Welcome to the 2020 Toyota Prius AWD the little e that you see here stands for how the all-wheel-drive system works.
The rear-drive unit isn’t connected to the internal combustion engine out front at all! It’s a rather small magnet-less 7hp 41 lb-ft of torque electric motor. What this equates to is a MONSTER Prius!!! Okay, not really, but it does aid traction when setting off and during this week’s snow I didn’t have any problems at all.
The Prius itself for 2019 was updated with revised front and rear ends that make it look a bit better than the angular option of the past. The only problem is next to the Prius Prime, well the Prime certainly is the much better-looking car. It fits better within the Toyota range. Worst yet Toyota kinda shot themselves in the foot with the introduction of the Corolla hybrid. Sure it may not have as much headroom and the cargo capacity is a bit smaller but the new Corolla is a looker. The sleek front end is a much better design overall than the Prius. That said, the Prius does return a better economy up to 58 mpg combined however with the AWD system we have here it, it does reduce that to 50 mpg.
Inside the Prius, it has decent materials where your hands would typically rest. The soft armrest and dash are sleek to the touch. In the previous years, a lot of the interior plastic trim was glossy white. I guess that didn’t go well so they switch to piano black; the only problem is now we can see smudgy fingerprints all over.
The center of the vehicle is taking up by this massive 11.6” vertically mounted screen that has CarPlay. Sorry Android users still no Android Auto. But the system itself is a bit odd. When using CarPlay, it only takes up the top half of the screen. The same with the back-up camera so we don’t fully utilize the display itself. It’s almost like they designed this with just the smaller display in mind. The display itself is another problem. Under some conditions where there’s bright sunlight, it’s hard to see the screen as it’s just not bright enough. Maybe that’s why you can’t spec the top trim AWD model with a sunroof.
As for the rest of the interior, the seats on this example are SofTex also known as fake leather but they do feel nice and cushy. What’s lacking is adjustments unlike the fwd models we can’t get powered driver seats or adjustable lumbar support. For the refresh, Toyota did move the heated seat controls more towards the driver for easier access.
For the rear passengers, the bubbly roof means there’s plenty of room for four. Five would be tight but acceptable. Behind the seats, there’s even a large 24.6 cut ft cargo space thanks to the hatchback design. Plenty of space for strollers, groceries, and much much more.
On the road, the Prius is exactly how you expect it. It’s no powerhouse and it’s not fast but it sure is efficient. Driving the Prius every day is quite pleasant, its quiet and road noise is kept to a minimum. No, it’s not Lexus like quiet but while the engine is off, it’s pretty close. Under the hood, the 1.8L 4 cylinder makes 121hp and 105 lb-ft. Floor the accelerator and the Prius will accelerate, just. The engine will complain and the CVT transmission will tell you that you’re not being eco friendly.
Mechanical grip is limited due to eco tires but what’s surprising is even on the snow the Prius was confidently accelerating with little to no problems. Sure braking was sketchy at best but I never got stuck where other front-wheel-drive cars were. The rear-drive unit can activate up to 43mph to aid acceleration but generally, it’s used when setting off up to 6mph.
Overall the Prius AWD is made for someone who lives in the colder climate, wants something economical, and doesn’t want an SUV. Because if they did the Rav4 hybrid would be an excellent choice. With a base price of $29,000 Canadian or with all the options we got here about $33,000 it’s basically the same price as a base model Rav4 hybrid. But for those who are looking for an economical family sedan, the Prius is a no-brainer. It’s efficient, reliable, and everything one would need when it comes to a practical family sedan.