The 2023 Toyota Prius puts its predecessor’s acceleration time to shame

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  • The 2023 Toyota Prius isn’t just prettier than its predecessor; its straight-line performance is also much better.
  • The new front-wheel drive Prius we tested hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, making it 3.4 seconds quicker than its previous equivalent.
  • The Prius’ increased acceleration comes with an upgraded hybrid powertrain that delivers more horsepower.

Welcome to Car and DriverTesting Hub, where we zoom in on test numbers. We’ve been pushing vehicles to the limit since 1956 to provide objective data to substantiate our subjective impression (you can see how we tested it here). A more complete review of the Toyota Prius 2023 can be seen here.

In what world does straight-line hybrid performance matter? Welcome to Car and Driver! Thanks for stopping by. For those who haven’t heard of it, the new fifth-generation Toyota Prius is getting ready to hit the road, and we’ve gone through our signature series of track tests. The results speak volumes: Toyota’s adage is not only much prettier, it’s also infinitely faster. The 2023 Prius hits 60 mph in 7.1 seconds—a noteworthy 3.4 seconds ahead of its predecessor, which took a very slow 10.5 seconds to reach that mark.

Prius Ceiling Cleaner

Before we compare the new Prius’ remaining test numbers to the old, let’s rearrange the deck. The 2023 Toyota Prius kicks off a new generation with changes that most people with two eyes on will call attractive at the worst and stunningly beautiful at the best. (The latter most likely applies to owners of one or more previous generations). While the hybrid hatchback’s visual shift from tacky to sexy is a hot topic of conversation, here it is Car and Driver, we want to balance subjective reflections with objective testing.

Underneath the Prius’ hot new body is an enhanced hybrid powertrain. Like the outgoing version, the inbound version is still available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Along with the switch from nickel-metal-hydride batteries to a lithium-ion pack, the Prius’ petrol engine changes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder to a larger 2.0-liter four-pot.

The growth spurt in engine displacement also brought about a major increase in horsepower, with output increasing from a total of 121 horses to between 194 and 196 ponies combined for the front and all-wheel drive models, respectively. There’s also a new plug-in-hybrid Prius Prime making headlines with 220 horsepower (also up from 121 hp), but we haven’t had a chance to test it yet.

Fastest Prius We’ve Ever Tested (So Far)

The only 2023 Prius we’ve used for testing so far is the top-spec Limited trim with front-wheel drive. For comparison’s sake, that setup most closely resembles the 2017 Prius Three (same front-drive configuration) we tested a few years ago.

Despite some increased dimensions and the addition of improved equipment, the new Prius is no heavier than before. The 2023 example tipped our scales at 3199 pounds, a more reasonable 86 pounds than the 2017 version’s 3113 pounds. The new Prius still carries about 60 percent of its weight up front.

toyota prius 2023 limited
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As we stated earlier, the new Prius reaches 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. It was an unremarkable time when taken out of context. Still, compared to the 10.5 ticks it took the old Prius to reach the miles per minute mark, that 3.4-second increase is something of a celebration — at least among those who extol the joys of driving.

The new Prius proved significantly faster in our other acceleration tests too. Its quarter mile time drops by more than two seconds, from 17.8 seconds at 79 mph to 15.5 seconds at 92 mph. The 2023 model should also alleviate any lingering anxiety over roading, as the hybrid now accelerates from 50 to 70 mph in 5 seconds flat (2.1 seconds quicker than before).

toyota prius 2023 limited

Marc Urbano|Car and Driver

On the rare occasion a driver of a new Prius wants to find speed in the triple digit region, it’s amazing how fast they can do it. We hit 100 mph in 18.8 seconds. That’s an incredible 11.7 seconds faster than its predecessor, which took 30.5 seconds. The old car also takes 43.2 seconds to reach 110 mph; the new one does it in 24.4 seconds.

More Prius Tests to Come

The last all-wheel-drive Prius we tested was three-tenths slower to 60 mph (10.8 seconds) than its front-drive counterpart, which suggests the new all-wheel-drive version may not be any faster either. Still, we’ll have to wait until we test one to find out. The same goes for the new Prius Prime; the outgoing example we tested took 10.3 seconds to reach 60 mph.

For now, the new 2023 front-drive Prius is the fastest Prius we’ve ever tested. Only time will tell whether this hybrid’s new speed will require sacrifices at the fuel pump. Toyota claims the new Prius is more efficient than the last, aiming for a combined 57 mpg with an EPA rating versus the previous highest combined of 56 mpg. However, we’ll see if real-world fuel economy tests show a different result. Stay tuned.

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