Toyota Prius Prime XSE Premium 2023 – Review by David Coleman + Video
A green triumph of engineering that does not require a ten-hour recharge
For repeat enjoyment
For repeat enjoyment
Photos and story by David Coleman
Special correspondent for the Automotive Channel
Earlier this year we tested the completely redesigned Toyota Prius and found out just how good a hybrid it is. The 2023 Prius Prime takes the refreshed design to the next level of economy and performance by adding an additional option to enhance the ownership experience. The EPA expects that if you drive a Prime on electric power alone, you’ll get 29 miles before running out of charge. Although we didn’t push the range, some reported traveling 44 miles on a single charge. Recharging time is estimated at only 4 hours at 240V. But the beauty of hybrid operation is that you won’t be stuck for 4 hours before completing a 60-mile round trip — because Toyota equipped the latest Prius with a significantly upgraded internal combustion engine.
Toyota has ditched the previous Prius Prime’s weak 121-hp, 1.8-liter inline-4 in favor of a 160-hp 2.0-liter inline-4. When you combine the new gas engine with the output of a pair of electric motors driving the front wheels (and the gearbox), the combined output jumps to 220 hp, an increase of 99 hp over last year’s Prius Prime. In terms of power-to-weight ratio, the new drivetrain improves the number from 25.45 lb/hp last year to just 16.07 lb/hp this year. This massive gain results in the 2023 Prius Prime being able to do a standing quarter mile in 15.1 seconds at 94 mph and clock a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds. With those kinds of numbers, this Prius is a front-runner for sports sedan of the year. In fact, its outstanding performance gives PP a new name of its own: Primus.
Choose the XSE Premium trim if you like an eco-friendly Toyota rather than a regular car. Among the nice features not available on lesser models are the SofTex trim front seats. Our test Prius was equipped with heating and ventilation for all four seats. Adding this feature to the rear costs an additional $350. While these chairs looked good, they didn’t provide enough lateral support to counter the impressive cornering forces this small sedan is capable of generating. You can attribute the Prime’s new-found handling miracle to its new ultra-rigid and lightweight TNGA-C chassis. Toyota reports that this design is stiffer than its predecessor while weighing less. The new platform’s lower center of gravity improves cornering power. Toyota takes advantage of this chassis improvement by equipping the Prime XSE Premium with an ultra-sticky set of Toyo Extensa A/S II (195/50R19) tires with a TW 300 wear rating.
If you select the LE or XSE Prius, the audio multimedia display above the dash measures 8.0 inches. But opt for the In addition to the enlarged screen, the Premium grade also offers a wide range of Formica-like inlaid materials that stretch across the entire dashboard in one impressive space. Its tomato red shade matches the plush stripes on the seat cushions. Our Prime tester was also equipped with an optional $610 solar charging roof that provides the Prius with additional power for the AC, fan, and entertainment without lowering the car’s battery charge. Another $1,085 went to the Advanced Technology package that equipped the “Advanced Park” facility with a corresponding panoramic display so you can assess your position in relation to the sidewalk and other vehicles. We passed on using this service because we enjoy parking without AI assistance.
Toyota equipped our Prius test car with a $200 “digital rearview mirror” that can also be used as a traditional mirror by flipping a switch. Given the Prime’s streamlined exterior, rear visibility is poor through the small, flat backlight. Hence, a digital image makes sense for such an application. But the image from the mirror, while vivid, was never as sharp as we need it to be for traffic control (and cops). But when we switched to the traditional mirror, we realized that the back-seat headrests blocked most of the view out the back. Removing the headrests and placing them on the floor opened up a decent viewing corridor in the rear. But Toyota needs to equip the Prime with a standard rear wiper for the flat rear window.
The Plug-In Prime in XSE Premium is a sedan we’d seriously consider owning. Don’t be surprised if these ingenious electric/gas hybrids start showing up on drag strips and road tracks across America in the near future. It’s a green triumph of engineering and doesn’t require a ten-hour recharge for repeated enjoyment.
Toyota Prius Beam XSE Premium 2023
- Engine: 2.0L, 4-cylinder in-line, DOHC, 16-valve + 2-cylinder AC
Horsepower: 220 hp (combined)
Torque: Not available
Fuel economy: 114 mpg/48 mpg on gas only
Price as tested: $43,088
Hype: Prime Locker, Inner Peach
colic: Needs deeper front seats
Star rating: 10 stars out of 10
©2023 David E. Coleman