2020 Toyota Prius AWD-e assessment: Kid’s play

A face solely a mom might love.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Toyota’s Prius is the OG hybrid. It has been saving gas all over the world for practically 1 / 4 century. However this gasoline-electric automobile hasn’t essentially been an awesome alternative for economy-minded motorists in areas topic to wintertime ice and snow. Rectifying this, the automaker launched a Prius with all-wheel drive, a variant that provides up little or no effectivity in alternate for enhanced traction in sloppy situations.

LikePunchy around-town performanceInsane real-world gas economySpacious inside

Do not LikeDisappointing dynamics, even for a hybridGets winded on the highwayIneffective lane-centering

With out even making an attempt, I’ve averaged practically 58 miles per gallon in an XLE-trim AWD-e mannequin, which is, frankly, astonishing. What makes that rating much more spectacular is it consists of loads of interstate driving at excessive speeds, a scenario the place hybrids are sometimes out of their component. These autos are typically extra environment friendly round city, the place frequent stops and begins allow them to recuperate power that might usually be wasted.

Based on the EPA’s nebbish number-crunchers, this all-wheel-drive gasoline-electric hatchback ought to ship 52 miles per gallon metropolis and 48 mpg freeway. Mixed, it is rated at an excellent 50. On paper not less than, this makes the AWD-e mannequin barely much less economical than different variations of the Prius. As an illustration, the extra-miserly L Eco variant stickers at a whopping 56 mpg mixed.

The guts of this automobile’s super-efficient drivetrain is a 1.8-liter I4. In regular use, this engine is okay, however it appears like a chunk of farm tools when working onerous, sending little tingles into the ground pan because it strains to maneuver the Prius. As in different Toyota hybrids, it is matched to a pair of integral motor-generators, which assist present a complete system output of 121 horsepower and round 105 pound-feet of torque — sufficient figures, if solely simply.

The Prius’ engine will not be essentially the most refined or potent powerplant ever constructed, however it’s wonderful in on a regular basis use. Because of electrical torque, the automobile has shocking around-town punch, although it turns into fairly winded at freeway speeds, gasping for breath at wide-open throttle as you strive outrun the tractor-trailer quickly filling the rearview mirror.

All-wheel-drive fashions additionally characteristic a rear-mounted motor that powers the aft tires, bringing 7 hp and 40 lb-ft to the social gathering. In regular driving, this association is completely seamless. You may by no means discover the all-wheel-drive system working in any respect, although the best way it really operates is slightly unconventional. That rear motor lends a hand when taking off from a cease, powering the aft tires as much as 6 mph. After that, it solely kicks in when additional traction is required and solely at speeds as much as 43 mph. It is there to supply extra grip, as dictated by driving situations, with out decreasing gas effectivity.

Working with the engine and motors, AWD-e variants of the Prius characteristic a 6.5 ampere-hour nickel-metal hydride battery, a less-advanced design than the lithium-ion chemistry utilized in front-drive fashions. This alteration supposedly gives larger resilience in excessive temperatures, since all-wheel-drive variants are extra probably for use in locations that have frigid climate.

This automobile’s braking efficiency is nice, although it isn’t fairly as seamless as in different hybrids. The pedal is initially gentle beneath regenerative braking, however then it will get a bit firmer as soon as the pads and rotors come into play, the transition between these two modes is a bit more apparent, a contact much less easy than in some competing fashions, although it isn’t horrible.

Like different autos constructed on the automaker’s TNGA platform, which incorporates every thing from the Camry and Avalon sedans to Toyota’s Highlander SUV, the Prius carries itself nicely. Yeah, on this utility the experience is a bit floaty, however it’s additionally refined, with no vibration or coarseness from the highway being telegraphed to the cabin, even when traversing heinous surfaces. Nothing about this construction feels flimsy, crude or low-cost.

Based mostly on the way it appears to be like, the Prius’ inside was in all probability designed by aliens.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The Prius is not a driver’s automobile, so do not anticipate Porsche Cayman ranges of steering precision; the wheel is gentle in your fingers and vaguer than US obscenity legal guidelines. My check mannequin’s 15-inch wheels are fitted with a set of Bridgestone Ecopia tires. Undoubtedly, they assist ship that spectacular real-world gas economic system, although they really feel like they’re manufactured from wooden, fairly stiff and offering little really feel.

Lane-departure alert with steering help is commonplace on all 2020 Prius fashions, a part of the Toyota Security Sense P suite of driver aids. This characteristic, which requires you to maintain your grubby paws on the tiller always, is sweet to have. It can gently nudge the automobile towards the center of the lane if you happen to occur to kiss one of many traces, however in contrast to correct lane-centering programs, the car will ping-pong from one marker to the opposite if you happen to do not make minor course corrections to maintain it within the center. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise management and automated excessive beams are commonplace tools within the Prius as nicely.

Matching the Prius’ alien exterior design is an equally uncommon inside. Its dashboard is straight-up weird, ostensibly bizarre for the sake of being bizarre, with no instrument cluster in entrance of the motive force. As an alternative, you retain monitor of pace and different important car capabilities on a display screen on the base of the windshield or through an obtainable head-up show, which is obvious and simply adjusted to go well with different-sized drivers.

This automobile’s gas effectivity could also be stellar, however its infotainment system is mediocre at finest.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Mounted within the middle of my tester’s inside and surrounded by piano-black trim, which attracts an limitless quantity of mud and fingerprints, is a 7-inch touchscreen. It is house to one more middling Toyota infotainment system, although Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility are commonplace throughout the vary. Android Auto is, nonetheless, conspicuously absent.

My XLE tester additionally has a Qi wi-fi charging tray, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and parking sensors. Helpful stuff. Heated exterior mirrors and rain-sensing wipers are additionally included.

The Prius’ tulip-shaped digital shifter sprouts from the underside of the middle stack. It is oddly satisfying and annoying to make use of on the identical time. It has a pleasant tactile really feel, however the separate park button is fiddly and the automobile beeps annoyingly inside whenever you shift into reverse. Like, yeah, I do know the automobile is in reverse; I actually simply shifted it. I am undecided why Toyota thought this was mandatory however it’s positively bothersome.

This physique was constructed to cheat the wind, which undoubtedly helps the Prius return stellar gas economic system.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

When you do not thoughts its uncommon format, the Prius’ inside is nice sufficient, constructed largely of sentimental plastic embossed with a rough texture. The SofTex leatherette-covered seats are comfy entrance and rear, plus there’s loads of cargo house, as much as 62.7 cubic toes with the aft backrests folded down, which is about three cubes lower than front-drive variations provide due to the extra AWD {hardware}.

The Prius AWD-e is available in two trim ranges, LE and XLE. With the $800 Superior Expertise Package deal, which features a head-up show and adaptive entrance lights amongst different issues, plus a smattering of extra minor choices like door edge guards and a rear bumper applique, my Prius assessment unit checks out for a comparatively modest $31,757, together with $955 in vacation spot charges. That is not way more than an optionless LE mannequin, which may be had for proper round $28,000. In fact, if you happen to do not want all-wheel drive, the bargain-basement Prius L Eco mannequin is about three grand extra reasonably priced than that.

The supply of all-wheel drive within the Prius is a welcome addition. 4-corner traction broadens the automobile’s attraction to eco-minded motorists dwelling in Maine, Michigan, Minnesota or anyplace else that receives the wrath of Outdated Man Winter. If you would like a car that is stupidly environment friendly and certain as dependable as a blacksmith’s anvil — and if you happen to do not care about issues like pace or model — that is the automobile for you.

About the author: SubSellKaro

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