Toyota Prius Prime — Easy on the eyes, easy on the gas

By Jim Prueter

(October 22, 2023) Start with a complete redesign, add more power — a lot more power — and even better fuel economy than the outgoing model, sportier driving characteristics, 15 additional miles pure all-electric driving range from its plug-in hybrid set up, an overall much more premium feel and voila — you have an all-new Toyota Prius Prime.

While fully electric vehicles are seemingly all the rage these days, the folks at Toyota want you to know that Prius that went from awkwardly ugly to "stylish" in a modern, sporty way with superb fuel economy without going all-in on all-electric and all the hassles that come with owning one.

With just one 100% fully electric vehicle in its lineup the bZ4X, Toyota has been somewhat resistive if not hesitant to go full monty with the EV craze as evidenced by its commitment to being the leader in gas-electric hybrid powertrain vehicles including millions and millions of Prius sold.

Powered by a combined 2.0-liter gas I-4 engine with two electric motors assisted by a 13.6-kWh battery, the Prius Prime puts 220 hp and 139 lb-Ft of torque to its front wheels. With 26 more hp than the standard 2024 Prius and an impressive 100 more than the outgoing Prius Prime, makes it the most powerful Prius ever. When compared to the previous Prius Prime it's also the quickest ever reaching 60 mph in 6.4 seconds compared to the outgoing Prius Prime at 10.5 seconds.

A lithium-ion battery pack got our Prius Prime test car as much as 44 pure electric miles of driving before the battery depleted and the gasoline I-four engine took over. Recharging the depleted battery is a breeze thanks to roof-mounted solar panels that recharge the battery when the Prius is parked. While out motoring the vehicle the roof solar panels powers accessories such as the air-conditioning system. During our week of testing our Prius XSE Premium trim returned an overall average of 50.1 MPG.

Inside, our Prius was as impressively good looking as its exterior with a modern wraparound dash equipped with a large 12.3-inch audio multimedia  center-mounted screen. The shifter is also no longer mounted on the dash and now occupies space on the center console. JBL 8-speaker audio system, Sirius XM, Qi Wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included. Niceties like blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, traffic jam alert, 4G network, power rear lift back, heated and ventilated front seats, optional heated rear seats and heated steering wheel, six USB-C ports all included.

Overall, the new Prius Prime plug-in hybrid drives magnificently and we think the sensible choice and alternative to going all-in on all-electric. For now anyway, this is the smart solution to fuel-efficient, hassle free motoring and saving bucks while doing it.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $40,465
Price as Tested: $43,954
Engine/Transmission: 2.0-Liter gasoline inline four-cylinder engine with 2 AC electric motors that combines for 220 horsepower delivered through a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Fuel Economy: 114 MPGe gas and electricity, 48 MPG gasoline only
Seats: 5
Where Built: Aichi, Japan

Crash Test Safety Ratings: Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Competes With:
Honda Accord Hybrid
Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Toyota Corolla Hybrid
Toyota Crown Hybrid

Excellent fuel economy
Sharp new styling
Excellent performance and handling

Compromised rear visibility
Limited rear seat headroom
Fussy operating controls