Toyota impressed many onlookers this week with a sleeker redesign for the Prius. It turns out that the 2023 Prius Prime, the plug-in hybrid model, is also getting the new look as well as some other upgrades. For one thing, Toyota says that a larger lithium-ion battery will improve on the previous model's EV range of 25 miles by over 50 percent (i.e. to at least 37.5 miles). As such, you'll be able to take longer trips before starting to use gas.
Another neat feature is the solar roof. These panels can recharge the battery when the Prius Prime is parked. When you're on the road, the solar roof can provide auxiliary power to functions like air conditioning to lessen the load on the lithium-ion battery. Toyota adds that the solar panels' electrodes are concealed to maintain the plug-in hybrid's sleek look. "A focus for Prius Prime is to allow it to have a similar ethos to the new Prius hybrid model, but with a little something extra — more performance, technology, safety and even a little attitude," the automaker said.
The 2023 model is lighter and more rigid than previous ones, Toyota claims, while it has a low center of gravity and larger luggage capacity. The vehicle is two inches lower, an inch wider and an inch longer than the previous Prius Prime, with a hip point that's nearly an inch lower too.
In terms of performance, Toyota says the fifth-generation hybrid powertrain and 2.0-liter engine help deliver a horsepower increase of nearly 100 hp over the last-gen model to 220 hp. The vehicle can seemingly go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds too.
As with the base Prius, the Prius Prime supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota's own Intelligent Assistant enables you to search for directions, tweak audio settings, change cabin temperatures and more with voice commands. To help you figure out how to get to where you're going, the Cloud Navigation system uses the latest available map, traffic and routing information. Alternatively, you can get some help from a live agent via Destination Assist.
Other features include a JBL Premium Audio system with eight speakers and six USB-C ports. A digital key system is available on some trims as part of the Remote Connect service, enabling you to lock and unlock doors, start the engine and more with your phone.
Elsewhere, the Prius Prime comes with Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard on all trims. Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking is available as an option on SE variants and as standard on the XSE and XSE Premium grades. Those who opt for the XSE Premium trim will have the option to use a Panoramic View Monitor feature that allows for a live rotating 360-degree view around the vehicle, as well as a hands-free system that can help with parallel parking and reversing into a parking space.
Although Toyota will announce pricing and availability for the base Prius by the end of the year, you'll need to wait longer to find out that info for the Prius Prime. The company says it will reveal pricing and the on-sale date for the plug-in hybrid in the first half of 2023.