We suspected something might be happening in the land of Prius when Toyota dropped a teaser photo of its familiar hybrid shooting a rooster tail of snow that, upon closer inspection, appeared to show the rear wheels doing the spinning. In fact, all four tires were doing the driving because our suspicions are now confirmed: Toyota has a new all-wheel-drive Prius for the North American market that was just revealed at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The system is actually called AWD-e, where predictably, e stands for electric. There is no direct connection between the rear wheels and the engine – a separate electric motor supplies power to the back tires full-time from 0 to 6 mph (9 km/h) to help with initial acceleration. Beyond that, the onboard computer engages the rear rubber only when it’s deemed necessary for grip or stability, up to a maximum of 43 mph (69 km/h).
Those familiar with the Prius in its home market of Japan will recognize this setup, as it’s been available there for a few years now. With SUV and crossover sales going bezerk in the U.S., it seems Toyota is hoping to slip something of a ringer into the segment. In fact, the automaker estimates that 25 percent of new Prius sales could go to the all-wheel-drive model, and it does offer quite a bit of interior room comparable to many smaller crossovers. With fuel mileage ratings of 52 mpg city and 48 mpg highway, it’s certainly among the least-thirsty all-wheel drive vehicles you can get in America.
But wait, there’s more.
In addition to the new AWD-e option, Toyota is giving the 2019 Prius a minor styling update that mimics the look of the current Prius Prime. In fact, the numeral naming designation is gone as well for 2019, with the Prius family adopting Toyota’s more traditional branding of LE, XLE, and Limited, with entry-level models called L Eco. Two new colors enter the Prius palette – Supersonic Red and Electric Storm Blue – and the AWD-e will get new two-tone 15-inch wheels.
See all the news about the Los Angeles Auto Show
Inside, the 2019 Prius will be familiar to fans of the brand. The 4.2-inch display on AWD-e models will gain an additional menu, and AWD-e XLE variants get heated front seats with powered 8-way adjustability and SofTex trim. A cool crossbar setup for the roof rack will be available through Toyota’s accessory group, and on the safety side, all Prius models get Toyota Safety Sense P as standard equipment.
Expect pricing for the new AWD-e Prius to be revealed next year.
2019 Prius is Most Capable Yet Thanks to Available New AWD-e Syste
• One of the Most Fuel-Efficient AWD-Equipped Vehicles in America, with 50 Combined MPG
• Refreshed Exterior Styling for All Prius Models
• New Grade Strategy Unveiled for 2019
• Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) Standard Across All Grades
• Up to 65.5 cu. ft. of Cargo Space with Rear Seatbacks Folded Down
When it comes to the 2019 Prius, “Let’s Go Places” can be expanded to “let’s go more places, in more conditions” thanks to the available new AWD-e system. Designed to provide more confidence and control when weather and road conditions are less than ideal, the electric all-wheel drive system further expands where the Prius can take drivers.
The new Prius AWD-e system will certainly deliver added traction and confidence for drivers but, in true Prius fashion, the 2019 AWD-e will lay claim to being one of the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive-equipped passenger cars available in the U.S., thanks to manufacturer-projected mpg estimates of 52 mpg city / 48 mpg highway / 50 mpg combined. Toyota estimates that the AWD-e model could account for as much as 25 percent of annual U.S. Prius sales.
Toyota’s AWD-e system is ideal for Prius. The automatic on-demand system does not require a center differential or other torque-apportioning device, nor does it need a front-to-rear driveshaft. Instead, the “e” in AWD-e stands for electric. The Prius AWD-e uses an independent electric, magnet-less rear motor (a Toyota first) to power the rear wheels from 0 to 6 mph, then when needed, up to 43 mph. This system provides the power to the rear wheels to pull away from a stop, yet the on-demand system recognizes when all-wheel-drive performance is not needed to provide great fuel economy.
The addition of the available AWD-e system is only part of the wider revision to
the 2019 Prius, which debuts newly refined front and rear exterior styling, along
with additional interior updates. Let’s not forget the front-wheel-drive (FWD) Prius
will still offer the impressive fuel economy for which it is known, with
manufacturer-projected fuel economy estimates of 58 mpg city / 52 mph highway
/ 56 mpg combined on the L Eco grade, while the LE, XLE and Limited has
projected fuel ratings of 54 mpg city / 50 mph highway / 52 mpg combined.
The 2019 Prius also adopts the familiar model grade strategy used throughout the
Toyota family, dropping the numerals in favor of grade labels L Eco, LE, XLE and
Limited. Prius will also sport two new colors for 2019, Supersonic Red and Electric
Storm Blue. The AWD-e model will be offered in LE and XLE grades and will debut
a new two-tone 15-inch alloy wheel (with cover).
The AWD-e models use a newly developed compact Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-
MH) battery that is designed to provide excellent performance in cold-weather
conditions. The AWD-e battery fits under the rear seat area and does not impact
the luggage capacity. The FWD models will tout a Lithium Ion battery.
The Prius AWD-e models offer the same 65.5 cu. ft. of carrying space with the
standard 60:40 split rear seatbacks lowered as other Prius models. That’s more
than in some small SUVs and larger than most full-size sedans. Expanding
carrying options, the Prius AWD-e will offer available Genuine Toyota Accessory
cargo crossbars for roof rack attachments, such as for carrying bikes, kayaks,
snowboards, or a cargo carrier. The Prius AWD-e XLE features upgraded SofTextrimmed,
heated front seats with 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
The SofTex-trimmed heated tilt/telescopic steering wheel features surface
temperature-regulating properties to help make it feel more comfortable in hot or
cold weather. The steering wheel also integrates switches for the Entune Audio
system, Multi-Information Display, and Bluetooth hands-free phone controls.
The Prius comes standard with driver’s door Smart Key System, Push Button Start
and remote illuminated entry. The XLE and Limited grades include Standard Smart
Key System on three doors. An Adaptive Front Lighting System is available on the
XLE grade and is standard on the Limited grade. And, Toyota Safety Connect,
standard on Limited models, includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen VehicleLocator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification and comes
with a complimentary three-year trial subscription.
Standard Toyota Safety Sense
All 2019 Prius models, including the Prius AWD-e versions, come standard with
Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). Using millimeter-wave radar and a monocular
camera sensor to help detect a pedestrian, a vehicle, and lane markers and
headlights in the surrounding area, TSS-P provides a comprehensive bundle of
active safety features including: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
(PCS w/ PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Automatic
High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
Because all Prius models, under certain circumstances, can operate in battery
mode alone, during which they make little to no noise, they incorporate a Vehicle
Proximity Notification System (VPNS) to help alert pedestrians and cyclists.
High Tech Galore
All Prius models share interior features including the familiar central screen
interface. The 4.2" color Dual Multi-Information Display with customizable screens
adds an AWD-e system indicator to the menu of displays, which also includes
Energy Monitor, Hybrid System Indicator and Eco Score, Eco Savings Record, Drive
Monitor, Eco Wallet, Eco Diary, Climate Control, driver support systems, audio
system content, and navigation system content. For the ultimate in high-tech
information, the available Color Head-Up Display (HUD) shows the speedometer,
navigation, and Hybrid System Indicator in the driver’s line of sight.
The standard Entune Audio system for AWD-e models includes the Entune
Multimedia Bundle: 6.1 in. touch-screen display, AM/FM CD player, 6 speakers,
auxiliary audio jack, one USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and two 2.1-amp USB
charge ports, advanced voice recognition, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability,
phone book access and music streaming, Siri Eyes Free, and an integrated backup
camera display. The Limited grade comes standard with the Entune Premium JBL
Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite, with a large 11.6” HD multimedia
2019 Prius Mechanical Features
The Prius AWD-e shares the Hybrid Synergy Drive system with other Prius models.
The system combines the output of a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and two
motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type
continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Electronically Controlled Brake
System coordinates control between the regenerative braking and the vehicle’s
hydraulic brake force to provide optimal brake performance and feel.
The 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine is itself a paragon of high
efficiency. Thanks to ultra-low internal friction and efficient combustion, it
exceeds 40 percent thermal efficiency, which is among the highest in the world for
a gasoline engine.
The Prius gets a good share of its fuel efficiency by cheating the wind with an
ultra-low 0.24 coefficient of drag (Cd), which is among the lowest of current
production passenger cars. An automatic grille shutter reduces drag by closing
when airflow to the radiator is not needed. Even the air conditioning system,
which uses a quiet electric compressor, works intelligently to maximize energy
efficiency. The Smart-flow (S-FLOW) mode directs airflow only to seated
occupants to conserve energy and maximize comfort.
Standard Bi-LED headlamps and LED rear combination lamps reduce energy
consumption compared to halogens, while giving better light and having a longer
service life. A backup camera comes standard on all grades, and a full-width glass
panel beneath the rear spoiler aids rearward visibility while also serving as a
distinctive design feature.
Toyota New Global Architecture
The fourth-generation Prius is built around the Toyota New Global Architecture
(TNGA). The platform introduced a new high-strength body structure, multi-link
rear suspension and a lower center of gravity. The result for the Prius is a highly
engaging driving experience combined with exemplary ride smoothness and a
Hot-stamped and high tensile steels, which allow for intricate forms that are both
lightweight and strong, are used extensively throughout the body. Aluminum
components, including the hood and rear doorframes and brake calipers, help
keep vehicle weight low. Innovative fastening methods, including laser screw
welding and advanced adhesives, contribute to structural strength.
Peace-of-Mind Warranty Protection
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all
components other than normal wear and maintenance items. A 60-month
warranty covers the powertrain for 60,000 miles and against corrosion with no
mileage limitation. The hybrid-related components, including the HV battery,
battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are
covered for 96 months/100,000 miles.
The Prius also comes standard with ToyotaCare, a complimentary plan covering
normal factory-scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever
comes first. For Prius, the complimentary 24-hour roadside assistance is extended
to three years (over the standard two years on other models).