2023 Toyota Prius Prime XSE Premium, an excellent hybrid choice.


It's been a long time since I first drove a Prius, just over twenty years ago (I was still a young-ish man at that time). It was pretty amazing at that time. I am still awed by how the public embraced the Prius. 

Now all these years later there are many hybrid vehicles from many auto makers. They almost seem passé, EVs have taken the spotlight. But you know what? I prefer a hybrid, even a plug-in hybrid like the Prius Prime. You never have to plug it in (you can if you want to), you never have to search for a working charging station, and the economy is darn good. 

So let's jump right into the economy. The EPA rates the Prius Prime XSE at 50-mpg city, and 48-mpg highway, or 114 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), with an estimated electric driving range of 39 miles. Total driving range (gas and electric) is 550 miles.

If you remember the first Prius you might remember that it looked a bit strange. Styling has caught up and the Prius Prime looks more 'au currant', and that's a good thing in my book. 

The test Prius Prime XSE was painted Guardian Gray. You either like gray or you don't; I don't. I would choose the Reservoir Blue. 

Total net horsepower is a respectable 220. That is made up of 150 h.p. from the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, gas engine, and the remainder from the two electric motor generators. The transmission is a CVT. Acceleration is brisk when in hybrid mode (you can select EV only).

I left the Prius Prime in hybrid-mode. I'm not one to fool around with drive modes except to see the difference. The default mode is fine with me. If you use the EV mode you can recharge the battery at home but it will take 4 hours with 240 volts or 11 hours with 120 volts. The base Prius Prime has an estimated range of 44 miles in EV mode. Toyota says that this covers a daily commute. Maybe, maybe not.

The interior was, in my opinion, a tasteful gray with red accents. The front seats were comfortable and supportive. There was ample room in the rear seat for two adults with the middle position better suited to children.

EPA says there is 26.7 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats down, and 203 behind the rear seats. With the hatch open load and unloading should be easy.

The instrument cluster looks a little sparse but all the pertinent info is right there in front of you. 

The center information screen was big and easy to access its functions. Likewise the climate control switches were clearly marked and intuitive. Kudos to Toyota.

It seems a lot of vehicles now use a "Park" button instead of using the gearshift lever. I got used to it pretty quickly. 

An $610 option on the test Prius was a solar charging roof. Motor Trend magazine said that the roof added about 4 miles of electric only driving while parked from 9-to-5. Admittedly that isn't much but it is free miles and their conclusion was that it was worth the cost.

As far as I'm concerned a hybrid, even a plug-in hybrid, a better choice than an EV. I like the concept of an EV but the reality doesn't meet the promise in my opinion. The infrastructure just isn't ready. 

The Toyota Prius opened the door for hybrids. There are many choices out there but you can't go wrong with a Toyota.

The 2023 Prius Prime XSE Premium starts at $39,170.


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