Thrifty Toyota Prius additionally conquers snow | Enterprise

Now at mid-winter within the Merrimack Valley, when discuss turns to autos with the added traction of all-wheel drive, we will count on to debate apparent snow-fighters with huge nubbly tires, elevated street clearance and high-riding cabins behind assertively vertical, plow-ahead entrance bumpers and grilles. You know, your common sport-utility automobile – whether or not it’s a standard SUV constructed on a pickup-truck body, or a extra mild-mannered crossover SUV constructed like a passenger automobile.

But the Toyota Prius? A snow-fighter?

Talk about delicate mannered. The Prius is a low-riding lift-back sedan. Its principal goal is to move individuals successfully whereas consuming as little gasoline as doable.

To meet its low-fuel-use mission, the Prius makes use of a hybrid-drive propulsion system that mixes electrical energy with gasoline energy, letting its fuel engine and electrical motor share motive duties. Rather than nubbly, max-grip treads, the Prius is extra more likely to put on easy-glide, low-rolling-resistance tires. It even has computerized louvers that near restrict the air flowing via its grille, when acceptable. That reduces wind drag, which aids gasoline effectivity. The Toyota Prius wrings about 50 miles of journey out of each gallon of gasoline.

But a 2020 Prius I drove throughout a three-day ski weekend additionally dealt with icy, snowy, mountainous situations with as a lot command and management because the scenario required – which was an excellent quantity.

More than that, when evaluating the Prius I acknowledged how the mannequin has developed from a novel high-mileage specialty automobile to an on a regular basis car that gives a number of benefits to drivers who admire a flexible automobile.

“The Prius has matured,” concurred Ryan Horgan, vp of Rockingham Motors in Salem, New Hampshire. The firm operates the dealerships Rockingham Honda and Rockingham Toyota, situated adjacently in Salem.

“It’s been with Toyota for 20 years. In the beginning it was a niche car that people sought out if they were environmentally conscious,” Horgan stated. “Now it has blended in with the rest of Toyota’s lineup.”

I see the Toyota Prius serving as a low-cost but distinctive, dependable and extremely purposeful transporter for empty nesters, school college students, singles and younger {couples}. It travels nicely, offering consolation, considerable cargo capability, and simple maneuverability. It adapts to numerous calls for, from maximizing house for cumbersome baggage, to creating ample room for a few additional riders within the again seat. And irrespective of how far the tour or what kind of load it carries, the Prius will get there with gasoline to spare.

The Prius model that additionally gave me winter safety did so with all-wheel drive.

Ordinarily the Prius is a front-wheel-drive passenger service. But since final yr Toyota additionally has provided the all-wheel-drive variation. For an extra $1,400 above the value of a comparable front-drive Prius, Toyota provides a second electrical motor to show the rear wheels. A computerized management system prompts the rear-wheel energy mechanism when it senses that additional traction is required, and solely at speeds under about 40 miles per hour. Otherwise, the all-wheel-drive Prius AWD-e operates the identical as a high-mileage front-drive model, with its fuel engine and first electrical motor sharing the duty of turning the entrance wheels alone.

That association means the Prius AWD-e mannequin sacrifices solely a small quantity of fuel mileage to achieve four-wheel traction when it’s most wanted: when ranging from a cease in snow, and when trudging via it on the reasonable speeds that snowy roads scale back us to. The mixed, metropolis/freeway fuel-economy score for the Prius AWD-e is 50 miles per gallon. That’s simply 4 % decrease than the 52 mpg score of a front-drive Prius. The all-wheel-drive hybrid begins a listing value of $27,890. It rises as excessive as $30,330 for a top-end model loaded with options.

“For us, all-wheel drive is a huge plus,” stated Horgan of Rockingham Toyota. In the Merrimack Valley, “it makes the Prius more capable than it’s ever been. Prius buyers get the benefit of all-wheel drive so they don’t have to worry about the weather.”

In real-world driving throughout my three-day winter getaway, the 2020 Prius AWD-e achieved higher gasoline economic system than its official score. I common 53 mpg over 450 miles of blended driving.

Some of these miles concerned snow-slogging.

One night I parked the Prius past the sting of an inn’s driveway, bumping it over a plow ridge on the driveway’s margin and leaving it on crusted snow. That night time a storm dropped about six inches of moist, heavy snow. Worse, by the point I set off the subsequent morning, the brand new snow had been plowed from the driveway. The ridge between my parked Prius and the drive now was extra formidable than it had been the night time earlier than. But the all-wheel-drive hybrid automobile stepped over it easily, with out a grumble or stumble.

By the time I used to be underway, roads had been plowed and handled. But some gentle snow nonetheless fell. And slush swimming pools and ice patches are at all times a fear. The Prius AWD-e cruised easily and competently.

But the Prius did greater than gracefully sort out the winter situations that almost all of us restrict our driving to. It additionally served as a snug, useful and adaptable journey companion. Two of us made the 200-mile drive to our weekend vacation spot. The automobile’s cut up again seat was folded flat, creating considerable cargo house beneath the Prius’ again hatch. It simply dealt with just a few journey baggage, two cumbersome sleeping baggage in sacks, two units of snow sneakers and poles, an enormous meals cooler, and baggage of different provides.

For the 200-mile return journey, we added a member of the family as a passenger – the type of reshuffling that generally happens throughout group getaways. Our new rider had ample room on the shorter portion of the cut up again seat, whereas the reconfigured cargo flooring nonetheless simply dealt with all the identical gear and provides we had introduced alongside, plus the 2 journey baggage our new passenger added.

In current years the Prius has dropped in recognition. In giant half that’s as a result of many extra high-mileage hybrid-drive automobiles can be found at the moment. Toyota itself sells some fashionable alternate options, together with hybrid variations of the compact Corolla sedan and the RAV4 sport-utility automobile.

You can get all-wheel drive by buying the RAV4 Hybrid. But it’s priced about $1,500 larger than the Prius AWD-e. And though the RAV4 Hybrid technically gives extra inside quantity, I discover the house contained in the Prius extra usable.

By including four-wheel traction to a snug and spacious inside, giant and versatile cargo flooring, and exemplary gasoline economic system, the Toyota Prius AWD-e turns into a automobile that lots of people can admire, for lots of causes.

Jeffrey Zygmont is an writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books, and a long-time auto author. Contact him at





2020 Toyota Prius AWD-e

Vehicle kind: 4-door, 5-passenger, all-wheel-drive hybrid-powered liftback

Price vary: $27,890 to $30,330 (plus choices)

Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles fundamental guarantee; 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain guarantee; 5 years/limitless miles corrosion guarantee; 2 years/25,000 miles free scheduled upkeep and roadside help

Drive system: 1.8-liter I4 gasoline engine, 71-hp entrance electrical motor; 7-hp rear electrical motor

Net energy: 128 horsepower

Transmission: constantly variable computerized

Fuel economic system: 52 mpg metropolis; 48 mpg freeway

Wheelbase: 106 inches

Length: 180 inches

Width: 69 inches

Height: 58 inches

Weight: 3,210 kilos

Fuel capability: 10.6 gallons

Turning circle: 33.5 toes

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