2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e Overview: This Basic Hybrid Is Now A Winter Warrior

2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e Review: This Classic Hybrid Is Now A Winter Warrior

2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e overview: This basic hybrid is a winter warrior

“The 2020 Toyota Prius is a dependable hybrid, however the competitors is catching up.”

  • Nice fuel mileage
  • Sensible packaging
  • Surprisingly enjoyable to drive
  • Effectively-tuned powertrain
  • Unimpressive tech
  • Finicky brake pedal
  • No Android Auto

The Toyota Prius is the Levi’s denims of hybrid automobiles. Since its launch in 1997, the Prius has finished a lot to popularize hybrids, and if typically the default alternative. However the Prius is much from the one hybrid on sale immediately.

The competitors now gives Prius alternate options devoted maximizing fuel mileage. Extra typical automobiles can be found with hybrid powertrains, too, together with standard Toyota fashions just like the RAV4, Corolla, and Camry. So, is the automotive that put hybrids on the map nonetheless your best option?

To seek out out, we spent per week with a 2020 Toyota Prius. Whereas the current-generation Prius has been round for the reason that 2016 mannequin yr, Toyota has made some important adjustments since then, together with upgrades to the infotainment system and the addition of extra driver help options.

2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-eStephen Edelstein/Digital Traits

Our check automotive additionally had the non-obligatory all-wheel drive system (dubbed AWD-e by Toyota), which was added for the 2019 mannequin yr. Whereas a base front-wheel drive Prius L Eco begins at $25,280, our fully-loaded all-wheel drive XLE check automotive had a $31,005 sticker value.


Largely unchanged for the reason that 2016 mannequin yr, the Prius’ exterior styling is, to say the least, uncommon. The scowling face, bulbous profile, and weird taillights could appear like they have been designed accidentally, however they’re really the results of various conflicting priorities.

Second- and third-generation Prius fashions had an egg-like hatchback form that was distinctive, aerodynamic, and good for inside packaging. Nevertheless it was additionally terminally uncool. Toyota tried to jazz issues up a bit for this era. The Prius remains to be a hatchback, nevertheless it seems to be extra like a sedan. In an effort to make the automotive seem sleeker, designers lowered the entrance finish. Unusually-shaped headlights and taillights assist the Prius stand out.

Toyota achieved low aerodynamic drag with out sacrificing inside house.

But the Prius doesn’t look modern or futuristic, and that’s as a result of different elements needed to be thought of. Designers nonetheless wanted to make the Prius as aerodynamic as attainable to maximise gas economic system. In addition they needed to package deal the cumbersome hybrid powertrain, whereas nonetheless offering a good quantity of passenger and cargo room. Magnificence is within the eye of the beholder, however I believe Toyota’s design crew was pulled in too many alternative instructions.

The design does meet its a purposeful objectives, nonetheless. The Prius claims one of many lowest drag coefficients of any manufacturing automotive, at 0.24. Which means it will possibly slip via the air like a fish in water, serving to to enhance fuel mileage.

2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-eStephen Edelstein/Digital Traits

Toyota achieved this with out sacrificing inside house. The Prius has comparable inside house to different devoted hybrids just like the Honda Perception, Hyundai Ioniq, and Kia Niro. The Toyota even gives extra cargo house than the tall-roofed Kia. Behind the wheel, I appreciated the Prius’ low beltline, which permits for taller facet glass. This improves outward visibility and provides the cabin an open, ethereal feeling.


Toyota could also be a pacesetter in hybrid powertrains, however Japan’s largest automaker lags behind in different types of automotive tech.

At first look, the inside seems to be futuristic and completely different. However when you get behind the wheel, all you get is affordable plastic and an underwhelming infotainment system.

As with the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, Toyota positioned the speedometer and hybrid system standing indicator within the heart of the dashboard for no apparent purpose. Beneath these shows sits a 7.0-inch touchscreen that controls most automobile capabilities. The Prime’s 11.6-inch display isn’t accessible on the usual Prius, however that’s okay, as we didn’t see the purpose of the bigger display once we drove the Prime. Toyota can barely make the 7.0-inch display work correctly.

When you get behind the wheel, all you get is affordable plastic and an underwhelming infotainment system.

Whereas many Toyota automobiles get each Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the 2020 mannequin yr, the Prius is barely accessible with CarPlay. Android customers are caught with Toyota’s personal person interface, which seems to be dated and is gradual to reply. The setup is extra sophisticated than the pared-down interfaces within the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro, and clunkier than the extra elaborate interface within the Honda Perception. The display washes out in daylight.

Our check automotive had a head-up show (a part of an $800 know-how package deal). The show solely reveals present pace, nevertheless it was simple to learn with out being distracting.

Fuel milage

The infotainment system could also be a flop, however Toyota succeeded the place it counts: beneath the hood. Along with attaining good fuel mileage, the Prius gives a cushty driving expertise that received’t spook first time hybrid drivers. The provision of all-wheel drive is a significant bonus for automotive consumers in snowy areas.

The Prius makes use of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine linked to Toyota’s acquainted Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Usually, an electrical motor helps the gasoline engine drive the entrance wheels, however all-wheel drive fashions add a second motor on the again. It sends energy to the rear wheels with none bodily connection to the entrance wheels.

Toyota has used an identical setup in its hybrid crossovers for years. Within the Prius, all-wheel drive solely kicks in when onboard computer systems decide that further traction is required, and solely as much as 43 mph. We didn’t discover a lot of a distinction from earlier experiences with front-wheel drive Priuses (Prii?), which isn’t stunning given how not often all-wheel drive is engaged in regular driving.

The Prius gives a normal-feeling driving expertise that received’t spook first time hybrid drivers.

With our with out all-wheel drive, the Prius is rated at 121 horsepower (Toyota doesn’t checklist a torque determine). Whereas hybrid consumers most likely aren’t searching for horsepower bragging rights, it’s value noting that the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro each sport 139 hp, whereas the Honda Perception boasts 151 hp. Acceleration felt enough, and we have been impressed by the seamless transition between gasoline and electrical energy.

2020 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e badgeStephen Edelstein/Digital Traits

The Prius relies on the identical Toyota New World Structure (TNGA) platform as quite a few different Toyota fashions, together with the Camry and Corolla. TNGA actually pays dividends for the Prius, giving it a sense of solidity not usually seen in mass market hybrids.

Toyota additionally nailed the suspension tuning. This automotive feels genuinely nimble and enjoyable, though numb steering and low rolling-resistance tires preserve it from being really sporty. Experience high quality is nice, though the suspension can ship disconcerting jolts via the cabin over damaged pavement. The brake pedal was additionally arduous to modulate, with the brakes solely biting after the pedal was about three quarters of the best way to flooring.

Fuel mileage champ

The primary purpose to purchase a hybrid is gas economic system, and on this space the Prius lives as much as the hype. Most front-wheel drive Prius fashions are rated at 52 mpg mixed (54 mpg metropolis, 50 mpg freeway), however the L Eco mannequin manages 56 mpg mixed (58 mpg metropolis, 53 mpg freeway). These are spectacular numbers. Nonetheless, the competitors is catching up.

The Hyundai Ioniq is rated at 58 mpg mixed (57 mpg metropolis, 59 mpg freeway) in efficiency-focused Blue type, and 55 mpg mixed (55 mpg metropolis, 54 mpg freeway) in different guises. The Honda Perception additionally comes near the Prius, at 52 mpg mixed (55 mpg metropolis, 49 mpg freeway). Even Toyota’s personal Corolla Hybrid is rated at 52 mpg mixed (53 mpg metropolis, 52 mpg freeway).

All-wheel drive comes with a fuel mileage penalty. Our check automotive was rated at 50 mpg mixed (52 mpg metropolis, 48 mpg freeway). We averaged 44.5 mpg (in line with the automotive’s journey laptop) over principally freeway driving. All-wheel drive often decreases gas effectivity, as the additional {hardware} provides weight, and power is required to drive each units of wheels.

Nonetheless, that is presently the very best case situation for snowbound gas misers. The Prius is the one hybrid automotive in its value vary with all-wheel drive. The one different is to get an even bigger, much less aerodynamic Toyota RAV4 or Ford Escape – with a lot decrease fuel mileage.


The 2020 Prius comes normal with Toyota Security Sense P (TSS-P), a bundle of driver aids that features autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise management.

We discovered the lane departure warning system to be a bit too delicate. It beeped every time we even got here near lane markings, like a nervous backseat driver. Conversely, the excessive beams have been gradual to return again on after being dipped for oncoming automobiles.

Adaptive cruise management labored nicely, however as a result of Toyota used the management stalk from a extra fundamental cruise management system, setting it was unnecessarily troublesome. The Honda Perception gives an identical degree of ordinary driver help tech, and Toyota doesn’t have an equal of Honda’s intelligent LaneWatch digicam system.

The Prius is an Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security (IIHS) High Security Choose. It missed out on the best High Security Choose+ plus score as a consequence of “common” scores for its headlights and the passenger-side small overlap entrance crash check, however obtained the very best rating in all different classes. The Prius additionally obtained a five-star general score from the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration (NHTSA).

2020 Toyota Prius AWD-e digital displayStephen Edelstein/Digital Traits

Toyota gives a three-year, 36,000-mile, fundamental guarantee and a five-year, 60,000-mile, powertrain guarantee. The battery pack and hybrid system elements are coated beneath their very own eight-year, 100,000-mile, guarantee.

Hyundai and Kia provide longer fundamental and powertrain guarantee phrases, however can’t beat Toyota’s battery guarantee. Each the Prius and Toyota on the whole have good reputations for reliability. Priuses have survived a whole lot of hundreds of miles of grueling taxi service in cities around the globe, so this hybrid looks like a reasonably good guess in relation to long run reliability.

How DT would configure this automotive

My check automotive was a fully-loaded XLE mannequin, but when I used to be spending my very own cash, I might go along with the bottom L Eco trim degree. This model will get the very best fuel mileage of any Prius trim degree, and nonetheless will get normal Apple CarPlay and the TSS-P bundle of driver aids. The XLE will get leather-based seats and is out there with a head-up show, however I wasn’t  impressed sufficient by the execution of those niceties to pay further for them.

The L Eco just isn’t accessible with all-wheel drive, however the significance of that characteristic actually depends upon the place you reside. If brutal winters are the norm, then all-wheel drive is a should. Should you reside someplace with delicate winters, it’s higher to go along with the extra gas environment friendly front-wheel drive L Eco.

A sensible choice, however not the very best

The 2020 Toyota Prius is an effective automotive. It’s comfy, sensible, and delivers on its promise of wonderful fuel mileage. Nevertheless it’s not the default alternative.

With so many different hybrids in the marketplace, there isn’t any want to simply accept the compromises of the Prius. The Honda Perception, Hyundai Ioniq, and Kia Niro are all higher to drive, and aren’t bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid delivers almost the identical fuel mileage because the Prius, however in a extra typical package deal.

Must you get one?

No – not less than, it’s not our first and even second suggestion. The Prius is a trusty and dependable decide that’s certain to be dependable, however attempt the alternate options first.

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