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LA show: Facelifted Toyota Prius checks in

Fresh look for Toyota Prius, but Australia to miss out on new AWD-e version

Toyota logo29 Nov 2018

TOYOTA Australia will stick with front-wheel drive when its facelifted Prius arrives on this market in April next year.
 
An all-wheel drive version – dubbed Prius AWD-e – was revealed at the Los Angeles motor show overnight as part of the new-look Prius line-up.
 
However, Toyota Australia ruled it out, saying the all-paw version would be confined to North America where it is expected to command up to 25 per cent of sales.
 
The biggest changes to the Prius for Australia will be cosmetic, with new front and rear styling treatments and tweaks to the interior.
 
Slimline bi-beam LED headlights are the most obvious change, along with new vertical daytime driving lights in the new-look bumper that Toyota says now blends better with the side lines of the body.
 
At the back, wider tail-lights mimic the new headlights while at the same time attempting to make the Prius look wider.
 
Two fresh colours (a red and blue) and new-look wheels – 17-inch alloys on the upscale i-Tech and 15-inch steels with caps on the base model – complete the exterior makeover.
 
Inside, the Prius for Australia will miss out on the large, tablet-style touchscreen shown in Los Angeles, but will get a new 7.0-inch screen with smartphone-style pinch and flick capability.
 
Some instrument controls have also been updated, along with upholstery choices.
 
The refreshed Prius will be one of three hybrid vehicles to launched by Toyota in Australia in 2019, with the new RAV4 hybrid making its debut in the first half of the year and the first Corolla sedan hybrid rolling into showrooms in the last quarter.
 
The Prius and hybrid Corolla share the same powertrain that combines a 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with two motor/generators, driving the front wheels via a planetary gear continuously variable transmission (CVT).
 
The Prius AWD-e shown overnight at the LA show adds an extra electric motor on the rear axle for greater traction on slippery surfaces such as icy roads.
 
On take-off, the rear motor kicks in automatically until the vehicle reaches 10km/h, and then reverts to an on-demand system, only kicking in when front-wheel traction is lost at up to 70km/h.
 
For the most part, it leaves the driving to the front wheels for greater efficiency.
 
Because the rear motor is connected to the front powertrain only by electric cables, no driveshaft is required to create all-wheel drive.
 
In a Toyota first, the rear motor does not have magnets. 
 
The extra motor at the back appears to knock fuel economy a little, with the Prius AWD-e reputedly using 4.7 litres per 100km, compared with the standard Prius’ 4.5l/100km.
 
In Australia where the fourth-generation Prius was launched in 2016, its fuel economy is rated at 3.4l/100km on the Australian combined test cycle.
 
On this market, Prius is one of Toyota’s slowest-selling cars, shifting just 201 units in the year to date, a decline of 16.9 per cent over the same period of 2017.

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