Toyota brought hybrids to the mainstream in North America with the Prius back in 2000. And over the years, its excellent fuel economy and quirky design attracted buyers who wanted to save the planet and money at the gas pump. Well, the 5th-generation Prius is here and its goal is to appeal to a larger net of buyers.

So a trip to San Diego, California was in order so we could get our first taste of the all-new 2023 Toyota Prius.

This Prius is built on the 2nd-generation TNGA-C platform which is lighter, more rigid, and has a lower center of gravity than before.

Exterior styling takes a dramatic turn with a new design that’s both handsome and aerodynamic. LED headlights are standard as well as an LED taillight that spans the rear. And new badging across the rear is one of the few ways you might recognize this as a Prius.

Three models are available: LE, XLE, and Limited. 

The LE has standard 17-inch wheels while the XLE and Limited bump it up to 19-inches.

And matching its modern new exterior is a very modern new interior.

“Now I’m pretty familiar with the last generation Prius because we recently spent a year long-term testing one and my biggest complaint with it was the interior. It was really outdated. This new Prius nails the interior. I love that the instrument cluster is digital, it’s very simple, and is now in a much more traditional place above the steering wheel. The infotainment system is updated and now the screen is horizontal. Plus, the climate control is actual physical buttons.”

Toyota keeps their packaging pretty simple so a few options you can get are a digital key, the larger 12-inch infotainment screen, a fixed glass roof, heated rear seats, and a handy digital rear view mirror.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard as well as Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. 

The singular powertrain comes in the form of Toyota’s 5th-generation hybrid system. That includes a larger 2.0-liter inline-4 engine paired with two electric motors, outputting up to 196-horsepower and 139 lb-ft of torque. That is an increase of 75-horsepower compared to the outgoing model! Of course, the Prius’s transmission stays gearless with Toyota’s e-CVT.

Handling sees some clear improvements with a new suspension; an independent MacPherson strut in the front with a multi-link in the rear.

“I love the amount of power this Prius has. It is more than enough to comfortably merge on the highway. And, yes, if you push it hard enough you’re going to hear the CVT whine but highway driving is very comfortable. These seats are very comfortable. I could really feel the lower center of gravity when I was driving on some of the back roads earlier and I was actually having a lot of fun managing on some twisty and curvy roads.”

So say goodbye to a Prius that feels a little floaty at high speeds and hello to a pretty competent highway cruiser.

While EPA numbers aren’t out yet, Toyota expects the base front-wheel drive LE model to achieve up to 57 miles-per-gallon combined. The rest of the lineup is still impressive and sees between 49 to 54 MPGs.

The 2023 Toyota Prius starts just over $28,000 after destination and all-wheel drive will cost you an additional $1,400. They should be available at dealerships in January.

The new Prius is improved in every way, with well-done styling and an impressive driving experience that makes this not just a great hybrid, but a great car.

Oh and if you’re looking for details on the new plug-in version of the Prius, you’ll have to wait until the new year. 

So we’ll have more on the Prius and Prius Prime coming up soon on MotorWeek.