We Took A Close-Up Look At The No-Longer-Ugly New Toyota Prius. Here’s What We Found

Priuswalk Top

I think it’s safe to say that the most dramatic glow-up of the LA Auto Show is the new 2023 Toyota Prius, which went from at best unfortunate-looking in its previous generation to what is finally a genuinely attractive car. I’m not going to lie: I had thought that Toyota’s design language was headed for real disaster, as it has been an uncomfortable riot of flaps and curves and vents and creases that I once termed, derisively, Cybaroque. Thankfully, Toyota’s designers have pretty dramatically pulled their design out of a nosedive, and one of the results is the new Toyota Prius. We did a full design breakdown on the car already, but cars are physical, visceral things, so David Tracy and I went to check it out in person, and because we both have crushes on you, we wanted you to see, too.

Here’s our walkaround video:

The new look works in person, I think. The proportions are good, especially the way the wider rear hips feel, and the dramatic rake of the roofline feels sleek and modern, even if we can’t really figure out where the A-pillar ends and the roof begins.

One puzzling issue I had with the new look is this:

Priusplate Thing

Why, Toyota? For the roughly half of U.S. states that don’t require a front plate, do they really have to have a bumper that looks like someone jammed a brick in there and then painted over it? Perhaps this is the Euro/Asia bumper skin and the U.S.-market one will have something that works with or without a front plate? That’s possible, I suppose, and at least they considered the front plate at all, which some cars just don’t at all. But still.

Also interesting is the windshield wiper setup, which has one very beefy wiper mount that seems to have an extra joint, perhaps to reach high up to the far corner of the windshield?

Prius Wiper

David also rolls around under the new Prius to try to learn some of the new Prius’ suspension and chassis secrets, and so far I think the most notable discovery is that the fuel tank appears to be located behind the rear axle — not a common location for a modern car. David and I agreed not to mention the Ford Pinto in this context, so I won’t. [Editor’s Note: This is a joke. Toyota safety engineers tend to know what they’re doing. -DT]. 

Overall, this is a massive improvement to a very important car. The old Priuses did their jobs very well but were never what you might call non-stomach-churning to look at. Also, sometimes they beeped so freaking much you’d want to puke. This new one looks great, and I’ll let myself hope it doesn’t beep so damn much.

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59 Responses

  1. I don’t know if these get read, and I know I’m VERY late for LA Auto Show posts, but the VIN on the dark gray Prius (not the turntable car) ended in 10 0s. I expect some low vins at shows like this, but seeing XXXXXXX0000000000 still surprised me.

  2. Jason and Dave,
    I have been away from Jalop for a few years and I am happy to see you together again. Shout out to Doug who mentioned your site in his Cygnet review.

    I have always loved both of your takes on things.

  3. I have a ’12 Prius v. The passenger-side wiper doesn’t have that little extra “joint” sticking out, but it still has the large curved lump at the bottom of the wiper stalk and it moves like it has two joints.

    Still, interior is where I’m interested. If I cared too much about aesthetics I wouldn’t be driving a Prius. Hope the trunk is still deceptively roomy like the prior generations.

    No rear wiper? I didn’t watch the whole video front-to-back but I didn’t see that mentioned. I would not be happy with that…

    1. Same. My Prius is awesome at being a transportation appliance. Arguably the best. It is reliable, efficient, cost of ownership is low with 15″ wheels and brake pads that last 100k miles, it was not expensive to begin with despite having most features I cared about, and I can fit all sorts of stuff inside of it with the hatchback and the seats down.

      But it is pretty clear the new Prius is trying to appeal to wider range of folks. Like you say, the wild card will be interior space. If I can still fit 10′ boards inside it, I’ll consider buying a PHEV version to replace the current Prius (hopefully easier to get than the RAV4 Prime). I guess I’ll get over the unnecessary 19″ wheels I’ll have to buy tires for. More power while still getting 50 mpg won’t be a bad thing.

    1. Same. Both the new Tundra and Sienna really need to be heavily edited like this. It’s a real shame that those came out before this new design language so we’re probably stuck with those fugly beasts for several more years. It’s a shame because both the Sienna and Tundra became hybrids in their new versions and that would have been a great opportunity to change their design language as part of the visual marking of the big change underneath the skin.

  4. Apparently I’m the only one who likes the look of hidden door handles in back. The only concern I would have is that I’ve heard people complain about the functionality of that type of door handle, but aesthetically I like it.

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