It's the two things people love: The Prius and SUVs.
We recently had the opportunity to sample the 2019 Prius with Toyota's new AWD-e system, which Toyota says will account for 25% of total Prius sales. This new AWD Prius is able to handle inclement weather while still maintaining a 50-mpg average. Interestingly, when Toyota was explaining potential rivals for the car, its own RAV4 Hybrid was mentioned as the closest competitor.
As with AWD on the Prius, Toyota expects the hybrid model to account for 25% of RAV4 sales. The RAV4 Hybrid manages to achieve just under 40-mpg combined, which is excellent for a crossover. In fact, the RAV4 could pose a serious threat to Prius sales.
The RAV4 hybrid already put the nail in the Prius V's coffin and Toyota is seriously reconsidering the standard model's hatchback bodystyle. Honda decided to build its Prius rival, the Insight, as a sedan, while Kia's Niro is a slightly lifted crossover. If Toyota was paying attention to the market, it would stand to reason the Prius would morph into some sort of crossover.
Rendering artist Kleber Silva came up with an idea of what a Prius SUV would look like - it appears to be a Prius front fascia grafted onto a Lexus NX. This may seem like an odd combination but the 2019 Prius' front end looks right at home on the Lexus body.
Despite many prior years of success, a downturn in Prius sales is expected for 2019. Low gas prices may be a major factor, though we believe the draw of the RAV4 Hybrid has a lot to do with it as well. We will be interested to see how Toyota proceeds here - a Prius crossover sounds like a sales success in the making, though we aren't sure how it would be different from the RAV4 Hybrid.
The sedan bodystyle has also been more successful in the US market and Toyota has already revealed an all-new Corolla Hybrid to satisfy this segment. We aren't sure where this leaves the Prius - perhaps the long-established hybrid may finally have outgrown its usefulness.