The Toyota Prius Has Finally Arrived

2023 Toyota Prius Limited

Price: $42,990 CAD

Colour: Reservoir Blue

When Toyota introduced the Prius over 20 years ago it was regarded by many as a joke. It didn’t look very good and contained not one drop of sexiness or masculinity. Despite this it did find its place in the world among two groups – the environmentally minded and cab drivers. This has largely sustained the vehicle and kept Toyota making them as well as rolling out hybrid powertrains to many other vehicles. For 2023 Toyota decided that the Prius had earned itself an all-new suit. This time Toyota did the Prius a solid and went for Armani instead of Wal-Mart.

Power & Performance

The 2023 Toyota Prius comes with only one powerplant. The 2.0L combined with the electric drivetrain gives you 196hp. This is a sufficient amount of horsepower for a vehicle of this size and it motors along rather nicely. It won’t kick you very hard in the kidneys but it does get you moving. The switch between the electric and ICE engines is relatively seamless and the combination delivers some exceptional fuel economy. I averaged 5.7L/100kms (42mpg) and that’s a fantastic number for a vehicle that seats 4/5 comfortably and also has AWD.

I wasn’t expecting much from the suspension on the Prius. I expected it to be wallowy and soft without inspiration or confidence. I was pleasantly surprised by how solid the setup was on the Prius. It provides feedback and a pleasant driving experience. The car went in the direction I pointed it and held the line every time.

Exterior

The 2023 Prius caused a sensation upon its release because, compared to the previous generation, it was beautiful. Finally, Toyota had realized that just because the tech under the hood was new and progressive it didn’t mean the car had to look like one of those “future” cars from an 80’s time travel film. You could in fact just make it a normal looking four-door sedan with some style. They must have been paying attention to what Hyundai was doing. They didn’t make a big deal about that stuff either and look how that’s worked out for them.

Interior

The interior of previous generations of the Prius were okay but never felt as modern as other cars of the same generation. This always felt like a deliberate decision on the part of Toyota as they felt they could skimp on the interior as the drive train is what sold the car. Since they were giving the outside a desperately needed dose of plastic surgery they opted to upgrade the interior bits as well and it is quite the difference. Nothing revolutionary in here but it now feels like a proper car inside and it’s great to see.

Many manufacturers are opting for synthetic “leather-like” alternatives to the real deal. This typically produces a pretty shabby pvc-based material that feels nothing like leather and leaves you feeling like less of a person. Toyota’s fake stuff is called “soft-tex” and I must admit, I often forgot it wasn’t actual leather. It was soft, supple and very comfortable. If you’re going to do synthetic, this is the way to go.

Standard across all Prius’ in the 2023 range is a panoramic glass roof. It’s broken into two parts to allow for a strengthening beam, but it doesn’t take way from the look and effect. It allows a lot of light into the car, particularly for the rear passengers. From the outside you can see it’s a single pane of glass. The only downside was it’s fixed in place. There is no sunroof component. I’m certain this is a cost savings but it should have a sunroof.

The 2023 Prius features heated seats in both the front and back. This is a nice upgrade as you don’t always get heated seats in the rear. You also get ventilated seats up front and a heated steering wheel. Toyota could have opted to cut corners here but they held fast and included the equipment we want in a car of this price point.

The 12” infotainment screen is excellent. It’s not only large but the resolution is sharp and clear. This is matched by the images coming from the cameras as they are also crisp and focused. It makes the whole system a pleasure to use. Also included in the infotainment is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both work well and I had no connectivity issues during my time with the car.

The Prius comes with all the standard toys. Included is a wireless charging slot. The one in the Prius will accommodate most sized phones, cases included which is good to see. It also has a power switch. I didn’t immediately understand what this is for but it then occurred to me that given the orientation of the console it was most convenient to have my phone in the slot at all time but you don’t always need to charge it. Since we’re on the topic of wireless charging I should note that my son was charging his phone for about 20 minutes in the slot and it got so hot that it actually shut the phone down. I didn’t experience the same extreme with my phone, but it also got very warm while it was in the slot.

Should you opt for the Limited trim like the test vehicle I drove, you get an upgraded JBL stereo. It’s an excellent system that would go as loud as my old ears could handle.

My only real issue with the interior of the Prius is the rear seat room. Not only is it a little tight around the legs but in order to get that sleak look on the outside they had to take form the headroom in the rear. Even at my impish height of 5’8”, I was brushing the ceiling.

Quality

The 2023 Prius is a huge upgrade over the previous generation and I saw no real issues with how the car is built. There were a wide variety of color and type of plastics on display inside the car but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as none of them were thin or flimsy. The drive system was smooth and reliable and delivered the fuel economy it should.

CQI – 8. Good quality carpet.

Value

In a marketplace full of hybrid options, the Prius sits firmly in the middle. There is plenty of competition, particularly from the likes of Hyundai, but the Prius is a real contender. It’s not only pretty but full of all the equipment it should, and it delivers on its promise of superior fuel economy. If a hybrid sedan is in your future, go drive a Prius.

Final Thoughts

Despite its humble origins the Prius has been reborn into a truly modern piece of motoring. I enjoyed my time with this car and couldn’t find much to complain about. It’s now very pretty, loaded with tech and made well. I can’t ask for much more. Add to that a solid driving experience and the fact that it’s a bit of a unicorn in the sense that it’s a four door sedan, the Prius is a real winner.

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