The biggest change is the addition of an electric all-wheel drive system which used to be available in only a handful of markets such as Japan. When equipped, the car comes with an additional electric motor that powers the rear wheels at speeds up to 43 mph (69 km/h).
The electric motor is powered by a newly developed Nickel-Metal Hydride battery that has been designed to provide excellent performance in cold weather. The battery fits under the rear seat and doesn’t have any impact on the interior as the model still offers 65.5 cubic feet (1,854 liters) of cargo space.
Toyota says the Prius AWD-e should be one of the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive passenger cars in America. This seems possible as the company believes the model will have a fuel economy rating of 52 mpg city, 48 mpg highway and 50 mpg combined. For comparison, the front-wheel drive Prius L Eco is expected to have a fuel economy rating of 58 mpg city, 53 mpg highway and 56 mpg combined.
While Toyota was slow to offer the all-wheel drive Prius in the United States, the company has high hopes for the model. If their estimates are correct, up to 25 percent of Prius sales could come from all-wheel drive variants.
Besides the newly available all-wheel drive system, the 2019 Prius adopts a new front bumper and restyled headlights. The same changes are echoed out back as Prius fans will find more traditional taillights and a reworked bumper. The model also gains a revised steering wheel and two new exterior colors called Supersonic Red and Electric Storm Blue.
All 2019 Prius hatchbacks will come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of driver assistance systems. They include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beam headlights and full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control.