2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e First Drive: Can A Prius Be Fun?

All-wheel drive is not new for the Toyota Prius. Japan, for example, has enjoyed four wheels turning in unison since 2016. Also, it’s not like inclement weather is a newly discovered phenomenon either. Perhaps four-and-a-half generations just seemed like the proper waiting period to add rear-wheel power to the world’s best-selling hybrid? No idea, but here we are with the 2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e, the first Prius in North America to offer all-wheel drive. First! (But really second.)

And why the “e” for the Prius’ AWD designation? Because like the line dancing song, it’s electric. The snow-season boogie woogie comes from a Toyota-first, independent, electric, magnet-less rear motor, which has an output seven horsepower and 41 pound-feet of torque. The system doesn’t require a center differential or front-to-rear driveshaft either, making it approximately 25-percent more compact than the all-wheel-drive systems in other Toyota vehicles.

Also, no magnet means less drag, helping the Prius AWD-e achieve a Toyota-estimated 52 city, 48 highway, and 50 combined miles per gallon. Not bad considering non-AWD versions post 54/50/52 mpg and the Eco model is rated at 58/53/56 mpg – all carryover figures from the EPA-rated 2018 model.

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e: First Drive

The AWD-e system powers the rear wheels from zero to six miles per hour, at which point the Prius will remain in front-wheel drive. Should vehicle sensors determine that driving conditions warra...