Next-generation Prius to get all-wheel drive
Making the popular hybrid ready for winter driving is one of several changes on the slate.
Everyone knows that you don’t mess with success, especially when you have an über-popular vehicle like the Toyota Prius. But if you live an area affected by snow, ice or some wintry mix of elements that can cause front-wheel-drive cars to slip and slide, it may make you pass on the Prius for an all-wheel-drive hybrid such as the Toyota Highlander, Lexus RX 450H or Porsche Cayenne, and trade better fuel economy for the traction that these larger -- and pricier -- AWD hybrids provide.
But if rumors about the next-generation Prius are to be believed, Toyota plans to fill that need for drivers in Northern climes by adding an electric motor to drive the car's rear wheels as part of an AWD system, according to the U.K. website Auto Express. A reporter for the site recently quoted a Toyota engineer as saying that the automaker would be "targeting snowy areas" with the new electric AWD system and that the rear wheels will be driven at speeds "up to 37 mph."
In addition to Toyota's plan to make the Prius ready for winter driving, Auto Express revealed other details on the development of the next version of the Toyota’s massively popular hybrid. According to the Toyota engineer with whom Auto Express spoke, "The next Prius will redefine the hybrid as we know it."
One of the biggest changes, given the car’s iconic profile, is that Toyota plans a new design philosophy for the new Prius. The car’s familiar wedge shape reportedly will be replaced with a sleeker design, with the A-pillar pulled rearward. But the new skin is not expected to affect the car's aerodynamics or interior space.
The next-gen Prius will also shed 153 pounds. The car's electric motor and power inverter are expected to shrink, and the current 1.8-liter engine will be altered to deliver more power, according to Auto Express. And on top of all this, the new Prius will be even more fuel-efficient; the source at Toyota says it will achieve approximately 75 mpg.
There’s no denying the dominance of the Prius in the hybrid segment, and given Toyota’s conservative corporate culture it’s surprising that the company would want to make major changes to the Prius franchise. But with new hybrid competitors coming into the market, it’s also a good time for the Toyota to push the Prius forward to stay out front.
" it may make you pass on the Prius for an all-wheel-drive hybrid such as the , or ,"
Come on Doug, cross shop a Porsche Cayenne and an AWD Prius? Seriously? I'm sure there are tons of Cayenne drivers out there that went "What I really wanted was a Prius that could get around in the snow, but I ended up with this Porsche at 3 times the cost. Oh well..." Even cross shopping the Lexus is a stretch.
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