2020 Prius XLE AWD-e in Electric Storm Blue

The Toyota Prius hybrid has been with us now more than 20 years.  In its fourth-generation – with more features and new platform – the 2020 Prius continues to be a stand-out among hybrid vehicles. 

A week or so back, Toyota sent us a new Synergy Drive Hybrid AWD-e (‘e’ is for electronic) Prius to drive test for a week in Central Texas.  New in 2019 – the AWD-e adds horsepower and torque to initial acceleration – getting you away from stop lights much quicker.  Electronically managed above 7-mph, the AWD drive motor adds control, stability and performance to the drive characteristics of Prius.

With a hybrid battery warranty now extended to 150,000 miles and fuel economy up to 58 mpg (L-ECO model), the well-priced 2020 Prius continues to be a hybrid leader.

For 2020, their theme is  a Prius enables you to go more places and do more things.  We heartily concur.

As Tested

Our 2020 Prius XLE AWD-e came in their bold Electric Storm Blue exterior with Black/White interior.  The MSRP for XLE AWD-e is $29,250.

Our test vehicle added their $800 Advanced Technology Package and the Removable Cross Bars plus a short list of other items and freight, bringing the delivered price to $32,890.

PowerTrain

The 2020 Prius AWD-e Synergy Drive System has three drive components.  The basic hybrid unit is a 1.8L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine integrated with a 53kW AC Electric Motor Generator driving the front-wheels.  Combined horsepower is 121 with 105 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Prius AWD-e drive unit is a rear axle mounted, seven-horsepower electronically controlled motor generator that is active in the drive system up to 6 mph when starting.  It then operates on demand -when traction is needed – up to a speed of 43 mph when Prius reverts to FWD for fuel efficiency.

An Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) connects the drive units.

Drive Modes available include EV for short run electric power only and ECO to direct the power controller to balance drive power in favor of the battery for improved mileage.

A Nickle-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) 600-volt 6.5 ampere hour battery back provides the electric drive power.  

Of note: if you are driving Prius AWD-e in the colder climates, the Ni-MH battery delivers better performance in cold weather environments – when compared to the standard Lithium-Ion in non-AWD Prius models.

Prius AWD-e is fuel economy rated at 52/48/50 mpg city/highway/combined.

Mechanical

Prius rides smoothly on the new Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. 

It features independent MacPherson strut front and Multi-link rear suspension. Steering is electric power assisted. Hydraulic braking uses ventilated discs front and solid discs rear with Regenerative Braking.  Rolling stock is 15-inch with 5-spoke alloy Wheels.

Through the use of hot-stamped and high tensile steels, aluminum components and advanced adhesive fasteners, the Prius AWD-e weighs in at just 3,220 pounds. 

Infotainment/Technology/Driver Convenience

The 2020 Prius XLE AWD-e is well loaded with infotainment, technology and driver convenience features.

Infotainment highlights include 7-inch Touchscreen / 6-speaker audio system w/AM-FM, Scout GPS Link, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility. 

Additional infotainment features include Bluetooth hands-free phone, music streaming and advanced voice recognition along with a USB media port, two USB charging ports and a 12-volt auxiliary Power Outlet.

Some key technology and driver convenience features include Wi-Fi Connect powered by Verizon and Qi Smartphone charging.

Other elements include  Full-speed Adaptive Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beam headlight control, Three-door Smart Key system w/Push Button Start and 4.2-inch Color Dual Multi-Information Display (MID) with customizable screen.  Particularly helpful are the  Color Head-Up Display w/speedometer, navigation and Hybrid System Indicator and  Intelligent Clearance Sonar w/Intelligent Parking Assist.

Exterior

We won’t speak to the styling of Prius. We all know a Prius when we see it.  Suffice it to say it is distinctive and easily recognized as representing their most economical hybrid vehicle. 

Some elements of note on our XLE AWD-e included the Adaptive Front Lighting w/auto-leveling Bi-LED Projector Headlights. 

Driving at night in the Hill Country of Central Texas, can be darker than dark on some country roads.  Adaptive Front Lighting enhances the visibility and safety in night driving.

Noted also are the LED Daytime Running Lights, Integrated Fog Lights w/LED Accent Lights, LED Tail and Stop Lights, LED Marker Lamps along with Heated Power Folding Side Mirrors, Rain-Sensing Variable Intermittent Windshield Wipers and rear lift back wiper properly sized for the glass.  

Interior

Prius AWD-e features a generously styled cabin with ample space for two in front and two in back.  Seating is exceptionally comfortable.  Though the ride height is just 5.3-inches, we found getting in and out of Prius to be easy. Control elements were clearly marked and readily accessible.

We did note that the severe recess of the center stack display elements on the top of the dash made them a bit difficult to read in the bright glare of midday sun in Texas.

Though rated for five passengers; we would recommend full-size adults in the rear be limited to two.  Cargo space behind the rear seats is good (24.6 cubic feet) but gets even better (+ 60 cubic feet) with rears seats folded down.  The high lift hatch makes cargo access very easy.

Of Note: the rear lift hatch has a split (upper/lower) glass panel that gives good visibility to the rear. Though some struggle with the dual glass view, we found it very helpful and easy to focus on the upper panel for normal drive view to the rear.

Cabin elements include Smart-flow Climate Control w/filtration, SoftTex-Trimmed Heated Front Seats, Semi-gloss Black Center Console with Armrest and Storage, 60/40 Split Fold-down Rear Seats w/Center Armrest, SoftTex-trimmed tilt and telescoping heated steering wheel w/audio and information controls, soft-touch upper door trim w/chrome accents, SoftTex trimmed door armrests w/chrome door handles, and Remote Illuminated Entry.

Of Note: The Smart-flow climate control directs AC to occupied seats only to conserve energy when driving.

Safety

Safety is a priority at Toyota.  Prius comes with their latest iteration of Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) Pre-collision system w/Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist and Automatic High Beam Headlights.

Prius also includes the basic Toyota STAR Safety System featuring Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution w/Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology.

Other elements include Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Vehicle Proximity Notification System, Integrated Back-up Camera Display and Blind Spot Monitoring w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Warranty

The 2020 Prius warranty coverage includes: 36-month / 36,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty, 60-month General Powertrain Warranty and the all-important – enhanced – 10-year/150,000-mile Hybrid  Battery  Warranty.

For added peace of mind, Toyota Complimentary Roadside Service is extended to 3-years with unlimited mileage.  In addition, Prius comes with ToyotaCare covering factory scheduled service for 2-years or 25,000 miles.

2020 Prius Lineup

Prius for 2020 offers a total of seven models.  The most fuel efficient is the L ECO FWD Liftback (MSRP $24,325) rated at 58/53/56 mpg city/highway/combined. Other FWD models include LE (MSRP $25,535), XLE (MSRP $28,375) and Limited (MSRP $32,500).

The AWD-e Prius is available in the LE trim (MSRP 26,935) and XLE (MSRP $29,375). 

Read more about the 2020 Prius lineup here.

KEY DATA:   2020 Toyota Prius 

  • Model:                              Prius AWD-e
  • Trim                                  XLE
  • Class:                                Small Four-Door Hatchback
  • Seating:                             Five
  • MSRP:                                $29,250
  • As Tested:                         $32,890
  • Engine:                              1.8L Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder/Synergy Drive Hybrid
  • Horsepower:                     121 – Combined Gas/AC Motor Generator
  • Torque:                             106 lb.-ft. @3,600 rpm
  • Transmission:                   ECVT (Electronically Controlled Variable Transmission)
  • Drive System:                    AWD-e
  • Wheel size                        15-inch (P195/65R15)
  • Fuel Economy                   52/48/50 mpg    city/highway/combined
  • Fuel Tank                           10.6 gallons
  • Range                                Over 500 miles Combined