2019 Toyota Prius Arrives In LA, Now With AWD Traction

2018 LA Auto Show

Now you can get 50 mpg even when it snows.

After announcing trim changes for the 2019 Prius, Toyota teased an image of a Prius driving on a snow-covered road. We guessed this was a teaser for a new all-wheel-drive version of the Prius and it looks like our guess was correct. The 2019 Toyota Prius makes its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show along with a new AWD-e system.

Now, even drivers who live in snowy climates will be able to achieve 50 mpg. With most of the competition only offering front-wheel-drive, this should give the Prius a major edge in markets with cold climates. Toyota estimates the new AWD-e model will account for as much as 25% of Prius sales.

Toyota says the 2019 Prius will be one of the most fuel-efficient AWD passenger vehicles available in the United States. Manufacturer projected mpg figures are 52 mpg city, 48 mpg highway, and 50 mpg combined. Toyota will also continue to offer the Prius with FWD, which can achieve up to 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway, and 56 mpg combined in the L Eco grade. LE, XLE, and Limited grades can achieve up to 54 mpg city, 50 mpg highway, and 53 mpg combined.

If you select an LE trim or higher, selecting the AWD will only cost two to three mpg in each category. Toyota was able to achieve this impressive fuel economy by designing a highly unique AWD system. The AWD-e system does not require a center differential, torque-apportioning device, or front-to-rear driveshaft. Instead, the "e" in AWD-e stands for electric and uses a Toyota first magnet-less rear motor to provide power to the rear wheels. The rear motor powers the rear wheels from zero to six mph to pull away from a stop, then when needed up to 43 mph. This system is able to recognize when AWD is not needed in order to preserve fuel economy.

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In addition to the new AWD system, Toyota has also given the Prius a facelift for 2019. While the new Prius still isn't what we'd call sleek, Toyota has softened some of the lines on the front and rear fascias to create what we believe is a far more attractive car than the outgoing model. Toyota has also introduced two new exterior colors called Electric Storm Blue (pictured here) and Supersonic Red.

For 2019, the Prius drops its numeric model grade strategy in favor of a more conventional naming strategy. AWD-e models will arrive in LE and XLE trims with new 15-inch two-tone alloy wheels with wheel covers. Amazingly, Toyota has managed to package the AWD system without compromising the Prius' 65.5 cubic feet of storage space. The compact Nickel-Metal Hydride battery is stored under the rear seat so it does not impact storage space, unlike the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime we tested recently, which had severely compromised storage space.

Inside, the standard head unit is a 6.1-inch touchscreen with six speakers. The limited grade includes a larger 11.6-inch HD display like the one found in a high trim Prius Prime. In our experience, the larger infotainment display is a bit of a hassle to use thanks to a lack of physical controls like a volume or tuning knob. As before, the main infotainment display is supplemented by a customizable 4.2-inch multi-information display on the dashboard (which now includes an AWD display) as well as an optional head-up display.

As standard, the 2019 Prius includes a driver's door smart key system with push-button start, and Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). TSS-P includes a bundle of safety features including pre-collision with pedestrian avoidance, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. XLE and Limited grades include smart key access on three doors an adaptive front lighting system is available on XLE grades and standard on Limited grades.

Although the styling has changed and the AWD-e system is new, the Prius still relies on a 1.8-liter 2ZR-FXE four-cylinder engine combined with two electric motors, which send power out through a CVT. Pricing has not been revealed, though we expect it to remain close to the 2018 model with AWD-e models commanding a bit of a premium. All 2019 Prius models will come with a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty with a five-year, 60,000 powertrain warranty as well as two years or 25,000 miles of complimentary maintenance.

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