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2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e: First Look

  • It’s an all-wheel-drive hybrid.
  • Achieves 52 mpg in the city.
  • New version is part of a range-wide revamp.

The 2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e is the first variant of this well-know hybrid to feature all-wheel drive (AWD). So people who live in areas where rough winters are common can now reduce their emissions, save on gas and still get to work and back.

What Does AWD-e Mean?

It’s the lower-case "e" that makes the difference here. In vehicles with conventional AWD, it’s all done with hardware. There are mechanical connections between the transmission and the two driven axles. With the 2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e, the rear axle is turned by an electric motor, so the only connection is wiring. The result is that the Prius AWD-e can spend most of its time in the more economical front-wheel-drive mode and activate the rear motor whenever conditions dictate. The result is extra confidence when the weather becomes challenging.

The rear electric motor always kicks in from standstill to 6 miles per hour, to help pull away from the line, and will operate, if needed, up to 43 mph. Toyota claims this midsize hybrid can achieve 52 miles per gallon in the city, 48 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg in combined driving. That’s two mpg thirstier in each cycle over the regular FWD Prius, but still really good for a vehicle with AWD.

When Is It Available And How Much Does It Cost?

Toyota hasn’t announced anything yet on either count, having just introduced the 2019 Prius AWD-e at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. But the regular 2018 Prius started at around $24,500, so the new model year’s prices shouldn’t stray too far from that. The AWD-e version will be more expensive than its regular counterpart, perhaps an extra $1,700 or so.

What Else Is New?

The 2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e is just one development for the Prius range this year. Every model receives updated styling, while the trim level names have been changed to L Eco, LE, XLE and Limited. The new Prius AWD-e will be available as an LE or XLE. The higher trim has heated front seats and a heated steering wheel as standard.

Every 2019 Prius comes with LED headlamps and taillights, plus an array of driver aids that includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection and automatic high beams.

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