Our 2019 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e Hybrid came in Electric Storm Blue and a noticeable body design tweak from its predecessors. It’s debatable whether it’s an improvement but the new Prius is definitely sitting lower and is wide, with an edgier front and design. It’s rear is bigger, and the split rear window is either a delight or a consternation, depending on whom you ask.
The interior is spiffy, with sharp color displays, and a 11.6-inch touchscreen on some models. The tech is complementary to the power train, which spews up 121 hp via a 1.8-liter inline-4, electric motor and hybrid battery combo. This car is the quintessential urban workhorse, ideal for short commutes and drives to/from work in the city. The all-wheel-drive features two small motors on the rear wheels that help induce better traction but fall short of actually adding power, adding just a notch over 40 mph.
Space inside the cabin is terrific, as four adults can comfortably fit inside the Prius. In the trunk, the 27 cubic feet of cargo room can also carry plenty of luggage on the runs out of town or to the airport. The top trims not only get the larger touchscreen but come with synthetic leather upholstery, 17-inch wheels and blind-spot monitors.
Other features this Prius comes with are a nice touch, and far from an afterthought. The LED lights and 15-inch wheels with plastic covers are noticeable in particular. Inside, cloth upholstery, keyless ignition, adaptive cruise control and a 6.1-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Bluetooth connectivity, automatic emergency braking, and three USB charge ports are there. Much to our chagrin, the Prius doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay.
As mentioned earlier, the total power is 121 hp. It’s derivative from the 1.8-liter inline-4 engine’s 95 hp, with the rest coming from the 53-kw electric motor. The all-wheel-drive versions are new in this model year and feature separate, small rear electric motors that power the wheels. With the net power output unchanging, the AWD gear does add 145-170 pounds to the car’s curb weight.
The Prius’ acceleration is mild, and doesn’t exceed expectations. The all-wheel-drive system is made to present a better grip from the launch, and its rear motors shut off at speeds faster than 43 mph. The Prius can maneuver pretty well through urban traffic, but high-speed maneuvers aren’t going to be as nimble.
It’s abundantly clear that Toyota engineers wanted to emphasize practical over impressive in the 2019 Prius. The frame is stiffer than the previous models and the running gear is borrowed from other Toyota models, including the C-HR. It’s clear that the suspension is attuned for city driving. That said, Toyota’s finessing this segment, as the pioneer in the regenerative and friction braking that it is. The Prius creates a seamless pairing between the two braking systems.
Photo Credit: Toyota