2023 Toyota Prius Turns Heads at Los Angeles Auto Show
The most significant redesign in the hybrid’s five generations sees the Prius become faster, more efficient and an enormous design step away from what had become a pedestrian choice.
Toyota has pushed aside talk about the decline of auto shows by taking over the buzz of the Los Angeles auto show by introducing the sleekest, most luxurious and capable Prius hybrid and Prius Prime plug-in hybrid to date.
Since it was introduced as a 2001 model, the Prius hybrid was the darling of the environmental set due to its stellar efficiency, which Toyota says will reach a company-estimated 57 mpg (4.1 L/100 km) combined for the new model. But it also was known to look and drive a little like an appliance. And any improvements made in the previous generation that debuted in 2015 were blown away by the flowing angles and creases and accompanying comfort and powertrain improvements.
Toyota Group Vice President and General Manager Dave Christ said in a news release that the Prius team was asked to produce more than an iterative new model. “We set our sights on a new Prius for the future, and our design and engineering teams really delivered,” he said.
The team gave the 2023 Prius a roofline that is two inches lower and a rear end that is an inch wider than the outgoing fourth-generation model. The lithium-ion battery pack – no more nickel-metal hydride batteries – is placed to optimize a low center of gravity and leave more room for luggage.
The old 1.8-liter engine is gone in favor of a new 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder augmented by what Toyota said is the fifth generation of its hybrid system.
Put it all together and Toyota says the FWD Prius makes a combined 194 hp and can go from 0-to-60 mph (0-to-97 km/h) in 7.2 sec., a huge jump versus the previous generation’s 9.8 sec. The AWD hybrid — which adds a high-output permanent-magnet motor driving the rear wheels — makes 196 hp and reaches 60 mph in 7 sec.
The top two of three trim levels ride on 19-inch wheels. On the inside, the Prius has joined the movement to the USB-C port standard, offering six such outlets. A 12.3-in. (312-mm) central infotainment screen is available, and some updating of systems can be handled over-the-air (OTA). The 2023 Prius hybrid comes standard with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and front- and rear-parking assist with auto braking is available. A 360-degree view is available on the top Limited trim level, as is Advanced Park, a hands-free system for parallel or back-in parking.
The Prius has been the standard bearer for hybrids since it was introduced, and Toyota has sold 5 million hybrid models in the U.S. and 20 million globally. “We’re confident the all-new 2023 Prius and Prius Prime will continue this important legacy,” Christ said.
Prius Prime: More power
Toyota said that thanks to its larger battery pack, the 2023 plug-in version of the Prius generates 220 hp (that’s 20 hp more than Honda’s sport-oriented 2022 Civic Si) and can reach 60 mph in an attention-getting 6.6 sec.
Like the hybrid version, Prius Prime can run a 4G hotspot that will serve up to five wireless devices at once.
The Prime offers a solar roof that charges the battery when the vehicle is unoccupied, and helps to power HVAC and other accessories when moving. In a high refinement, the solar panels are manufactured in a way that hides the electrodes, “giving the roof a smooth, glossy appearance.”
A sharp compact SUV concept
Coinciding with the unveiling of the new Prius lineup was Toyota’s introduction of the bZ Compact SUV Concept, an aero-focused, futuristic-looking EV with the wheels aggressively pushed out to the corners. Apparently intended largely as a styling statement, Toyota offered no specifics regarding battery or propulsion system.
Inside Compact SUV Concept, a virtual personal agent called Yui helps the driver and passengers interact with the vehicle. Responding with audio and visual cues, the system responds to requests from passengers in the front or rear. This “intuitive tech,” as Christ called it, is part of Toyota’s “Beyond Zero” approach to design, meant to look beyond sustainability and into how vehicles can improve the lives of the people who drive or ride in them.
A desert menace at the Porsche stand
You could be forgiven for thinking the high-riding, knobby-tired, sand-spewing version of Porsche’s venerable 911 is an L.A. show concept, or something from the garages of Brabus or Renntech. But the 2023 911 Dakar is a production vehicle.
Ostensibly, the 911 Dakar is meant to celebrate Porsche’s first overall victory at the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally, which also was the first time a 911 was built with AWD. The 911 Dakar is available in a livery similar to the 1984 car. The 911 Dakar sits 2 in. (50 mm) taller than a Carerra with sport suspension. And it can be lifted an additional 1.2 in. (30.5-mm) on both ends. This “high level” mode can be used at up to 105 mph (169 km/h). Above that and the Dakar is lowered to its original height.
The 911 Dakar is powered with a 3.0L twin-turbo Boxer 6-cyl. that makes 473 hp and 420 lb-ft (569 Nm) of torque. Power is put to the ground through bespoke double-carcass Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires that have an off-road tread pattern that is .35 inches (9 mm) deep.
Porsche said in a news release that the eight-speed PDK automated-manual transmission and AWD system can get the Dakar to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.For those who might actually take this beast overlanding, an optional roof basket and custom tent is available.
Although brand enthusiasts have for years clamored for a Dakar-type 911, Porsche said it will produce only 2,500. Pricing begins at $222,000.