New 2019 Toyota Prius facelift arrives with all-wheel-drive version

The updated Toyota Prius has been revealed in LA with a new look and a new powertrain for Europe

The Toyota Prius has been facelifted, and now comes with the option of an all-wheel-drive drivetrain for the first time outside its home Japanese market.

Revealed on the eve of the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show, the refreshed Prius for 2019 arrives with a new look on top of the new drivetrain tech. New part LED headlights appear at the front, and are slimmer and brighter than before. Toyota has also equipped a new front bumper, which it says is cleaner in appearance.

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More changes are found around the back. The taillights have been completely updated with a new horizontal design, while there’s a new tailgate too. Elsewhere, two new body colours have been added to the car’s palette, and new alloy wheel designs are also part of the facelift.

Things change much less dramatically inside. Toyota has altered the layout of some of the switchgear, meaning the wireless charging pad for smartphones has been enlarged and navigation has been updated to feature turn-by-turn instructions on the head-up display. The brand also claims that the Touch 2 infotainment unit is now more responsive to the touch and can be operated using flick smartphone style gestures. 

Coming to Europe is a new Hybrid AWD-i version of the Prius. Toyota has detailed how the system works, but has yet to deliver any definitive specifications – we’ll probably have to wait for the updated car’s European debut in January for the full facts and figures. A compact electric motor can provide extra drive directly to the rear axle when required. It’s not linked to the engine at all, with no centre differential or front-to-rear driveshaft found under the car’s skin. 

The motor kicks in to aid with pulling away, engaging at speeds up to 7mph. However, it’s also there to engage when the car’s traction control system detects slippage in poor conditions, such as on wet or snowy surfaces. In this scenario, the rear motor will operate at speeds up to 44mph. Toyota claims that the motor is small and lightweight, and while it does cut into the car’s practicality a little, the firm promises that intrusion into the boot is “minimal”. 

The regular front-wheel-drive car receives a small update too, with a new lithium-ion battery now equipped. More details should emerge when the car arrives in Europe on January 18 next year, at the Brussels Motor Show.

Click here for all the latest from the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show…

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