Prius Electric All Wheel Drive system (AWD-e)

Purchase Considerations...     May 22, 2019

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In a New England Nor'Easter one can truly appreciate the absence of good snow tires. This was the situation I found myself in a few years back. My predicament was compounded by the low rolling resistance tires on my Prius.

Low rolling resistance tires are great for 50+ mpg with a Prius (better mpg than my motorcycle). One can even attain greater efficiencies with energy efficient driving techniques. However, in a snow storm low rolling resistance tires are as useful as bald tires. I immediately traded my Prius for a wonderful standard shift Tacoma truck, and resumed my seasonally limited long distance northern travel with my beloved motorcycle tenting.

2019 Prius AWD-e considerations

When in 2019 Toyota for the first time offered a Prius with all wheel drive (outside of Japan), my first consideration was snow. After all, a Prius with good snow tires would probably work without the AWD-e price premium. However this would require a tire change for every winter trip. Snow tires are not low rolling resistant. MPG would suffer, and it may not snow.

My second consideration was sleeping in a wonderful 24x7 climate controlled tent. A Prius left running, will maintain cabin temperature while parked. This happens silently from battery power alone. When the battery gets low the gas engine automatically engages, charges up the battery than shuts off. This very efficient process costs little more than a dollar a night, depending on outside temperatures. That cost is far less than camp ground fees or hotels, and can be done in any highway rest area convenient to destination. I will not sacrifice my motorcycle tenting hotel fee savings. I will get much better mpg than on my motorcycle. I can carry a stocked kitchen complete with utensils (Pelican cooler, 123 stove, Bialetti coffee pot, etc, etc). Tent setup simply involves climbing into that classic Prius hatch back storage compartment. With the back seats folded down my 6 foot 2 inch tall frame can lay completely straight on my self inflating Therm-a-Rest Sleeping pad.

Toyota uses a nickle chromium battery in the Prius AWD-e because of better cold weather performance. Toyota's consideration is that the Prius AWD-e will be primarily used in colder climates. This is evidenced by the Prius AWD-e coming standard with heated seats. My consideration was nickel chromium batteries are far less volatile than lithium based batteries, a painful lesson for Tesla and many notebook manufacturers.

Lastly, the new radar and sonar safety driving features included with the new Prius will be very useful on long fatiguing drives.

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