Toyota Finally Offers the Prius with AWD in the U.S.
Toyota Prius AWD-e With An Electric Motor At The Backby Safet Satara, on
Toyota just unveiled an all-wheel drive Prius for the North American market. Not only that, the new Prius looks a tad finer (actually, less bizarre than before) and gives us the AWD technology that dispenses with the usual torque converters and driveshafts. The Toyota Prius AWD-e actually introduces us to an extra electric motor rigged to the rear wheels. It will apply power as needed up to 6 mph when accelerating and up to 43 mph when the computer senses that additional torque is needed (when the front wheels slip basically).
How Did The Prius Come To Be An AWD Car?
The latest Prius isn’t exactly a big seller, or nearly as popular as some of its previous versions (I have some conspiracy thoughts as to why that is, but I’ll save you from it for now). Obviously, the Prius had to have some special type of AWD and what could fit it better than an electric motor on the rear axle!? Nothing probably. Sure, fuel efficiency was sacrificed a bit, but that is a small price to pay for the added benefits. I guess, at least.
After all, Toyota still claims 50 mpg for it, making the Prius AWD-e one of the most fuel-efficient cars with an all-wheel-drive system on the market.
Interestingly enough, the Prius AWD-e does not have the same lithium-ion battery as the FWD model. Instead, it is equipped with a nickel-metal hydride hybrid battery. I am quite sure that this battery has a better chance to withstand cold temperatures the Prius AWD-e is bound to experience more than the regular Prius. In plain English - people up North will buy it more. The battery for the rear electric motor sits under the rear seats and does not protrude into the cabin, or hamper luggage capacity. Quite an achievement for a car as packed as a Prius.
Bear in mind that a solution like this is not a novel one on the market. First of all, the Toyota Prius AWD-e has been available in Japan for years. Second of all, cars like the Peugeot 508 Hybrid, SUVs like the Volvo XC60 plug-in hybrid, some Acuras and what not, have a similar propulsion system with an electric motor or motors actually powering the rear wheels. Obviously, Toyota did not even reinvent hot water with it, but that does not make the Prius AWD-e less appealing. It makes it, if nothing, reasonable. This word describes it best. Actually, it did before Toyota started playing with some extreme styling. True, it was softened up with the introduction of the new model.
Before I get into the styling department, let me tell you that the Prius AWD-e is available only in LE and XLE grades.
New Exterior Touches
The front and back have both been neatly redesigned.
Nothing major has been changed, but a new line here, a new crease there, a slightly different shape of the headlights and taillights, all made the Prius far easier on our eyes.
I like it more like this. That wasn’t a difficult task, though - I did not like it before at all. The wheels are also new and curiously small - only 15 inches in diameter. The changes to the exterior do resonate with what one can see on the Prius Prime. And this is a good thing as the Prius Prime feels like a looker. It’s courageous.
Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e is LOADED
Standard Toyota Safety sense, heated front seats with 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, Entune Audio system, Multi-Information Display, and Bluetooth hands-free phone controls are only a part of the equipment inside. Add to this standard Smart Key System and Push Button Start, and the Prius AWD-e seems almost fantastic.
As infotainment is all the craze today, let me tell you what the standard Entune Audio system for the Prius AWD-e actually entails:
- 6.1 in. Touch-Screen display,
- AM/FM CD player,
- 6 speakers,
- auxiliary audio jack,
- one USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity,
- two 2.1-amp USB charge ports,
- advanced voice recognition,
- Bluetooth hands-free phone capability,
- phone book access and music streaming,
- Siri Eyes Free,
- an integrated backup camera display.
Quite a bit, obviously
While the Toyota Prius AWD-e still has the Atkinson cycle 1.8-liter up front, along with an electric motor that makes it a hybrid, the Japanese have added another electric motor at the back and turned it into an AWDcar. This is a smart setup because it did not add a lot of complexity and weight. With incredible SUV sales in our country, I am quite sure that the Prius AWD-e will try to steal a bit of buyers from the SUV segment that basically overshadowed everything.
Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Prius.