KOHLER, Wis. — Depending on where you live, the unavailability of all-wheel drive on any certain car model could be a deal-breaker. Whether they need it or not, some people refuse to go without, even if they're not concerned enough to switch to snow tires when they set their clocks back an hour in the fall. Having four driven wheels won't make you stop any quicker on ice, but the "AWD" badge on the back instantly adds 15 confidencepower. If the lack of all-wheel drive has been what's kept you from enjoying the impressive efficiency of a Prius hybrid, Toyota has something new it'd like to show you. Toyota unveiled the 2019 Prius AWD-e at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. With 50 miles per gallon combined, it'll be the most efficient all-wheel-drive vehicle you can buy without a plug when it goes on sale in January 2019. For those who swear by high mpg but want AWD (or vice versa) this is a great thing. The Prius nameplate has been a go-to for those who want a car that's economical both up front and at the pump. Now, those four-wheels-driven stalwarts in the Snow Belt can enjoy similar frugality. Not only that, but Toyota has listened to the masses and scaled back the visual weirdness for 2019. The updated lighting front and rear makes this car much more approachable. Inside, gone is the sea of white plastic, which simultaneously managed to look both dramatic and cheap. Instead is more palatable piano black plastic on the center console, the shifter surround and the steering wheel. There have been a couple other minute tweaks, such as placing seat heater buttons in better view near the cupholders, and adding extensions to the sun visors. Finally, the Prius adopts the grade naming of the rest of the Toyota lineup – L, LE, XLE and Limited — with the AWD-e version available in LE ($27,300) and XLE ($29,740) trims. Power to the front wheels comes from the same 1.8-liter gasoline-fueled four-cylinder engine as every other Prius, along with a pair of motor/generators, to provide a combined 121 horsepower. Unlike other Prius models that use a lithium-ion battery pack, the AWD-e instead relies on a nickel-metal hydride pack. Toyota says the battery chemistry switch was made in order to provide superior cold-weather performance. The all-wheel-drive system in this Prius has been engineered to maintain the efficiency customers demand while providing a traction benefit when needed. As such, the rear motor — which supplies just 7.1 horsepower, but a much more significant 40.6 pound-feet of torque — operates independently from the rest of the powertrain. There's no driveshaft to link the rear axle to the gas engine or front motors. It puts equal power to each rear wheel through an open differential with no mechanical torque vectoring involved, and the wheels can be braked independently as needed to compensate. The rear motor isn't providing power all the time, either. It's always on from 0 to 6 …
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|MPG||54 City / 50 Hwy|
|Transmission||CVTi-S 2-spd CVT w/OD|
|Power||95 @ 5200 rpm|
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