The Toyota Prius is one thing of a identified amount at this level. The world’s best-selling hybrid nameplate, it is most likely arduous to search out somebody who hasn’t heard of the fuel-sipping automobile. This yr, Toyota has a brand new strategy to entice much more patrons to the Prius way of life due to the addition of all-wheel drive as an possibility.

It is the primary main replace for this technology of the Prius, which went on sale within the US in 2016. However with a lot of the Prius’ enchantment predicated on its gasoline economic system and affordability, does the brand new AWD-e mannequin require large sacrifices on both entrance?

Upgraded powertrain

For probably the most half, the 2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e has the identical powertrain as every other mannequin. Up entrance is a 1.Eight-liter gasoline four-cylinder and an electrical motor-generator, which ship a mixed 121 horsepower. Nevertheless, the place the front-wheel-drive Prius has a Three.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 lowered susceptibility to chilly climate — i.e. the kinds of snowy climate by which one is likely to be driving an all-wheel-drive Prius. The ultimate change is on the rear axle, the place the Prius beneficial properties an electrical motor rated for 7 horsepower and 40 pound-feet.

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

As such, the motor is simply used at low speeds. It is 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. Once more, that is not going to offer a Prius Audi-like dealing with, nevertheless it ought to make it a little bit simpler to get entering into inclement circumstances.

Beneath the hood, the AWD-e mannequin makes use of primarily the identical powertrain as every other Prius.

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In fact, a observe: All-wheel drive solely helps with acceleration in snow and ice, not braking or steering. If you happen to’re recurrently driving in extreme winter circumstances, you would be effectively suggested to put in correct winter tires to your Toyota Prius, whatever the drive wheels. My take a look at automobile’s Dunlop Enasave rubber is concentrated on low-rolling resistance, not essentially final snow and ice efficiency.

Unchanged driving expertise

In fact, 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 little bit powerful. However on days with torrential rain, the Prius pulled away from a cease with none wheel spin, and the occasional grime or gravel street likewise proved no problem in any respect.

In any other case, this automobile drives similar to a regular Toyota Prius. Although 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 driving force’s seat.

There are few visible clues as to this automobile’s variations, except for an “AWD-e” badge on the again.

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General, the Prius is ready up fairly effectively for on a regular basis suburban commuting. The powertrain serves up its energy easily and unobtrusively, the experience over potholes is delicate and there is nice visibility in each path, due to a low beltline and large home windows. Round city, energy is satisfactory sufficient. On the freeway, although, the Prius is gradual to speed up and admits numerous wind and street noise into the cabin; test-drive and contemplate rigorously if you wish to use this automobile for lengthy freeway commutes.

Nonetheless, the Prius has floaty, disconnected dealing with and obscure 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 always making little corrections at velocity. And the gasoline engine sounds sad and strained when referred to as on to ship a lot of acceleration.

Break up with the gasoline station

Crucial query about this automobile, nevertheless, is how including all-wheel drive impacts gasoline economic 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 is 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 in the present day.

It is easy to get spectacular fuel-economy figures — even throughout a lot of slow-speed driving and idling for a video shoot.

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These are simply the window-sticker numbers, generated from lab checks, although. In the true 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 velocity restrict. The Prius is an awfully environment friendly automobile — even with the additional weight and complexity of AWD. Couple these economic system figures with an 11.Three-gallon gasoline tank and you’ll drive lengthy distances between gasoline stops.

Useful and spacious inside

The Toyota Prius has a purposeful and easy-to-use cabin. There are some bizarre parts, just like the dorky blue-plastic shifter and the center-mounted instrument cluster, the latter of which places some necessary advisory lights (headlights, parking sensors, airbag warnings, active-safety lights) manner far out of the driving force’s eye line on the passenger aspect of the sprint. Nonetheless, a daring digital speedometer and shade journey laptop are straightforward to learn at a look, and whereas it is irritating they are not proper in entrance of me, there’s a head-up show that exhibits my velocity, too.

The entire inside controls are simple to make use of and familiarize yourself with. I won’t select the two-tone remedy of my tester, however total the cabin supplies are high-quality — actually 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 within of the cabin feels mild, ethereal and roomy. All of the controls are straightforward to make use of.

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Among the many adjustments for the 2019 mannequin yr are further piano-black plastic trim, which seems 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 does not maintain my cellphone in place and I routinely discover it stops charging after the primary nook.

It is roomy, with a great deal of headroom within the entrance row, although as in lots of Toyotas, the steering wheel does not alter excessive sufficient or retract far sufficient into the sprint; I really feel just like the wheel is sort of resting on my lap. Within the again seat, there is a good quantity of leg- and headroom for adults, too. The hatchback cargo space affords 24.6 cubic ft of cupboard space with the again seats raised, higher than a Mazda3 hatch, increasing to 62.7 cubic ft with them lowered.

The Prius additionally received a light replace on the surface for 2019. I would be hard-pressed to establish the adjustments at a look — they embrace a brand new entrance bumper and new lights — and total the automobile nonetheless seems like a Prius. That is a foul factor within the sense that it nonetheless seems 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 particular person is driving a hybrid.” For lots of Prius buyers, it is a plus to drive a automobile that is unequivocally identifiable as a hybrid.

Low-grade expertise

For all of the expertise beneath the hood, the Prius’ in-car tech disappoints as a result of it is extra primary than what you get in rival automobiles — issues just like the Honda Perception, Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro, for example. 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 effectively 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.

However the system does not supply trendy tech like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, nor does it even supply built-in navigation or satellite tv for pc radio. These final two options are supplied on the Prius Restricted, which makes use of an 11.6-inch touchscreen — however that system is not obtainable at the same time as an possibility on every other Prius trim. And the Restricted just isn’t obtainable with AWD-e.

Issues are a lot better on the security entrance, with the 2019 Prius outfitted as normal 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.

Again-seat legroom must be high-quality for many passengers.

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Priced to maneuver

The ultimate gold star for the Toyota Prius AWD-e comes within the type of its reasonably priced pricing. In comparison with front-wheel-drive fashions, the AWD-e prices solely $1,400 further in its LE trim degree and $1,000 further in XLE type. Together with vacation spot, the automobiles price $27,310 and $29,750, respectively. Which 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 take a look at automobile rings in at a still-approachable $32,113.

At first blush, including price and decreasing the effectivity of a Toyota Prius looks as if a foul deal. However the 2019 Prius AWD-e asks solely the smallest sacrifices of its drivers. It is troublesome to place a value on the additional confidence a driver would possibly get from having all-wheel-drive in inclement climate — to say nothing of precise efficiency enhancements. The Prius nonetheless has all the identical professionals and cons because it ever did, however including all-wheel drive ought to make the automobile much more interesting to patrons within the Snowbelt.

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