The ultimate automotive appliance is now something more.
I have long advocated for the Toyota Prius, which is weird for a driving enthusiast to say. I might even get kicked out of the club for it.
However, most people are not like me. To most people, driving is a chore to be endured and not a pleasure to be relished. Most people would rather spend money on anything but gas, whereas I’m happy to pump premium unleaded at six bucks a gallon into my Mazdaspeed Miata and rip around in the Santa Monica Mountains for no other reason than the sheer joy it brings.
Realizing that I’m in the minority, my opinion has long been that most people, most of the time, should drive a Toyota Prius. It is affordable, great on gas, roomy enough for four adults, and has a hatchback body style with a large trunk and handy folding seats to increase utility. You can even get all-wheel drive for when Old Man Winter arrives.
But damn, that car has been ugly for its entire existence.
At first, the quirks of the design served as a planet-saving badge of honor. “Look at me,” Prius owners seemed to be saying, “virtuously trying to save the world while you selfish fools buy Challengers and jacked-to-the-sky F-150s.” Aerodynamics played a role in the car’s looks, but today, attractive vehicles regularly slip through the atmosphere with a coefficient of drag well under 0.30.
As I wrote in my most recent review of the Prius:
“Styling sells cars, and styling is a problem with this car. It’s weird for the sake of being weird, and now that other hybrids can equal its efficiency without resorting to unnecessarily outlandish design — including the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which uses the same powertrain — the Prius’s reason to exist is in question. Once upon a time, this was an important car. A game-changer. But no more.”
Well, take a look at what we have here. This is the redesigned 2023 Toyota Prius, and it has more than just a sense of style. It looks like something you might actually want to be seen in. I don’t even mind the odd running light eyebrows that wrap up and run along the corners of the hood.