Toyota has been getting criticized from some quarters recently for not moving fast enough to become an all-electric automaker like some of its rivals, but it has reasons.

The company thinks hybrids are a more affordable way to reduce greenhouse gases and stretch battery supplies farther since many of them can be made with the same number of cells needed for just one EV.

It does have one of those on sale now called the bZ4X, however, and is ramping up its efforts in the zero-emissions space as it keeps rolling out the hybrid hits.

There are a total of 20 of them on sale in the U.S. across the Toyota and Lexus brands today, including the latest version of the granddaddy of them all — the Prius.


toyota prius

The Prius Prime is all new for 2023. (Fox News Digital)

The iconic model is now entering its 22nd year and fifth generation, but there’s never been one quite like it.

After two decades of prioritizing function over form, the latest Prius has been given a kind of sleek styling that has people literally stopping and pointing at it. In a good way. 

I heard one child ask his father excitedly, "Is that a Prius!? Wow!" The youths are into it.

prius rear

The Prius Prime has a 220-horsepower plug-in hybrid drivetrain. (Fox News Digital)

The design is actually less aerodynamically efficient than the previous generation, which was a very odd duck optimized to reduce drag at all costs. But it’s improved appeal can’t be denied. The wide-body wedge shape has been inspiring custom car builders to modify it into mean-looking street machines, and Toyota has even released a teaser image suggesting a performance or racing version is in the works.

prius gr teaser

Toyota is teasing a performance version of the Prius. (Toyota)

The Prius is available as a standard hybrid or the plug-in Prius Prime that we tested. Prices for the Prius Prime range from $33,445 to $40,265, depending on the trim. Since it's made in Japan, it doesn't qualify for any federal electric vehicle purchase tax credits, but they can be incorporated into a lease.

Hybrid fuel economy ratings range from 52 mpg to 48 mpg, but the Prius Prime is also capable of all-electric driving over short distances, from 39 miles to 44 miles per charge. That’s enough to cover the daily mileage of many drivers and only requires a 13.6 kilowatt-hour battery, compared to the 71.4 kilowatt-hour pack in the bZ4X, which has a range of 252 miles. 

The variance in fuel economy and range among the Prius Primes mostly comes down to the different tires used on each trim, which affect drag and rolling resistance.

prius motor

The Prius Prime's powertrain uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with electric assist. (Fox News Digital)

The drivetrain combines a four-cylinder engine with electric assist to provide a total of 220 horsepower, although that drops to 161 horsepower in all-electric mode. Operating as a hybrid at full power, it can accelerate to 60 mph in a brisk 6.6 seconds.

The cabin is roomy enough for four 6-foot passengers to fit comfortably, but the hair of passengers in the rear may be brushing the headliner, and they don’t get their own air vents. The dashboard has a large touchscreen display for the infotainment system but also a lot of physical buttons and toggles for many primary controls.

prius dash

The Prius Prime has a digital instrument cluster and touchscreen infotainment system. (Toyota)

The oddest thing about the interior is the digital instrument cluster, which is in a pod high on the dashboard. This makes it difficult not to block at least part of it with the steering wheel. The wheel feels like it's from a luxury car, however, and the interior is of good quality overall.


The 20.3-cubic-foot cargo area is spacious but compromised in height by the sloping roof. The portable charging cable and a flat-fixing kit fits in a storage space under the floor.

prius storage

Charging takes four hours on a 240-volt outlet. (Fox News Digital)

Since it’s a hybrid and won’t strand anyone on a long trip when the battery goes low, Toyota didn’t give it fast charging capability. A recharge takes four hours on a 240-volt charger and 11 hours plugged-in to a standard home outlet.

Even if you run out of both charge and gas there’s a way to keep driving … if you’re patient. The top-of-the-line XSE Premium trim is available with a 185-watt solar roof for $610 that can recharge the battery.

prius solar

The Prius Prime is available with a 185-watt solar roof. (Fox News Digital)

It only provides one or two kilowatts per sunny day, enough for about 3-6 miles of driving, but over the course of a few years it could pay for itself, as long as you remember to park it outside.

prius rear seat

The compact four-door has room for four 6-foot passengers. (Toyota)

You’ll want as many miles worth of power as you can get because the Prius Prime is as smooth and sporty as it looks. The ride comfort and handling are excellent, and the hybrid power provides a good dose of fun. It’s also quiet and eats up the miles, especially with the standard Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 package’s lane-tracing adaptive cruise control engaged.


The Prius lost its best-selling hybrid crown to the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid in 2019, and while the new one isn’t likely to reclaim it thanks to the market’s growing preference for SUVs, it is royally good.


2023 Toyota Prius Prime

Base price: $33,445

As tested: $40,875

Type: 5-passenger, front-wheel-drive 4-door hatchback

Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder with hybrid assist and plug-in capability

Transmission: CVT automatic

Power: 220 horsepower

Transmission: CVT automatic

MPG: 48 combined

Range: 39 miles