First of all, a HUGE thank you to Toyota of Long Beach20 minutes ago
We also drove both cars on a flat but snow-covered road with an obstacle course that required a quick right-left S-turn. When we tried the maneuver in the front-drive Prius, its front tires were easily overwhelmed when we accelerated and steered at the same time. Because of that, it was hard to keep the car from running wide. With AWD-e, there was still some squirming through the course, but it was far more composed and easy to drive.
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The Prime has an EPA-rated all-electric range of 25 mi (40 km), over twice the range of the first generation model, and an EPA rated fuel economy of 133 mpg‑e (25.9 kW⋅h/100 mi) in all-electric mode (EV mode), the highest MPGe rating in EV mode of any vehicle rated by EPA with an internal combustion engine. Among all-electric cars, only the Hyundai Ioniq Electric has a higher energy efficiency, rated at 136 mpg‑e (25.3 kW⋅h/100 mi; 15.7 kW⋅h/100 km).
The Prius will be available with all-wheel drive — Toyota calls it AWD-e — in its midgrade trim levels. The hybrid system under the hood returns unchanged, but Toyota added another electric motor between the rear wheels. It provides additional traction upon initial acceleration and, when needed, up to 43 mph. In order to better cope with colder climates, Toyota also replaced the usual lithium-ion battery pack with a nickel-metal hydride unit on the AWD-e.
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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.