Toyota Prius Adds Intelligent All-Wheel Drive for 2019

18 January 2019
  • New Toyota Prius available with intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD-i) for the first time
  • The next step in the self-charging hybrid driving experience, providing added peace of mind and support for the driver
  • New Prius also adopts fresh styling elements, new interior trims and enhanced equipment features
  • Second generation Toyota Safety Sense provided as standard on all versions

The Toyota Prius is the world’s original and best-selling self-charging hybrid car, with a heritage of technical innovation and leadership that spans more than 20 years. Now Prius is taking the next step forward in the hybrid driving experience with the introduction of an intelligent, electric all-wheel drive system.

Optionally available on the new 2019 Prius, AWD-i is a compact and lightweight system that operates automatically to support the driver in common scenarios where extra grip is needed. The system engages when the vehicle pulls away from standstill, and at higher speeds when it detects a loss of traction, for example on snow, ice and wet roads. The result is a more secure drive in difficult conditions and added peace of mind for the driver.

The system has been engineered specifically for Prius and its light weight and electric operation have minimal impact on the car’s fuel efficiency and low emissions. Compact packaging also means little penalty in terms of load space.

Toyota has at the same time introduced new front and rear styling treatments that give Prius a fresh look that adds emphasis to its clean and dynamic appearance. New wheel designs and cabin trims have also been produced, while new equipment features include a larger wireless charging tray to accommodate the new generation of smartphones, more intuitive and faster operation of the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system and added functionality for the head-up display.

All versions of the new Prius will be equipped with the second generation Toyota Safety Sense, with enhanced performance of systems to detect and warn the driver of accident risks and to initiate braking and steering adjustments to help prevent a collision, keep the car to its correct path and a safe distance from vehicles ahead, or reduce the consequences if an impact is inevitable.

The new Prius with AWD-i will initially be launched in selected Western European markets, including the UK. The roll-out will extend to other Central and Eastern European markets in the future. UK sales will be launched in the spring; details of prices, range and specifications will be announced nearer on the on-sale date.


  • The next step in the Toyota hybrid driving experience
  • All-Wheel Drive – intelligent uses an additional, independent rear electric motor to automatically provide rear-wheel drive when pulling away, or when low-grip conditions are detected
  • Tailor-made for Prius, the system is compact and lightweight, with minimal impact on fuel efficiency, emissions and load space

Maintaining its distinguished reputation for introducing new technologies, the new Prius takes the next step in the hybrid driving experience as the first self-charging Toyota hybrid non-SUV passenger car to feature all-wheel drive. This new system, AWD-i (All-Wheel Drive – intelligent) has been engineered specifically for Prius, so its operation has minimal impact on the vehicle’s exceptional fuel efficiency and low emissions.

It is designed to automatically provide extra grip when pulling away from stationary and in slippery conditions, such as on snow, ice and wet road surfaces. The driver gains extra peace of mind and car controllability in more challenging driving conditions that are commonly encountered in Europe, such as wet cobbled roads, snowy mountain routes or snow-covered uphill driveways.

AWD-i equips the Prius with an additional, independent, magnet-less electric motor (a Toyota first) and inverter, located on the rear axle and powered by the hybrid battery. The system automatically engages to provide additional drive to the rear wheels when pulling away, at speeds up to 6mph. At higher speeds – between 6 and 44mph – it will come into play, transferring torque to the rear axle when sensors detect a loss of grip. Again, operation is automatic and on-demand; the driver does not have to select AWD. The system does not operate in normal driving conditions, or under braking.

Unlike mechanical AWD systems, there is no driveshaft between the front and rear axles and no centre differential. This saves weight, supporting Prius’ efficient performance, and takes up less space. Its installation only reduces boot space by a modest 45 litres, while retaining a flat floor for ease of use.

The electric motor is compact and efficient, producing a maximum 5.3 kW but delivering high wheel torque of 570 Nm with a 10.4 reduction ratio. Its performance does not diminish Prius’s status as Toyota’s leader in CO2 emissions, with NEDC correlated figures from 85g/km and combined cycle fuel consumption from 58.7 to 64.7mpg (WLTP data)*. For markets which experience very cold conditions there is a new nickel-metal hydride battery available for use in the Prius with AWD-i to ensure optimum performance.

Prius’s self-charging hybrid powertrain is unchanged, featuring a 1.8-litre, Atkinson cycle, four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC petrol engine with Dual VVT-i intelligent variable valve-timing, working together with two compact yet powerful motor-generators. The engine is an object lesson in efficient performance, achieving a thermal efficiency of 40 per cent through a series of engineering innovations and improvements, including a large-volume exhaust gas recirculation system, combustion optimisation and heat management and friction reduction measures.  For 2019, Prius adopts a low viscosity engine oil to reduce the pistons’ sliding resistance and so help maintain excellent fuel efficiency. Emissions performance complies with the latest Euro 6d standards.

All versions of the new Prius feature a more rigid accelerator with a revised internal structure that gives enhanced response with less play. Its profile has been adjusted so that the surface is comfortable to use regardless of the driver’s height, and the stroke has been reduced so less ankle movement is required to fully depress the pedal.

* CO2 from 75 to 84g/km (NEDC correlated) for the front-wheel drive Prius with 59.6 to 68.4mpg (NEDC correlated).


  • New design details give Prius a cleaner look that engages the sense more strongly
  • Frontal look evolves with a re-profiled bumper and new, slimmer bi-LED headlight units
  • New rear combination lamps emphasise horizontal lines and the car’s wide, planted stance
  • New-design 15-inch wheelcaps and new finish for the 17-inch alloy wheel design

The fourth generation Prius introduced a striking new design, made possible by the car’s adoption of a Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform which gives the car lower lines overall and the design team greater opportunities to explore new styling opportunities. The design freedom produced a distinctive and athletic body silhouette that remains impressively aerodynamically efficient.

While Prius’s signature styling remains in place, detailed changes have been made that add emphasis to the cleanness of its lines, while engaging the senses more strongly. At the front, new, slimmer, sharper headlight units have been introduced, helping create a stronger horizontal line that broadcasts the car’s wide and planted stance. These feature bi-LEDs for high and low beam operation, LED clearance lights and LED daytime running lights. New socket-type round fog lights are located in the lower grille.

The front bumper has been re-profiled to create a strong pontoon shape, with the bottom edge below the lower grille given a floating effect, further expressing the car’s low centre of gravity. The peak point of the bonnet has been raised to generate a coherent, flowing line down the sides of the car, producing a more dynamic, flowing silhouette.

At the rear, new combination lamps again focus the eye on a strong horizontal line to emphasise the car’s low centre of gravity and are fitted with new-design light guides and lenses. Their arrangement contrasts with the vertical orientation of the previous units and the powerful visual effect they generate is given further emphasis by a new inverted trapezoid shape integrated in the tailgate around the licence plate.

The 2019 changes include the addition of two strong new colours to the range available for Prius – Scarlet Flare (more vivid than the previous red in the range) and Blue Crush metallic, a clean and highly chromatic shade of blue. The other choices are Pure White (solid), Hypersonic Red, Galactic Blue, Galaxy Black, Decuma Grey, Tyrol Silver and Autumn Silver metallic and Pearl White pearlescent.

The entry level Prius adopts a new 15-inch wheelcap design with a contrasting silver and black finish. The five-spoke 17-inch wheel design has a new silver and dark grey metallic finish.


  • Quality, comfort and peace of mind expressed in Prius’s interior design
  • New piano black trim details create a more coherent look
  • Introduction of new seat upholstery design

The interior of the Toyota Prius was conceived as a space that conveys peace of mind, being welcoming, quiet and comfortable. The “human tech” concept combines futuristic and stylish elements in a way that is rational and ingenious; the technology at work may be advanced, but when travelling in the Prius, driver and occupants are at their ease in a cabin that is comfortable and easy to use.

Toyota has further enhanced the quality of the interior, focusing on trim details and new, high-quality seat upholstery. The centre console has been given a cleaner, consistent look with a new piano black treatment. This also extends to the shift lever surround and matching inserts in the steering wheel. For convenience, switches for the heated front seats have been relocated to the centre console; on models without this feature, a small oddment tray has been added. The wireless smartphone charging tray in the console has been made larger (further details in the equipment features chapter).

The fourth generation Prius introduced a new front seat design that offers more comfort, yet weighs less and takes up less space. It provides a snug fit with excellent body holding, helping take the stress out of long journeys. For 2019, a new embossed upholstery fabric has been introduced for the mid-grade Prius, available in all-black, or a combination of cool grey with black accents. For added storage and convenience, the front seats have been fitted with seatback pockets with a fastener.

The attention to detail can be witnessed in a new module switch on the driver’s side of the instrument panel for control of the head-up display (where fitted) and the Automatic High Beam. By inserting a new separator between the two buttons, it is easier for the driver to select the right one while keeping their eyes on the road. It also helps prevent the controls being accidentally engaged when getting in and out of the car. The switches for the power windows and door mirror adjustment have also been changed to improve their feel when used.


  • Improved Toyota Touch 2 system with faster response, more intuitive operation and enhanced functions
  • Wireless charging tray increased in size to accommodate new generation smartphones
  • Head-up display functions extended to include turn-by-turn route guidance

Prius has a heritage of technology leadership for Toyota, responsible for introducing advanced equipment features that progress to become valued and popular across the wider Toyota model range. The improvements introduced with the new 2019 Prius include upgrades that keep pace with customers’ requirements for faster, smarter communication and access to information.

The Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system has been improved with the seven-inch touch screen now engineered to respond to pinch, flick and swipe gestures like those used on smartphones. The zoom level on maps can be change using pinch in/pinch out movements and the map can be moved with flick or swipe commands. Similarly, a flick gesture can be used to scroll through lists.

As well as being more intuitive to use, the system also responds more quickly and is now available with voice recognition for hands-free operation of key functions. Better sound reproduction can be enjoyed from the audio system with a new, more powerful amplifier and the use of Clari-Fi technology to maximise the sound quality from compressed music files.

Keeping pace with changes in portable device technology, the Qi wireless charging tray in the centre console has been increased in size so it can accommodate phones up to around 160 by 87mm. This makes it suitable for use with the latest generation of smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhone 8, Xr and Xs. In Prius versions without the charging tray, the area is covered with a non-slip rubber mat.

The head-up display available on higher grade Prius models is an important element in safer driving, ensuring the driver can access important data and information while keeping their eyes on the road ahead. The system has been upgraded to include new turn-by-turn route guidance, providing the driver with navigation commands with clear and crisp graphics projected onto the base of the windscreen.

The entry-grade model gains the new-look 15-inch wheel caps, the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system and new high-quality cloth upholstery. Other standard features include second generation Toyota Safety Sense, dusk-sensing bi-LED headlights with Automatic High Beam, follow-me-home function and integrated fog lights, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and a reversing camera.

The mid-grade Prius adopts the new 17-inch alloy wheel with contrast black and light grey finish and the head-up display gains turn-by-turn navigation directions. It also comes equipped with heated front seats, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, leather-covered steering wheel and soft-touch trim to the upper door sections.


  • Further enhancements in active safety systems that are delivering real-world reductions in common road traffic accidents
  • Pre-Collision System (PCS) with new and improved functionality, detecting potential collisions with pedestrians in day and night driving and bicycle riders in daylight
  • Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (iACC), Lane Departure Alert/Lane Trace Assist (LDA/LTA), Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Road Sign Assist (RSA) also included in Toyota Safety Sense package

The new Prius follows the new Toyota RAV4 in adopting the second generation of Toyota Safety Sense, benefiting from new and improved functions that can help prevent common types of accidents from happening, or help lessen the consequences if an impact cannot be avoided. The latest development of Toyota Safety Sense also reduces the burden on the driver, making driving easier as well as safer.

Since Toyota Safety Sense was first introduced in 2015, it has been featured on more than 10 million new vehicles worldwide, two million of these in Europe. Toyota is committed to democratising these important new technologies, ensuring they are made widely available so that as many drivers as possible can benefit from the protection and support they provide. This strategy is central to Toyota’s ultimate goal of a safe mobility society with zero road accident fatalities and injuries.

Second generation Toyota Safety Sense, fitted as standard to all versions of the new Prius, includes upgraded versions of the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, Road Sign Assist and Automatic High Beam. It also introduces Lane Trace Assist, which provides more advanced driving support. The latest advances are supported by enhanced performance of both a single-lens camera and a millimetre-wave radar, expanding the range of hazards that can be detected and improving functionality.

Pre-Collision System (PCS)

The functionality of the Pre-Collision System has been extended so that as well as vehicles it can now detect pedestrians on the road ahead during low-light driving as well as in daylight. It also has the added capability of recognising bicycles in the vehicle’s path*, at relative speeds of between approximately 6 and 50mph, during daylight hours. Where vehicles are concerned, the system can determine collision risks at speeds from zero to 112mph. If it calculates an imminent risk of collision, it will alert the driver and prepare the brakes (Pre-Collision Brake Assist) for maximum stopping force. If the driver fails to act, it will trigger Autonomous Emergency Braking, which can reduce vehicle speed by up to 25mph, potentially bringing the car to a stop and avoiding an impact.

Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (iACC)

Prius’s new intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control is also able to work in conjunction with the car’s Road Sign Assist system. When the car is travelling at a constant, pre-set speed, iACC can recognise new speed limits on major roads and let the driver adjust the speed to keep within the limit, simply by using switches on the steering wheel.

The system can now operate in low-speed following and stop-start driving, at speeds from 0 to around 19mph. In congested traffic, it will bring the Prius to a halt when the vehicle ahead comes to a stop, maintaining an appropriate distance. The driver can then restart the vehicle by pressing the accelerator pedal, or the ACC system switch on the steering wheel.

At speeds above 44mph, a new control linked to the driver’s use of the turn indicators helps secure smooth overtaking manoeuvres. When following a vehicle travelling slower than the pre-set iACC speed, preliminary acceleration is applied when the driver operates the turn indicator to change lanes. If the system detects a vehicle ahead in the overtaking lane, however, acceleration is suppressed, to prevent a sudden approach.

Road Sign Assist (RSA)

Road Sign Assist itself has been enhanced to that it is able to recognise a wider range of road sign warnings and commands, presenting the information on the driver’s colour TFT multi-information display. Where speed limits are concerned, the system can give both a visual and audible warning if the driver is exceeding the limit.

The system has been upgraded so that a greater number of traffic signs can be recognised, including speed limits, no overtaking commands, road conditions, stop and no entry signs, the start/end of highways, urban and residential areas and the end point of all restrictions.

Lane Trace Assist (LTA)

The enhanced Toyota Safety Sense portfolio for new Prius includes a new Lane Trace Assist function, which provides a degree of automated driving support. LTA monitors the line markings on motorways and principal routes and applies steering assist to keep the car centred within its lane, when travelling at speeds above 31mph. This can reduce collision risks and the burden on the driver when making long motorway journeys.

The iACC and LTA work together in slow, stop/go traffic, tracking the vehicle ahead within the traffic lane, maintaining a safe distance and speed, bringing the vehicle to a halt when necessary and moving off seamlessly when traffic flow resumes. This can relieve the driver of much of the stress of driving in slow traffic and significantly reduce the risk of common low-speed rear-end collisions.

Lane Departure Alert (LDA)

Lane Departure Alert has also been improved so that it is able to recognise road margins on straight roads where there are no clear lane markings. If it is difficult or impossible for the system to detect lane markings, for example when driving in heavy traffic, it will track the path of the vehicle ahead, using the front-mounted camera and radar. Also, in combination with LTA, it performs corrective steering operation when lane departure without the driver’s intention is detected.

The system includes a Sway Warning alert, detecting any drift in the vehicle’s path which typically happens when the driver is losing concentration or becoming tired. It will present a visual and audible warning, recommending the driver takes a break from the wheel.

Automatic High Beam (AHB)

Automatic High Beam helps the driver gain excellent forward visibility during night-time driving. It detects the headlights of oncoming traffic and the tail-lights of vehicles ahead, automatically switching between high and low beams to avoid dazzling other drivers. By making more frequent use of high beams, the driver gains an earlier chance of detecting pedestrians and other hazards.

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Toyota Prius Adds Intelligent All-Wheel Drive for 2019


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