Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

Toyota Prius Hybrid gains All-Wheel Drive

The Toyota Prius Hybrid is now available with an intelligent, electric all-wheel drive system. 

Optionally available in the UK on the new 2019 Prius Business Edition Plus model, AWD-i is a compact and lightweight system that operates automatically to support the driver in scenarios where extra grip is needed. The system automatically engages when pulling away from standstill, and at higher speeds when it detects a loss of traction, for example on snow, ice and wet roads.

Engineered specifically for Prius, the system’s light weight and electric operation have minimal impact on the car’s fuel efficiency and low emissions. Compact packaging also means little penalty in terms of load space.

AWD-i equips the Prius with an additional, independent, magnet-less electric motor and inverter, located on the rear axle and powered by the hybrid battery. The system automatically engages to provide additional drive to the rear wheels when pulling away, at speeds up to 6mph. At higher speeds – between 6 and 44mph – it will come into play, transferring torque to the rear axle when sensors detect a loss of grip. This provides both peace of mind and extra driving pleasure. Again, operation is automatic and on-demand; the driver does not have to select AWD. The system does not operate in normal driving conditions, or under braking.

Unlike mechanical AWD systems, there is no driveshaft between the front and rear axles and no centre differential. This saves weight, and takes up less space. Its installation reduces boot space by 45 litres, but retains a flat floor.

The electric motor produces a maximum 5.3kW and delivers high wheel torque of 570Nm. CO2 emissions (NEDC correlated figures) are from 85g/km and combined cycle fuel consumption from 58.7 to 64.7mpg (WLTP data). 

The front-wheel drive Prius has CO2 emissions from 75 to 84g/km (NEDC correlated) with 59.6 to 68.4mpg (WLTP).

For markets which experience very cold conditions there is a new nickel-metal hydride battery available for use in the Prius with AWD-i.

The Prius’ self-charging hybrid powertrain is unchanged, featuring a 1.8-litre, Atkinson cycle, four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC petrol engine with Dual VVT-i intelligent variable valve-timing, working together with two motor-generators.

For 2019, the Prius adopts a low viscosity engine oil to reduce the pistons’ sliding resistance and so help maintain excellent fuel efficiency. Emissions performance complies with the latest Euro 6d standards.

Toyota has also introduced new front and rear styling treatments for the 2019 Prius.