Taking the Toyota Prius up in the mountains during the winter will be no problem thanks to the addition of AWD.
Now, car shoppers looking to get into greener motoring have another option that offers the added benefit of traction in all weather conditions: Toyota’s legendary Prius gains available all-wheel drive for 2019.
Called AWD-e(lectric), the system works on an on-demand basis requiring no centre differential or torque management device, or even a front-to-rear driveshaft. Instead, an independent electric motor spins the rear wheels at speeds from a dead stop up to 10 km/h to help get the vehicle moving, and can provide power up to 70 km/h when additional grip is required. Otherwise it stays off to conserve fuel consumption.
Unlike most traditional AWD setups, which can be quite gasoline hungry due to lots of moving parts, this new addition to the Prius lineup has a fuel economy rating of 4.5 L/100 km in the city and 4.9 on the highway. That’s nearly the same as the front-wheel drive Prius — that will continue to be sold — rated at 4.4 and 4.6, respectively.
Regular models are equipped with a lithium-ion battery, while the AWD-e cars utilize a new compact Nickel-Metal Hydride battery designed to maintain a high level of performance even in cold weather conditions. Installed under the rear seats, there is no change in cargo space, still offering 1,855 litres when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded down.
All Prii feature plenty of standard equipment such as energy-saving bi-LED headlamps, backup camera, heated front seats, push button start and the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of driver assistance technologies. These include emergency braking, land departure assist, automatic high beams and radar cruise control.
The 1.8-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine carries over, mated to two motors/generators and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. Total output remains 121 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque.