First of all, a HUGE thank you to Toyota of Long Beach20 minutes ago
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.
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Otherwise, the Prius AWD-e is similarly outfitted as its front-wheel-drive stablemates. The added weight (between 145 and 170 pounds) and power needs for the extra motor minimally affect the Prius' exemplary fuel efficiency. Toyota estimates the AWD-e will return 50 mpg combined, compared to the EPA-estimated 52 mpg for the standard Prius and 56 mph for the L Eco model. Also to Toyota's credit: The added mechanicals don't affect rear passenger space or cargo capacity. To make room for the extra hardware, Toyota did have to use a small gas tank; fuel capacity drops from 11.3 to 10.6 gallons on the AWD-e.