The 2019 Toyota Prius adopts which should make it more popular in states with snow and rain: all-wheel drive.
The new AWD-e system brings the added capability of having drive at all four wheels while only slightly sacrificing fuel economy, arguably the most important aspect of any Prius. Toyota estimates that the new AWD-e Prius will be rated at 52 mpg in the city and 48 on the highway for a combined 50 mpg. That’s down from the standard Prius’ fuel rating of 52 mpg combined and the Eco’s 56 mpg combined rating.
The gas-powered engine in the AWD-e model is still the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder just like in the standard Prius. Toyota estimates that once available, AWD-e will likely make up as much as 25 percent of U.S. Prius sales.
The idea for an all-wheel drive is not new, and in fact, the car has offered just such a setup in Japan since 2015 where it is called E-Four. The system works by employing an independent, magnet-less rear motor that drives the rear wheels. This engine works to get the wheels moving from 0 to 6 mph, then again whenever needed at speeds up to 43 mph.
A newly developed Nickel-Metal Hydride battery has also been developed for the AWD-e system that Toyota says will do better at keeping its charge in cold-weather conditions. Front-wheel drive Prii will continue to use a lithium-ion battery.
Storage in the AWD-e is not affected by the new battery or electric motor in the car, still coming in at 65.5 cubic feet when the 60:40 split rear seat is folded down.
The addition of all-wheel drive is certainly the headline for the 2019 Prius, but the car itself is also getting newly styled front and rear fascia along with some updates on the interior.
2019 Toyota Prius Trim Levels
First off, for 2019, the Prius drops its trim structure in favor of the corporate Toyota structure which is being spread to all vehicles. That trim walk goes: L Eco, LE, XLE and Limited. And if you want an AWD-e model, you have to get either LE or XLE. Two new colors are available for 2019 as well, Supersonic Red and Electric Storm Blue.
On the inside, XLE models will benefit from a new SofTex-trimmed heated front seats along with a SofTex-trimmed steering wheel which is supposed to help regulate temperature and basically stay cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather. XLE models get a new adaptive front lighting system, which comes standard on Limited models.
Standard equipment on all models includes the driver’s door keyless entry, push-button start, and Safety Sense P.
Safety Sense P is now standard across the entire Toyota lineup and it includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams (AHB), and full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control.
On the inside, the 4.2-inch info cluster screen remains, but it adds a new AWD-e system indicator which allows the driver to monitor what the system is doing and to give them their Eco Score, Eco Savings Record, Eco Wallet and Eco Diary, all different ways of keeping track of the Prius’ fuel efficiency. An available head-up display can also show the speed, navigation setting and the hybrid system indicator.
Toyota’s Entune Audio system will be standard in all AWD-e models, providing a 6.1-inch touch screen, AM/FM CD player, six speakers, an AUX jack, one USB 2.0 port and two USB charge ports, voice recognition, Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free. Limited trim models step this up with the Premium JBL audio system and a larger 11.6-inch multimedia display.