Is Toyota Teasing AWD Prius To Debut At L.A. Auto Show?

Live in an area with bad weather but still want a Prius, Toyota might have a solution to this dilemma on the way.

Toyota has released an odd teaser for the 2019 Prius at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. It shows the model kicking up a rooster tail of snow, and a single, poetic sentence accompanies the image: “Fall is here, winter’s near, but the 2019 Prius performs on roads whether snowy or clear.” The hybrid four-door isn’t a top choice for most buyers who put a priority on all-weather capability, though. This makes us wonder whether Toyota might be preparing an all-wheel-drive version that would be more capable of dealing with snow drifts and slick roads.

The teaser photo doesn’t provide much evidence of what Toyota is planning. The most obvious tweak over a standard Prius is the roof-mounted cargo carrier. This piece is a $299 accessory that Toyota offers from the factory, but it usually has polished metal crossbars, but they are body color in this image.

The ride height of the Prius in this picture might also be a little higher than stock. Due to the angle of the photo, it’s hard to tell for sure.

Since both the Prius and RAV4 ride on versions of the TGNA platform, it’s possible that Toyota’s engineers managed to adapt the RAV4 Hybrid’s all-wheel-drive layout to the Prius. The setup uses an electric motor to power the rear wheels so that both axles can propel the vehicle, when necessary.

A less expensive engineering option is to leave the Prius’ powertrain alone but make other modifications for better handling in poor conditions. The higher ride height would offer some help. Replacing the usual low-rolling-resistance tires with more capable rubber for dealing with snow and ice would be an improvement, too. Rubber floor mats would protect the cabin from occupants tracking mud inside the vehicle.

We won’t know for sure what Toyota will do to the Prius until the LA show at the end of the month, but will have a crew there covering the show.

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