Toyota is offering a new electric all-wheel drive system (AWD-e) on the facelifted 2019 Prius. Toyota projects fuel economy of 52 mpg city / 48 mpg highway / 50 mpg combined for the AWD-e model, and estimates that the AWD-e model—which is debuting at the LA Auto Show—could account for as much as 25% of annual US Prius sales.
The front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2019 Prius will offer manufacturer-projected fuel economy estimates of 58 mpg city / 53 mpg highway / 56 mpg combined on the L Eco grade, while the LE, XLE and Limited has projected fuel ratings of 54 mpg city / 50 mpg highway / 52 mpg combined.
The automatic on-demand AWD-e system does not require a center differential or other torque-apportioning device, nor does it need a front-to-rear driveshaft. The Prius AWD-e uses an independent electric, magnet-less rear motor (a Toyota first) to power the rear wheels from 0 to 6 mph, then when needed, up to 43 mph. This system provides the power to the rear wheels to pull away from a stop, yet the on-demand system recognizes when all-wheel-drive performance is not needed to provide great fuel economy.
The AWD-e models use a newly developed compact Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery that is designed to provide excellent performance in cold-weather conditions. The AWD-e battery fits under the rear seat area and does not impact the luggage capacity. FWD models will feature a Li-ion battery.
The Prius AWD-e shares the Hybrid Synergy Drive system with other Prius models. The system combines the output of a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and two motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Electronically Controlled Brake System coordinates control between the regenerative braking and the vehicle’s hydraulic brake force to provide optimal brake performance and feel.
Due to ultra-low internal friction and efficient combustion, the 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine exceeds 40% thermal efficiency, which is among the highest in the world for a gasoline engine.
The Prius gets a good share of its fuel efficiency by cheating the wind with an ultra-low 0.24 coefficient of drag (Cd), which is among the lowest of current production passenger cars. An automatic grille shutter reduces drag by closing when airflow to the radiator is not needed. The air conditioning system, which uses a quiet electric compressor, works intelligently to maximize energy efficiency. The Smart-flow (S-FLOW) mode directs airflow only to seated occupants to conserve energy and maximize comfort.
Standard Bi-LED headlamps and LED rear combination lamps reduce energy consumption compared to halogens, while giving better light and having a longer service life. A backup camera comes standard on all grades, and a full-width glass panel beneath the rear spoiler aids rearward visibility while also serving as a distinctive design feature.
The Prius AWD-e models offer the same 65.5 cu. ft. of carrying space with the standard 60:40 split rear seatbacks lowered as other Prius models. That’s more than in some small SUVs and larger than most full-size sedans. Expanding carrying options, the Prius AWD-e will offer available Genuine Toyota Accessory cargo crossbars for roof rack attachments, such as for carrying bikes, kayaks, snowboards, or a cargo carrier. The Prius AWD-e XLE features upgraded SofTex-trimmed, heated front seats with 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
The Prius comes standard with driver’s door Smart Key System, Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry. The XLE and Limited grades include Standard Smart Key System on three doors. An Adaptive Front Lighting System is available on the XLE grade and is standard on the Limited grade. And, Toyota Safety Connect, standard on Limited models, includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification and comes with a complimentary three-year trial subscription.
All 2019 Prius models, including the Prius AWD-e versions, come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). Using millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera sensor to help detect a pedestrian, a vehicle, and lane markers and headlights in the surrounding area, TSS-P provides a comprehensive bundle of active safety features including: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/ PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
Because all Prius models, under certain circumstances, can operate in battery mode alone, during which they make little to no noise, they incorporate a Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS) to help alert pedestrians and cyclists.