The Toyota Prius is one thing of a recognized amount at this level. The world’s best-selling hybrid nameplate, it is most likely exhausting to seek out somebody who hasn’t heard of the fuel-sipping automobile. This yr, Toyota has a brand new technique to appeal to much more consumers to the Prius way of life due to the addition of all-wheel drive as an choice.It’s the primary main replace for this era of the Prius, which went on sale within the US in 2016. But with a lot of the Prius’ attraction predicated on its gasoline financial system and affordability, does the brand new AWD-e mannequin require huge sacrifices on both entrance?
Upgraded powertrainFor probably the most half, the 2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e has the identical powertrain as some other mannequin. Up entrance is a 1.8-liter gasoline four-cylinder and an electrical motor-generator, which ship a mixed 121 horsepower. However, the place the front-wheel-drive Prius has a 3.6-amp-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the AWD-e makes use of a 6.5-amp-hour nickel-metal hydride pack. Toyota says a key consideration in utilizing the NiMH pack is its decreased susceptibility to chilly climate — i.e. the varieties of snowy climate wherein one may be driving an all-wheel-drive Prius. The closing change is on the rear axle, the place the Prius beneficial properties an electrical motor rated for 7 horsepower and 40 pound-feet.

That’s not a complete lot of energy for the rear axle, however the level is to not make the Prius all-wheel-drive on a regular basis. Rather, the aim is so as to add simply sufficient push on the again tires to get the automobile unstuck on slippery surfaces — snow, ice, gravel or perhaps wet pavement.

As such, the motor is simply used at low speeds. It’s all the time lively when accelerating from relaxation as much as 6 miles per hour. Then between 6 and 43 mph, the motor solely kicks in if the entrance wheels slip. Again, that is not going to provide a Prius Audi-like dealing with, however it ought to make it a bit of simpler to get stepping into inclement situations.Under the hood, the AWD-e mannequin makes use of primarily the identical powertrain as some other Prius.
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Of course, a observe: All-wheel drive solely helps with acceleration in snow and ice, not braking or steering. If you are repeatedly driving in extreme winter situations, you would be nicely suggested to put in correct winter tires to your Toyota Prius, whatever the drive wheels. My check automobile’s Dunlop Enasave rubber is concentrated on low-rolling resistance, not essentially final snow and ice efficiency.Unchanged driving expertiseOf course, by the point I had an opportunity to drive the Prius AWD-e, it had lastly stopped snowing in Michigan, so evaluating that low-speed traction proved a bit of robust. But on days with torrential rain, the Prius pulled away from a cease with none wheel spin, and the occasional dust or gravel highway likewise proved no problem in any respect.Otherwise, this automobile drives identical to a normal Toyota Prius. Though the AWD-e is 145 to 170 kilos heavier than an equal front-drive mannequin, you will not really feel a lot of a distinction from the motive force’s seat.There are few visible clues as to this automobile’s variations, other than an “AWD-e” badge on the again.
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Overall, the Prius is about up fairly nicely for on a regular basis suburban commuting. The powertrain serves up its energy easily and unobtrusively, the journey over potholes is smooth and there is nice visibility in each route, due to a low beltline and massive home windows. Around city, energy is sufficient sufficient. On the freeway, although, the Prius is gradual to speed up and admits numerous wind and highway noise into the cabin; test-drive and contemplate fastidiously if you wish to use this automobile for lengthy freeway commutes.

Still, the Prius has floaty, disconnected dealing with and imprecise steering that do little to encourage confidence within the driver. It additionally has a poor sense of straight-ahead on the freeway, so I really feel like I am continuously making little corrections at pace. And the gasoline engine sounds sad and strained when referred to as on to ship numerous acceleration.Break up with the fuel stationThe most vital query about this automobile, nonetheless, is how including all-wheel drive impacts gasoline financial system. The distinction is definitely small; the AWD-e LE and XLE are EPA-rated for 52 miles per gallon metropolis, 48 mpg freeway and 50 mpg mixed. That’s solely 2 mpg much less, in every class, than an equal front-wheel-drive Prius. And, for what it is value, that is probably the most fuel-efficient, non-plug-in, all-wheel-drive automobile you should purchase right this moment.It’s straightforward to get spectacular fuel-economy figures — even throughout numerous slow-speed driving and idling for a video shoot.
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Those are simply the window-sticker numbers, generated from lab exams, although. In the actual world, the Prius delivers even higher numbers with out a lot effort in any respect. In suburban driving I routinely see mpg figures within the excessive 50s and low 60s. And that is with out hypermiling or driving 10 mph beneath the pace restrict. The Prius is an awfully environment friendly automobile — even with the additional weight and complexity of AWD. Couple these financial system figures with an 11.3-gallon gasoline tank and you’ll drive lengthy distances between gasoline stops.Functional and spacious insideThe Toyota Prius has a useful and easy-to-use cabin. There are some bizarre components, just like the dorky blue-plastic shifter and the center-mounted instrument cluster, the latter of which places some vital advisory lights (headlights, parking sensors, airbag warnings, active-safety lights) method far out of the motive force’s eye line on the passenger aspect of the sprint. Still, a daring digital speedometer and coloration journey laptop are straightforward to learn at a look, and whereas it is irritating they don’t seem to be proper in entrance of me, there’s a head-up show that reveals my pace, too.All of the inside controls are easy to make use of and become familiar with. I won’t select the two-tone therapy of my tester, however general the cabin supplies are high quality — definitely it feels extra economy-car than different automobiles touching $30,000, however that is as a result of a lot of the cash goes to the Prius’ hybrid powertrain.The inside the cabin feels mild, ethereal and roomy. All the controls are straightforward to make use of.
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Among the adjustments for the 2019 mannequin yr are further piano-black plastic trim, which appears to be like good however is susceptible to attracting fingerprints, and two further 2.1-amp USB ports for rear-seat passengers to juice up their devices. There’s additionally a wi-fi charging pad up entrance, although its flat, slippery floor would not maintain my cellphone in place and I routinely discover it stops charging after the primary nook.It’s roomy, with a great deal of headroom within the entrance row, although as in lots of Toyotas, the steering wheel would not alter excessive sufficient or retract far sufficient into the sprint; I really feel just like the wheel is nearly resting on my lap. In the again seat, there is a good quantity of leg- and headroom for adults, too. The hatchback cargo space gives 24.6 cubic toes of space for storing with the again seats raised, higher than a Mazda3 hatch, increasing to 62.7 cubic toes with them lowered.The Prius additionally received a gentle replace on the surface for 2019. I might be hard-pressed to determine the adjustments at a look — they embrace a brand new entrance bumper and new lights — and general the automobile nonetheless appears to be like like a Prius. That’s a nasty factor within the sense that it nonetheless appears to be like a bit dorky and futuristic, however a great factor within the sense that the styling retains aerodynamic drag low and alerts to different drivers, “Hey, this person is driving a hybrid.” For a whole lot of Prius consumers, it is a plus to drive a automobile that is unequivocally identifiable as a hybrid.
Low-grade expertiseFor all of the expertise beneath the hood, the Prius’ in-car tech disappoints as a result of it’s miles extra primary than what you get in rival automobiles — issues just like the Honda Insight, Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro, as an illustration. For infotainment, most fashions use a 6.1-inch touchscreen with AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, a CD participant and aux and USB inputs. The system works nicely sufficient, with easy-to-use menus and bodily shortcut buttons, although its graphics aren’t particularly fancy. There are additionally shows to point out the automobile’s gasoline effectivity.But the system would not provide fashionable tech like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, nor does it even provide built-in navigation or satellite tv for pc radio. Those final two options are provided on the Prius Limited, which makes use of an 11.6-inch touchscreen — however that system is not obtainable at the same time as an choice on some other Prius trim. And the Limited isn’t obtainable with AWD-e.Things are a lot better on the protection entrance, with the 2019 Prius geared up as commonplace with pre-collision warning and braking, lane-keep help, adaptive cruise management and automated excessive beams. All however the base Prius L has parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring, too.Back-seat legroom needs to be high quality for many passengers.
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Priced to maneuverThe closing gold star for the Toyota Prius AWD-e comes within the type of its inexpensive pricing. Compared to front-wheel-drive fashions, the AWD-e prices solely $1,400 further in its LE trim degree and $1,000 further in XLE type. Including vacation spot, the automobiles value $27,310 and $29,750, respectively. That means you may get a 50-mpg, all-wheel-drive automobile for beneath $30,000, an excellent deal certainly. With a handful of minor choices, my check automobile rings in at a still-approachable $32,113.At first blush, including value and decreasing the effectivity of a Toyota Prius looks as if a nasty deal. But the 2019 Prius AWD-e asks solely the smallest sacrifices of its drivers. It’s troublesome to place a worth on the additional confidence a driver may get from having all-wheel-drive in inclement climate — to say nothing of precise efficiency enhancements. The Prius nonetheless has all the identical execs and cons because it ever did, however including all-wheel drive ought to make the automobile much more interesting to consumers within the Snowbelt.

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