Over two decades ago, Toyota Prius became the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle in the world. Since then, the automaker added a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant to its Prius model, aptly named Prius Prime. Similar to the HEV model from a visual standpoint, the plug-in version allows drivers to switch from gas to electric power as they wish. You can use the electric motor independently from the gas one, increasing the operational range and the overall performance of the car. However, is it a better choice than a fully electric vehicle? This comparison between the 2023 Prius Prime vs. Tesla Model Y might help you decide.
2023 Prius Prime vs. Tesla Model Y: Side-By-Side Comparison
|2023 Prius Prime||Tesla Model Y|
|Year of release||2023||2020|
|Vehicle type||Plug-in hybrid||Electric|
|Top speed||116mph (est.)||155mph|
|Range||Up to 640 miles on a full tank||Up to 330 miles per charge|
|Acceleration (0 to 60mph)||6.8 seconds||3.5 seconds|
|Number of seats||5||Up to 7|
|Self-driving capacity||Limited||Enhanced auto-pilot|
|Cargo capacity||20.3 cubic feet||76 cubic feet|
|Starting price||$32,000 (est.)||$54,990|
2023 Prius Prime vs. Tesla Model Y: What’s the Difference?
Part of Tesla’s premium range, the Model Y is one of the most sought-after Tesla cars. While more expensive than the Model X and Model 3, it is the most popular electric vehicle in the world. Ideal for families, it is compact enough for the city and comfortable for trips.
The 2023 Prius Prime combines the convenience of a gas-fueled vehicle with that of an electric car. The plug-in hybrid brings redesigned lines and a sporty allure compared to its predecessors. Its operational range is also improved, but can this duckling-turned-swan outperform Model Y? Let’s find it out.
A major difference between the 2023 Prius Prime and Tesla Model Y is the type of vehicle. Originally released in 2000 outside of Japan, Toyota Prius became the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle in the world. In 2012, Prius Prime was presented as the plug-in version of the popular hybrid.
The main difference between traditional and plug-in hybrids is the way they (and, consequently, the driver) alternate between gas and electric power. In traditional hybrids, the gas engine is responsible for powering up the car, while the electric motor aids the gas engine, improving its performance and range. The vehicle switches between gas and electric autonomously, and you’ll always need some gas in the tank to go anywhere.
Plug-in hybrids come with larger batteries and electric motors similar to those used in electric cars. They still have a gas tank, but the driver can choose whether to use gas, electric, or a combination of the two. Based on the driving mode, the gas engine and regenerative braking can recharge the batteries as you’re driving (as it happens with traditional hybrids), or you can skip recharging while driving and plug the car into a wall outlet or public charge station to recharge the batteries when the vehicle is parked — something you can’t do with a traditional hybrid.
Tesla Model Y is a fully electric vehicle. It runs on batteries alone, and regenerative braking typically does little to recharge the batteries while you’re driving. The operational range is good compared to other electric cars but lower than that of the 2023 Prius Prime. You also have to stop and recharge the batteries whenever needed before you can resume your journey. With a plug-in hybrid, you can keep going as long as there is gas in the tank.
The distinction between a plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles isn’t the only difference between Tesla Model Y and the 2023 Prius Prime. They also differ in class.
The 2023 Prius Prime, like its traditional hybrid counterpart, is a sedan. However, its design is largely improved compared to the earlier versions of this model. A lower profile, larger length and width, and smooth curves give the 2023 Prius Prime a more aggressive, sporty allure. Overall, the vehicle maintains an elegance that is hard to find in crossovers.
However, even if crossovers are a lot more utilitarian in aspect, the Model Y is proof that an SUV can combine style and convenience. This compact crossover features a low center of gravity and a rigid frame that improve the driving experience and boost safety. The interior is roomy, while the smooth curves make this vehicle look somewhere between an elegant sedan and an off-road-ready utility vehicle.
Looks aside, the most important factor in a car is its performance. Tesla Model Y is renowned for its state-of-the-art technology and excellent performance. Prius Prime has been long-known for its fuel economy and lifespan but is not exactly famous for innovative technologies.
Toyota brings improvements in this aspect, too, fitting a solar roof on the new Prius Prime — alas, only on the higher-end trim. Its role is to charge the batteries while the vehicle is parked, even if you don’t plug it into an outlet. The solar roof is mostly used to power accessory functions like the AC, but that’s still something. When driving, the clever design conceals the electrodes for a glossy, seamless appearance.
The operational range when driving in electric mode is also improved compared to the earlier versions of Prius Prime. If the 2022 model had a range of about 25 miles, you could expect around 40 miles of electric power from the 2023 variant. Combined with the average of 55 miles per gallon you’ll get from the gas engine, that’s a total range of about 640 miles on a full tank.
Running on electric only, Tesla Model Y boasts a range of around 330 miles. That’s a lot less compared to the 2023 Prius Prime but more than you’ll get from most electric vehicles. Despite the lower operational range, Tesla Model Y impresses with its power and acceleration. With 425 horsepower under its hood, it can get from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds.
The 2023 Prius Prime is more powerful than the traditional Prius but it is no match for the Tesla. It features 220 horsepower and a top speed of 116 miles per hour. Acceleration-wise, it gets from zero to 60 in 6.8 seconds.
Toyota and Tesla alike are committed to driver and passenger safety, albeit in different ways. The 2023 Prius Prime features multiple sensors, cameras, and driver-assist functions, but it doesn’t include autonomous driving. As a driver, you’re required to keep your hands on the steering wheel and the eyes on the road — although the car features cruise control that can help during those long, tedious drives.
Tesla Model Y comes with an array of sensors developed to increase safety. The basic version of the car doesn’t feature autonomous driving, but you can get it as an add-on for any Tesla car. Full self-driving capability basically means that you can sit back and relax while the vehicle is navigating the streets for you. Whether you can use this function legally depends on where you live.
Currently, self-driving vehicles are legal in Texas and Tennessee, where a driver is not required to be present in an autonomous vehicle. If present, the driver is not required to be licensed. In Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama, the absence of a driver is only allowed on commercial vehicles. If you’re wondering how safe it is to ride in a driverless vehicle, know that Tesla Y achieved NHTSA 5-star safety ratings and the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award.
Beyond specifications and performance, a decision-making factor for most people is the price. As an innovative and high-tech vehicle, Tesla Model Y is expensive. The cheapest trim, Tesla Model Y Long Range, has a starting price of $54,990. If you decide to customize the paintwork, opt for larger wheels, or add an extra row of seats (for a total of seven seats), the cost can go as high as $79,990. The Model Y Performance is more expensive, with a starting price of $58,990.
Toyota hasn’t yet revealed the actual prices of its 2023 Prius Prime. The car was initially scheduled for a March release, but it’s still in the making. Considering the 2022 Prius Prime and the price of the already released 2023 Prius, the Prime model is not expected to have a starting price higher than $32,000 — and it could actually be lower than that.
While Tesla cars are typically eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, they will still be more expensive than the Prius Prime. Both Tesla and Toyota offer loans and lease opportunities that you can access directly through the automakers or from authorized dealers.
2023 Prius Prime vs. Tesla Model Y: 7 Must-Know Facts
- The 2023 Prius Prime is the plug-in version of the traditional 2023 Prius. It combines the advantages of gas-fueled and electric cars in one performing vehicle.
- Tesla Model Y is the most popular electric vehicle in the world. It was released in 2020 and is available in two trims, Long Range and Performance.
- The 2023 Prius Prime is an excellent choice if you want fuel economy without going over the top. You won’t get autonomous driving, but the car comes packed with drive assist functions.
- Tesla Model Y is a better option if you want to take advantage of a car with full self-driving capabilities. In most states, this mode is not yet legal, and you’ll still have to keep an eye on the road.
- Toyota Prius Prime has a good operational range and features a solar roof for fast recharging. However, it lacks cargo space with a maximum of 20.3 cubic feet.
- Tesla Model Y has an operational range of up to 330 miles, but it offers more passenger room and 76 cubic feet of cargo space.
- Model Y Long Range can be customized in a 7-seat car variant, ideal for large families. The Performance trim is only offered in the 5-seat version.
2023 Prius Prime vs. Tesla Model Y: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Get?
Choosing between the 2023 Prius Prime and the Tesla Model Y comes down to your needs. Tesla Model Y is a crossover ideal for large families and road trips. It offers generous space for occupants and cargo alike. Full self-driving capacity, if legal in your state, makes it even easier to get through long hours on the road. However, you’ll have to pay for all these features.
The 2023 Prius Prime allows you to alternate between gas and electric power, increasing fuel efficiency and performance. However, the interior is not as spacious as the Tesla’s. This car is also ideal for families, but a better choice for the city. Self-driving capabilities are limited, but the vehicle is reliable and safe to drive. It is also a lot cheaper compared to Tesla, so a better option for buyers on a budget.
Electric Vehicles in the News: 2023
In 2023, the EV market is continuing to grow, with new models being released and more people switching to electric. So far this year, several new EV models have launched, including the Chevrolet Blazer EV, the Ford F-150 Lightning, and the Hyundai Ioniq 6.
As anyone who’s ever owned — or considered owning — an EV can tell you, EV charging infrastructure is vital to this transportation technology’s long-term success. The good news is that more and more public charging stations are being installed, making it easier for EV owners to charge their vehicles and dramatically reducing range anxiety.
Governments around the world are offering incentives to promote the adoption of EVs. These incentives vary from country to country and can include financial subsidies, tax credits, grants, and exemptions. Some of the countries that offer incentives for EV adoption in 2023 include the United States, China, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France.
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The image featured at the top of this post is ©Yauhen_D/Shutterstock.com.