Toyota says the 2023 Prius Prime plug-in hybrid will offer a manufacturer-estimated all-electric range of up to 44 miles on a full charge. The manufacturer adds that the vehicle’s fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain will also reach a manufacturer-estimated 52 mpg combined rating on the SE grade trim.
Available in SE, XSE, and XSE Premium grades, Prius Prime’s new, larger 13.6 kWh lithium-ion battery gives it a 76% jump in all-electric range over the previous generation, climbing from 25 to 44 miles in the SE grade. The XSE and XSE Premium grades have a manufacturer-estimated range of 39 EV miles. For longer drives, Prime relies on Toyota’s fifth-generation hybrid system that combines a “highly efficient” 2.0-liter engine, an electric generator, and electric motor for an efficient driving experience, the company says.
With a larger 150-hp 2.0L engine and bigger 161-hp electric motor generator too, its 220-system-net-horsepower is around 100 hp more than the prior generation. The higher output also adds 32% more torque, climbing from 105 to 139 lb.-ft. providing a 35% faster 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds.
Both the standard Prius hybrid and the Prius Prime are powered by Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, which the company says seamlessly combines the output of the gasoline engine and electric motors. The biggest difference is that the Prius Prime can be plugged in to recharge its lithium-ion battery pack. There’s no special equipment needed for home charging, just plug the Prius Prime into a standard household outlet using the supplied cable (Toyota recommends using a dedicated GFI 15A outlet). The battery will recharge in about 11 hours on a standard 120V home outlet and in about four hours on a level II charger under ideal conditions.
The Prius Prime also offers various drive modes to give the driver options depending on their needs: EV Mode, HV/EV Auto Mode, and Hybrid Mode. EV Auto Mode will automatically rely more on its electric capability for driving around town. When in HV/EV Auto Mode, the engine will engage where it is more efficient to run the gasoline engine, like up steep hills or at higher speeds. In Hybrid Mode, the Prius Prime automatically switches between the gasoline engine and the electric motor. It combines the engine drive force and the electric power from the hybrid battery.
The Prius Prime can also optimize range by recognizing the driver’s stopping patterns on frequently driven routes and suggesting when to let off the accelerator, the company says. Available Predictive Efficient Drive with Predictive Deceleration Support collects daily driving data to optimize points of deceleration and stopping. From then on, when the driver goes through a frequented location, the system indicates when to let off the accelerator and can apply assisted deceleration to help boost fuel efficiency, the company says.
Under the hood of the 2023 Prius Prime is Toyota’s fifth-generation hybrid powertrain, which pairs the inline M20A-FXS inline four-cylinder 2.0L gas engine with two motor generators (MG1 and MG2) through a planetary-type continuously variable transmission. The company says the engine, working in concert with the electric motor (MG2), assures responsive performance, while exemplary energy efficiency is achieved by using both electric motors (MG1 and MG2) to charge a lithium-ion battery.
A new compact high-output/low-loss drive motor for the transaxle/motor uses a redesigned magnet and electromagnetic steel plate configuration, with two additional magnets for increased output. For improved performance while in Hybrid mode, both engine power and PHEV battery power are utilized for acceleration. The result is 220 combined hybrid system horsepower, 139 lb.-ft. of torque and an estimated 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds, as well as 35% improvement over the 10.2 second time of the outgoing model, Toyota says.
The company says another boost to Prius Prime’s fuel efficiency comes from the Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) system, which coordinates the operation between the regenerative braking force of the electric motors and the hydraulic braking system force to provide optimal stopping power. By proactively using the electric motors to recover as much electrical energy as possible from the regenerative braking system, this extremely efficient cooperative control helps to maximize fuel economy.