I’m A Multigenerational Prius Owner, And The 2023 Toyota Prius Dazzles Me

A first drive of the 2023 Toyota Prius has me wondering - Should I buy another? It's the prettiest Prius, ever, it has better tech and MPG, and my surfboard fits - Inside!

2023 Prius Limited
2023 Prius Limited with the writer, Kymri Wilt.

The new generation of Prius takes design to a whole new level.

I have been a Toyota Prius driver for 17 years, and we have two Prius generations in our family (2006 and 2016). My daughter was still in a car seat when the 2006 Prius joined our household. From car seat to driver’s seat, she grew up in that car and learned to drive in it. Eventually, it became hers when I moved up into a then-new 2016 Prius. Now, just as her trusty 2006 version closes in on 200,000 miles, Prius hails in a whole new 5th generation to capture not only her attention…but MINE. When I first laid eyes on the 2023 Toyota Prius sleek re-design, my heart skipped a beat. I was intrigued. The improved combined fuel-efficiency rating of 57 MPG makes this the most fuel-efficient Prius hybrid to date. The 2023 Toyota Prius price ranges from $27,450 (LE model, front wheel drive) to $35,865 (Limited model, all wheel drive), keeping Prius firmly in the market category of an “actually affordable” hybrid. Numbers aside, the 2023 re-design brings Prius into a whole new league – birthing a stunning new generation of hybrid while maintaining the Prius genetics we know and love.

Related: Looking for a Hybrid Sedan With Electric Driving? Say Hi to the 2022 Toyota Prius Prime PHEV Electric Car

2023 Toyota Prius Xle From Above.

2023 Toyota Prius XLE with fixed glass roof trim. Photo: Kymri Wilt

Why Doesn’t it Look Like a Prius?

For one, the 2023 Prius model is longer and shorter, so it doesn’t scream Prius at first glance. Rather, it subtly suggests a classier and sportier ride. The 2023 Prius looks nothing like my 2016 Prius or my first 2006 Prius. This is not last year’s model with a few subtle tweaks. Unlike all the versions before it, this 2023 Prius is a stunning head-turner with a clean aerodynamic silhouette and sporty styling.

This left me to question…is it even a Prius? Thankfully, it most definitely is. The side profile is strikingly similar to, dare I say, a Lamborghini, with similar stretched-oval window contours and lowered center of gravity. The back door handles are recessed, adding to the sporty and aerodynamic design silhouette. And to top it off, a standard fixed glass roof tops the LTD model, and is an option for the XLE. With or without, all models have scrapped the plastic rear side panel in favor of an unbroken streamline contour and classier profile. Sporty alloy wheels look right at home, and the sexy headlight and tail light lines hint at elegant diamond jewelry. The only place “PRIUS” appears is on the rear hatchback.

Related: The 2023 Toyota Prius Builds On Its Status As An Icon. Will You Recognize It?

Tighter Turns And Cornering In The 2023 Toyota Prius.

Tighter turns and cornering in the 2023 Prius. Photo: Kymri Wilt (GoPro)

The New Prius is a Seamless Transition for Prius Devotees

Sitting in the driver’s seat felt like I was getting into my own Prius, no surprise there. My familiar Prius seats and seat adjusters, with the LTD now including driver memory settings for up to two drivers. I’m not sure when this became an inclusion, but I’m glad it has because parking valets seem to have much longer legs than me. But there’s something else that’s new with the seats. In addition to driver and passenger seat heaters, the LTD comes with seat ventilators! Given that southern California is ground zero for the US Prius market, I feel like they did this just for us. Our cars are subject to year round sunshine – the dark upholstery gets hot – and let’s face it, we live in shorts and don’t enjoy sticking to the seats. Thank you for that, Toyota! The steering wheel has kept its character, with the same intuitively placed button positions that allow me to rely on muscle memory without guessing or having to look down.

Related: Toyota bZ4X: Toyota’s First Full Electric Car is Designed to Delight … And Prius Fans Will Rejoice 

2023 Toyota Prius Limited Interior

2023 Prius Limited Interior. Photo: Toyota

Some Welcome Considerations for Next Generation of Prius Drivers

To keep my gaze forward, and new for 2023, the dash display has (finally) moved from the center to directly in front of the driver. While the soft roundness of the previous dash has been scraped in favor of portruding monitors, the display placement is a welcome one and will ease the transition for drivers ready to step into the world of Prius. Also welcoming is the multimedia interface screen set where you’d expect, along with climate controls in reach of both driver and passenger.

2023 Toyota Prius

2023 Prius LTD in Resevoir Blue. Photo: Toyota

Getting up to Speed is Easy in the 2023 Toyota Prius

The dynamic performance improvements made my first drive experience even more of a “wow” than the eye-catching new look. Most noticeably, the 60% increase in overall horsepower meant that acceleration was quick and responsive, taking me from 0-60 in 7 seconds. Gone are the days of the slow freeway entry, and the obligatory thank you wave to drivers who let me creep in (usually another Prius driver). The 2023 Prius merges in, keeps up, and hold its own on freeway driving. Acceleration is smoother and quieter, and it doesn’t feel like I’m straining the engine to get up to speed. Before I know it, I’m in the carpool lane with none of the usual suspects right on my tail. It’s really quite entertaining to pass another car to my right, exchanging glances with a puzzled yet intrigued driver wondering “what car is THAT?”

2023 Toyota Prius Awd In Cutting Edge.

The 2023 Prius LTD AWD in Cutting Edge Silver. Photo: Kymri Wilt

Taking the Turns and Making the Rounds is Much Improved

Because the 2023 Toyota Prius profile is lower by 2 inches, the center of gravity has also dropped. This makes it feel more like driving a sports car. The XLE and Limited models include larger 19” wheels (17” on the base model LE), further contributing to the sporty look and performance.

I put the sportiness to the test on some windy backroads, and the handling was a dream. As a passenger, I am prone to motion sickness on those roads. However, when I sat shotgun and my drive partner took the curves, I felt far more stable and at one with this Prius, rather than jolting side to side and clenching the seat and door handle. Back in my neighborhood streets, I noticed significant improvement in turning and rounding corners in the Limited grade I drove (and specs show the LE grade is even a bit tighter). The tightness made it easier to get in and out of parking lot spaces, but the real joy was in the parallel parking. Squeezing in to smaller curb spaces (as Prius often does) is even easier with Front and Rear Parking Assist with automatic braking. If there’s one thing my daughter’s generation struggles with, it’s parallel parking. Here, Prius makes it all too easy for them, but we all benefit from skilled parkers as much as we do skilled drivers.

2023 Toyota Prius Navigation Display And Optional Digital Rear-View Mirror.

2023 Prius Navigation display and optional digital rear-view mirror. Photo: Kymri Wilt

Technology that’s Easier for Boomers and Gen X, and Friendlier for Millenials and Gen Z

Six USB-c charge ports come standard in every model, as well as a pocket slot QI charger. While I didn’t have the luxury of time to connect Apple Car Play during my first-drives, I found it wasn’t even necessary. The voice command has been significantly improved since my 2016 model.  I spoke conversational commands for everything I wanted, from finding favorite music to finding my way, without having to speak slowly or loudly or repeat myself over and over again. I was heard. The built-in navigation is clear and reliable, so why drain the phone down with Google Maps running? Save it for streaming music and podcasts, or hands-free phone calls.

2023 Prius Hatchback Cargo Space And Foldable Flat Cover.

2023 Prius hatchback cargo space and foldable flat cover. Photo: Kymri Wilt

Space and Cargo in the 2023 Toyota Prius

The 2023 Toyota Prius is no different than the generations before in that the rear seats are easy to pop down as needed (60/40 split). The foldable cargo area cover conveniently folds flat – no more bulky bar and retractable shield (which is already broke and stuck in my 2016, though is surprisingly still fine in the 2006). I found it super easy to lower the seatbacks for expanded cargo space. Finally, I performed my usual “but can I fit my surfboard?” test,  and the answer is “yes.” I can easily transport my 8’ surfboard without having to rest the nose on the dash. And there is still room for a passenger and another board…or my car-ride loving dog!

2023 Prius Guardian Gray

Big smiles getting behind the wheel of the 2023 Prius! Photo: John Voelcker

Might the 2023 Toyota Prius be the Next Car in our Family?

My daughter is now grown and making her way in the world, and the 2006 Prius is reaching the end of it’s road. Having driven the 2023 Prius for myself, putting it to the test hands-on and loving everything about it, I rather envision passing down my 2016 (with only 40,000 miles on it) to my daughter and adopting that new 2023 Prius baby for myself! That’s how impressionable my first drive was with the 2023 Toyota Prius. It’s not just a looker, it’s all about the drive.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Toyota’s to preview the 2023 Toyota Prius. Travel and accommodations were paid for, all opinions are my own.

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Based in Cardiff by the Sea, California, Kymri is a freelance travel photographer, writer, and videographer. Between travels, she... More about Kymri WIlt