e-Four – 2016 Toyota Prius Has AWD System is only for Japan – Video
It’s a little-known fact that most of the cars we buy from Japanese manufacturers come with AWD in their domestic market. We’re not talking about crossovers here, but small cars like the Mazda2 or Toyota Yaris. Even the tiny kei cars, which are smaller than a Fiat 500, have this option because winters in Japan can be especially harsh.
For the past generations, the Toyota Prius has ignored this domestic trend because the automaker didn’t see the need for a hybrid to have all-weather capabilities. However, the success of the Honda Vezel Hybrid (sold as HR-V in Europe and America) has spurred them to change.
The 2016 Prius is all-new from the ground up and built on TNGA or Toyota New Global Architecture. Because the same platform will also be used for the Japanese Camry and other models, all-wheel drive capabilities were necessary.
The all-wheel drive is an optional extra, although pricing information is not available. There’s no drive shaft from the front to the back. Instead, a second electric motor is installed inside the back axle. It provides extra traction to help the Prius cope with low traction conditions at slow speeds, such as leaving a snow-covered driveway in the morning.
From the look of things, the suspension system is completely different when you opt for the “e-Four,” as many components bolt directly to the motor to save weight. According to Impress Japan, the boot is also 5mm higher than on the normal model, but it’s still larger than on the previous generation Prius.
The 2016 Prius and RX 450h both have a THS II hybrid drive, so in a way, this AWD system is derived from the Lexus crossover. However, the battery pack of the Prius appears to be much smaller.
While some say the car looks a little weird, there’s no denying the technology package is advanced. The new Prius retains the established 1.8-liter VVT-i gasoline engine. However, it has been completely re-engineered, with good improvements in performance, fuel economy, and reductions to size and weight. The powertrain achieves a maximum thermal efficiency of 40 percent, compared to 38.5% with the old model. Notably, there is a 20 percent reduction in mechanical losses through friction compared to the previous model.