First of all, a HUGE thank you to Toyota of Long Beach20 minutes ago
Standard connectivity available only to original purchaser for 10 years. Connected access services are subject to change. Does not include emergency or security services. Vehicle diagnostics capabilities vary by model and plan. Message and data rates may apply. Requires contact method on file and enrollment to receive alerts. Not all issues will deliver alerts. See onstar.com for detail and limitations.
The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2007 on concerns that quiet cars like the Prius may pose a safety risk to those who rely on engine noise to sense the presence or location of moving vehicles. Blind pedestrians are a primary concern, and the National Federation of the Blind advocates audio emitters on hybrid vehicles, but it has been argued that increased risks may also affect sighted pedestrians or bicyclists who are accustomed to aural cues from vehicles. However, silent vehicles are already relatively common, and there is also a lack of aural cues from vehicles that have a conventional internal combustion engine where engine noise has been reduced by noise-absorbing materials in the engine bay and noise-canceling muffler systems. In July 2007, a spokesman for Toyota said the company is aware of the issue and is studying options.
What all-wheel drive won't do is help in the stopping department. Prius AWD-e models come shod with the same 15-inch, low-rolling-resistance Dunlop Enasave 01 all-season tires as front-drive Prius models. A good set of winter tires, even fitted to a front-drive Prius, would bring greater traction benefits to stopping as well as going. Mounted and balanced on a spare set of wheels, complete with TPMS sensors and wheel covers and shipped to your house from Tire Rack, these would run about $900. By comparison, the upcharge for all-wheel drive in a $25,900 Prius LE is $1400, and in the $28,740 XLE, it's $1000. Those are the two middle trims in Toyota's new Prius trim naming strategy; all-wheel drive is not available on the top-of-the-line Limited or the entry L Eco.
During a brief test drive on dry pavement, we were able to shake loose some rear-drive assistance during aggressive cornering, although this served more to confirm the existence of the rear motor than to improve handling. AWD-e does not bring with it any sort of performance-enhancing torque vectoring; the Prius is still happy to understeer. A few circles in a roundabout ("Big Ben! Parliament!") showed a narrow window of all-wheel-drive operation until stability control aggressively steps in. Given the sedate pace that most Prius drivers maintain, the rear wheels will rarely be powered, which is the way Toyota wants it, a necessity to maintain the Prius's fuel-sipping EPA numbers. On a short snow-covered course, however, the rear motor helped to get the car moving from a stop as promised and kept it moving through an inch or two of the white stuff.
The following table presents fuel economy performance and carbon emissions for all Prius family models sold in Japan since 1997. The ratings are presented for both, the older official 10-15 mode cycle test and the new JC08 test designed for Japan's new standards that went into effect in 2015, but was already being used by several car manufacturers for new cars. The Prius 2nd generation became the first car to meet Japan's new 2015 Fuel Economy Standards measured under the JC08 test.
Despite the newly available all-wheel-drive system, we'd stick with the standard front-drive Prius. Still, those who live where there are more winter months than summer months may appreciate the improved all-weather capability. We prefer the eco-friendliest Prius, which is the entry-level L Eco. It lacks the fanciest options and creature comforts found on more expensive versions, but it has higher fuel-economy estimates from the EPA and solid standard features. These include two USB ports for the back seat, push-button start, passive entry on the driver's door, and numerous driver assists such as adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and automatic high-beam headlights.
3rd Row Seating Adjustable Pedals Android Auto Anti-Theft Apple CarPlay Bed Liner Blind Spot Assist Bluetooth CD Player Climate Control Convertible Roof Cooled Seats Cruise Control Driver/Parking Assist Fog Lights Heated Mirrors Heated Seats Heated Steering Wheel iPod/iPhone Keyless Entry Keyless Start Leather Interior Memory Seats MP3 Navigation OnStar Power Liftgate Power Seats Power/Rear Shade Premium Entertainment Rain Sensing Wipers Rear Air/Heat Rearview Camera Roof/Cargo Rack Satellite Radio Side Airbags Steering Wheel Controls Sunroof/Moonroof Tinted Windows Tire Pressure Monitoring Touchscreen Towing Capability Valet Function/Key Xenon Headlights
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But the Prius AWD-e isn't quite like other all-wheel-drive vehicles. Instead of drawing from the engine to power the rear wheels, this new Prius uses a separate electric motor to enhance initial traction from 0 to 6 mph. If wheel slippage is detected, the motor will re-engage at speeds up to 43 mph. That means the rear wheels are only powered when needed, minimizing the detrimental effects that traditional all-wheel-drive systems have on fuel economy. Toyota estimates this new Prius AWD-e will achieve 50 mpg combined (52 city/48 highway), which is still very impressive. By comparison, the standard Prius gets an EPA-estimated 52 mpg combined, while the Prius L Eco earns 56 mpg combined.
If the vehicle is traveling at a low speed and the camera-based system detects that a front-end collision is imminent while following a detected vehicle and the driver has not already applied the system can automatically apply the brakes to potentially help reduce the collision’s severity. The system may even help avoid the collision at very low speeds.
The Prius picked up its trademark hatchback configuration for 2004, moving from a compact to a mid-size with improved backseat room. Horsepower from the gas engine and electric motor increased to 76 and 67 hp, respectively. First advertised at 60 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway, the numbers went to 48/45 with revised EPA ratings. A new gear shifter added a “B” for engine braking. Safety ratings improved, and side airbags were standard.
But it's the shift in consumer tastes toward compact crossovers that has most impacted the Prius. Toyota's own RAV4 Hybrid is neck-and-neck in sales this year, even with a base price that's almost $4000 higher and fuel economy numbers that start with 3s rather than 5s. If you're looking for an answer to the "Why all-wheel drive? Why now?" questions, this is it. It doesn't hurt that Toyota is already selling a nearly identical all-wheel-drive Prius in Japan, simplifying this marketing move.