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Toyota Prius AWD-e Puts The Hybrid Traction Down In LA

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2 mpg seems like a small price to pay for sure-footedness.

In the market for a hybrid? Toyota can hook you up with a variety of models. If you want your hybrid with all-wheel drive, though, your options have narrowed considerably. But they now include the Prius.

Revealed here at the LA Auto Show, Toyota is now offering an all-wheel-drive version of the Prius to join the hybrid versions of the RAV4 and Highlander. Only where those hybrid crossovers deliver fuel economy in the 30s, a Prius equipped with the new AWD-e system is projected to return 50 mpg on the combined cycle (48 on the highway, or 52 in the city).

That's only slightly down on the 56 mpg the front-drive Prius gets on the combined cycle, or the 53 it returns on the highway and 58 in the city. And those figures are for the L Eco model. The AWD-e option will only be offered on the LE and XLE trims, which (like the top Limited version) are rated at 52 mpg combined, 50 highway, and 54 city (in front-drive form). So in practice, the AWD version takes just a 2-mpg hit, making it "one of the most fuel-efficient AWD-equipped vehicles in America."

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No wonder, then, that Toyota figures as many as a quarter of Prius customers in the US will tick the AWD-e option box when placing their order from any of the nearly 1,500 dealerships across the country. Between them, those dealers sold over two million vehicles in America last year – roughly 160,000 of which were hybrids.

In the past 20 years, Toyota has sold over 10 million hybrids around the world, of which the Prius family has accounted for over 6 million units. And we can only assume that the availability of all-wheel drive will help the Japanese giant sell even more.

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