Although a pioneer for electrification, the Toyota Prius has had a hard move lately. With gas cheap and definitely stays…
Although a pioneer for electrification, the Toyota Prius has had a hard move lately. With gas cheap and definitely stays so far forever (* wink, wink *) Americans have moved full power to big SUVs and trucks and away from hybrids and other smaller and more efficient cars. But the Prius updated-for-2019 has a new trick up its sleeve that can help something: all-wheel drive and done in a smart way.
On the LA Auto Show this week, Toyota will reveal the 2019 Prius with an optional system known as AWD-e. With this, Prius is probably the most effective AWD car on the market, with a calculated combined 50 mpg. It’s a bit worse on the fuel economy than the usual Front Wheel Drive Prius, but I’m driving a 34-year-old BMW that has to be tanked every 30 minutes, so I would not complain if it was my car.
However, the AWD-e is an interesting AWD system because it releases mechanical differences and drive axes in favor of an electric motor that drives the rear wheels that turn on as required. Here’s the explanation of Toyota:
Toyota’s AWD e-system is ideal for Prius. The automated demand system requires no central differential or other torque distribution unit, and does not need a drive shaft front and back. Instead, “e” in AWD- e stands for electrical. The Prius AWD-e uses an independent electric, magnetic-free rear engine (a Toyota first) to drive the rear wheels from 0 to 6 mph, when required, up to 43 mph. This system gives the power to the rear wheels to pull away from a stop, but the demand system recognizes when all-wheel drive performance is not needed to provide high fuel economy.
Whoosh! It goes, blowing through the snow. It’s basically a WRX now.
Toyota’s designers seem to have also called back the current Prius super aggro anime cyborg face a little, but it’s just a little and maybe not enough to save it. We have heard that the appearance of the new Prius has not helped sales to surprise here or in other countries, so while it’s hardly beautiful now it might have been the best they could do with what they had.
The rest of the Prius is the same, with a 1.8 liter four-cylinder gasoline that is connected to a hybrid electrical drive system that puts the power on the wheels through a CVT. Interestingly, the AWD model uses a nickel-metal hydride battery that is probably optimized for cold weather conditions, while the standard FWD Prius uses a lithium-ion battery.
Pricing has not been announced yet, but expects a premium over the FWD model. Anyway, if you live in a place with nasty winters and refuse to migrate to a big SUV like everyone else, it’s probably worth a look. A Prius may not be the most exciting car to drive in the world, but it’s very good to do what it’s meant to do.