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Closer look at Toyota’s range-topping Prius 5-door with AWD

A long-running hybrid hatchback, can the Prius XLE trim compete with newcomers like the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, Kia’s Niro wagon, and Honda Insight sedan?

Toyota added an electric AWD (or AWD-e) option to the fourth-generation Prius in 2019, marking the first time the well-known gas-electric hybrid could be had with four driven wheels.

It also made the Prius the first AWD Toyota hybrid that wasn’t a crossover utility vehicle. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the Prius AWD-e in the XLE trim offered in the United States and the Technology model that is the closest equivalent in Canada.

What kind of car is the Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e?

The Prius AWD-e is classified as a mid-size car, but it’s sized in between a compact and a mid-range family sedan. It has a liftback tailgate to access the trunk and offers seating for five people.

2020 Toyota Prius xle awd hatchback rear trunk space
2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e hatchback rear trunk space. Photo: Toyota

Under the Prius AWD-e’s hood is a 1.8L gasoline four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which work with the motor mounted at the rear wheels to make a total of 120 hp.

How does AWD-e work?

Most all-wheel drive vehicles have a mechanical drive shaft that connects the engine and transmission to the front and rear axles. The Prius AWD-e system is different: it uses electricity alone to power the rear wheels, while the front wheels are driven by a combination of gas and electricity.

That rear motor primarily works to improve traction when accelerating from a stop, and any other time it’s needed, at speeds below 70 km/h. Otherwise, it disengages so that the car runs in front-wheel mode.

Fuel economy: what’s the Toyota Prius AWD-e’s MPG?

Toyota’s estimates for the Prius AWD-e’s fuel consumption are 4.5/4.9 L/100 km (city/highway) in Canada and 52/48 MPG (city/highway) in the US.

Can I plug the Prius in to charge?

The Prius AWD-e is not a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), so it can’t be plugged in. The only way to charge the battery is through efficient driving, which charges it automatically to help power the car.

Main features: Toyota Prius AWD-e XLE in the US

American buyers who choose the 2020 Toyota Prius AWD-e XLE get a car whose cabin is fitted with wireless smartphone charging, a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, artificial leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel finished in artificial leather, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio.

2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e hatchback interior
2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e hatchback interior. Photo: Toyota

Outside, the Prius AWD-e XLE comes with rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, passive keyless entry, power door locks, clearance sonar, intelligent parking assist, and 15-inch alloy wheels.

The Toyota Safety Sense system is also included in the Prius AWD-e XLE, comprising automatic high beams, radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and lane departure alert with steering assist. The US XLE model also comes with blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.

American buyers can add the advanced technology package of a head-up display and auto-leveling adaptive headlights.

Main features: Toyota Prius AWD-e Technology in Canada?

In Canada, the 2020 Toyota Prius AWD-e Technology model’s cabin is equipped with wireless smartphone charging, navigation, an 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen, artificial leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel finished in artificial leather, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Apple CarPlay, and a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio.

Outside, the Prius AWD-e Technology comes with rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, passive keyless entry, power door locks, and 15-inch alloy wheels.

The Toyota Safety Sense system is included in the Prius AWD-e Technology, comprising automatic high beams, radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and lane departure alert with steering assist. Additionally, the Prius AWD-e comes with blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.

2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e hatchback top view
2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e hatchback. Photo: Toyota

An optional advanced technology package adds a garage door opener, auto-leveling headlights, a head-up driver display, parking sensors, intelligent parking assist, and adaptive front lighting.

Price: how much is the 2020 Prius XLE AWD-e?

In the United States, the Prius AWD-e XLE costs $29,375, compared to $26,935 for the base AWD-e model, and $24,325 for the entry-level Prius without AWD-e.

In Canada, the Toyota Prius AWD-e Technology carries an MSRP of $32,990, which is $5,000 more than the base model, and $4,000 more than the standard AWD-e model.

Competitors: who is Toyota’s hybrid XLE hatch competing with?

The Toyota Prius’s direct competitors are the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, Kia’s Niro wagon, and the Honda Insight sedan. All are gas-electric hybrids like the Prius, but none of them offer AWD.

2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD Hatchback Photos:

Chris Chasehttps://chrischasescars.com/
Chris has been writing professionally about cars since 2004, in print and online. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two feline tyrants. In rare quiet moments, he can be found travelling or playing one of his way-too-many guitars. Chris is also a journalist member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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