue-signalers.

That stereotype was often unfair and inaccurate. But it was based in one truth – the Prius might save you a lot of gas but man it was no fun to drive. Nor did it offer much in the way of creature comfort. It was all about passing up gas pumps.

The 2023 Toyota Prius changes the narrative without sacrificing the core mission. Something I didn’t think could be done.

I’ve driven many a Prius over the years, and the 2023 version is the first one I’d even think about owning for any reason other than fuel mileage.

2023 toyota prius limited review finally a worthy choice

I never thought I’d see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. I never thought I’d see the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl and I never thought Las Vegas would get a hockey team, let alone one that won a Stanley Cup just six seasons in. I also thought I’d never see a Prius that could be even a little bit fun to drive.

Well, I have lived long enough to see all of these things.

To be sure, the Prius is no sports car. But you can actually attack an on ramp with some confidence now. A road trip to Detroit and back wasn’t too punishing. And yes, the fuel mileage was still excellent.

The Prius is still not a burner, but the increased power provided by the 2.0-liter four-cylinder/electric motor pairing – 194 horsepower now for front-wheel drive models like my test car, and 139 lb-ft of torque for all models – erases the pokiness of the past and brings the car up to date. You still won’t win a lot if you drag-race this car, but you will be able to much more easily keep up with the flow of traffic.

2023 toyota prius limited review finally a worthy choice

Similarly, you won’t buy this car for its cornering ability, but it no longer feels like any level of aggression will overcome the tires and send you into the bushes. The ride is a bit stiff, but mostly acceptable, even for longer stints behind the wheel.

The exterior styling is more appealing now, rounding off the wedge shape into something that’s easier on the eyes.

Inside, the gauge cluster sits well ahead of the steering wheel, meaning said steering wheel sometimes obscures your view of the instruments. The large infotainment screen is sort of plopped on, and there are too many buttons and not enough knobs. The shifter is a bit wonky. It’s not as cohesive as the outside, and it’s not as user-friendly as I’d like, but the cabin is still somehow a step up from before. Once again, Toyota’s new infotainment system shines.

My biggest gripe was an intrusion of outside noise above 60 mph. The cacophony is livable for a while, but after driving across Michigan I felt like I’d just left a concert. I get it – sound deadening equals fuel-economy killing weight. And there are worse offenders out there. Still, if you want Lexus quiet from your hybrids, you’ll need to, you know, buy a Lexus.

2023 toyota prius limited review finally a worthy choice

Then again, a Lexus will cost a lot more. This Prius wasn’t a bargain at $38K, but that’s still under the average transaction price these days and within reach for plenty of folks.

The starting price tag here was a tick under $35K, and standard features included 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and DRLs, rain-sensing wipers, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, power liftgate, a fixed glass roof, keyless entry and starting, digital key, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, and wireless cell phone charging.

Toyota’s SafetySense 3.0 suite of driver’s aids was standard and included pre-collision assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and safe exit assist.

2023 toyota prius limited review finally a worthy choice

Options included a digital rearview mirror, panoramic view monitor, heated rear seats, and a dash cam.

Out the door price? $38,019.

Fuel economy is listed at 52 mpg across the board for city/highway/combined. According to the computer, I got about 44.9 mpg — and the computer wasn’t reset when I picked up the car. Some possibly suspect back of envelope math based on my notes showed about 48 mpg. Either way, good numbers though real-world fuel economy often falls short of the EPA rating, as it did here.

The Prius is still no sports sedan or sexy luxury ride. But it’s also no longer a penalty box that sacrifices performance and comfort at the altar of fuel economy.

2023 toyota prius limited review finally a worthy choice

Instead, it’s now a “have your cake and eat it too” situation. You get a commuter car that sips fuel while still having some popular convenience features and the ability to have a mild bit of fun.

That finally makes the Prius a worthy choice for those who are looking for more than just a cheap fuel bill.

Things change, sometimes for the better. Maybe the Detroit Lions are next in line for a championship.

[Images © 2024 Tim Healey/TTAC.com]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Source link