5th-gen Prius redesign

2022-11-17

The 2023 Prius made its global debut yesterday evening, and I think this is the most excited I’ve been in a while for a new car design. They really killed it. I think this is a standout car design, maybe even one we’ll look back on as a landmark design.

I’m generally a lot more interested in everyday cars than the unattainable supercars, and the Toyota Prius is arguably one of the most common and well-known cars this century. I think there’s a lot of impact in designing something that millions of people are going to see on the roads every day for years into the future.

This car is stunning! It looks sci-fi in the best way, sleek and different but also clean and intentional. Most car designs of the 2010s have felt mediocre to me – like 2000s cars trying too hard to look different, with too many overwrought details and surfacing and weirdness. This design has clarity. It brings into focus the kind of shape that those earlier, confused cars were evolving towards.

Rear 3/4 view

I like that it looks like it’s formed out of a single giant piece of liquid metal. There aren’t any fake vents, and the black plastic trim is used with restraint to good effect. The lighting design is simple and futuristic. It’s bold and edgy enough without trying too hard or looking angry. The interior design pushes the status quo a bit with the instrument panel above the steering wheel, but it retains physical buttons and knobs (which I think are essential).

I’m more interested in the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) than the conventional hybrid (HEV). Both drivetrains have become a lot more powerful while preserving fuel efficiency. The PHEV is expected to have around 38 miles of electric-only range, which isn’t as good as my Volt (53 miles) but is much better than the current Prius Prime (25 miles) and will be enough for many people. I think more PHEVs on the market is a great thing – they help reduce carbon emissions now using our existing limited battery resources at a more attainable price point than pure electric cars. Unfortunately there haven’t really been any affordable (ish) PHEVs with 40+ mile range since the Chevy Volt and Honda Clarity were killed off a couple years ago, so it’s nice to see this help fill that gap.

The Japanese model has some really cool features which weren’t mentioned in the North American press release, so unfortunately it seems like we may not be getting these here:

It also seems like North America isn’t getting that sweet yellow color. Instead we mostly get some grayish shades, and one shade of red.

If I had to pick some things to critique about this design…

Anyways… I’ll be holding on to my Volt for a while longer, but if I didn’t have the Volt, this would be top of list. I think this thing is going to sell as quickly as they can make them, and I’m excited to see these on the roads next year.