The facelifted (US-spec) Toyota Prius hybrid has been revealed at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, gaining not just subtle styling updates but also the option of all-wheel drive.

The model for the North American market can now be specified with an electric all-wheel-drive system Toyota has dubbed "AWD-e". The brand says the new arrangement has been “designed to provide more confidence and control when weather and road conditions are less than ideal”.

In addition, the updated Prius gains new front and rear exterior styling, along with various “interior updates”.

According to Toyota, the new Prius AWD-e will deliver “added traction” while still being “one of the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive-equipped passenger cars available” in the United States. In fact, the firm claims a fuel economy figure of 4,7 L/100 km.

Interestingly, Toyota says the automatic on-demand system does not require a centre differential or other torque-apportioning device, nor does it need a front-to-rear driveshaft. Instead, the Prius AWD-e uses an independent electric, magnet-less rear motor to power the rear wheels from zero to 11 km/h, then “when needed”, up to 70 km/h.

Furthermore, the AWD-e models employ a newly developed compact nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery that Toyota claims has been designed to provide “excellent performance” in cold weather.

The Toyota Prius AWD-e shares its powerplant set-up with other Prius models, combining the output of a 1,8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and two motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission.

The updated Prius gains new headlamps (with bi-beam LEDs), while the peak point of the bumper has been raised. Round back, you'll find new taillamps and a fresh inverted trapezoid shape integrated in the tailgate around the numberplate.

Toyota South Africa Motors says the updated Prius will make its local appearance in the first quarter of 2019, with "local specification and AWD-e availability to be confirmed closer to the launch".
Toyota Prius