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How The Toyota Prius All-Wheel Drive System Works

Toyota's recent teaser leads us to think it will add all-wheel drive to the Prius for 2019. Here is how that system will work.


The news that the new 2019 Toyota Prius will add all-wheel drive (AWD) for the U.S. market is the industry's worst kept secret. Toyota teased the new Prius with AWD this week and promises a big reveal on November 28th. Torque News does not know for certain that Toyota plans to add the AWD system that Toyota presently applies to Prius trims in other markets, but we sure hope they do. Assuming that Toyota does plan to announce this, we thought fans would like to see how the system works.

Prius AWD

Like in its RAV4 hybrid, Toyota's Prius system uses an electric-only rear wheel drive motor that is not mechanically connected to the engine in the front of the vehicle. Since the AWD system relies on this motor, it will not let the batteries go below about 20% charge before using the gasoline engine to generate power to recharge the batteries. The rear motor is used on demand so that the energy to spin the wheels is not wasted. In this type of system, there are no mechanical losses due to moving parts that are not required as in some other AWD designs.

AWD Prius

In practice, we found the RAV4 Hybrid's AWD system to be exceptionally good on snow covered roads. Despite any marketing videos you may see, nobody really expects any of the vehicles to be "off-roaders." The Prius, RAV4, and other Toyota products like the Lexus NX and RX hybrids with AWD and Highlander AWD are intended for use as "all-road" AWD systems that enable driving in winter conditions or in muddy conditions.

Watch for more news from Toyota in a couple of weeks. We will update our readers with information as it becomes available.