No AWD For US-Market 2016 Toyota Prius

After 15 years on the U.S. market as a front-wheel-drive only vehicle, the 2016 Toyota Prius will remain such, and despite rumors to the contrary, will not receive all wheel drive.

According to a brief e-mail by Toyota media rep Sam Butto today, there will be “no AWD in the U.S. market for the 2016 Prius.”

Other markets following a news release last night are reporting a new E-Four all-wheel-drive system available, presumably on certain trim levels, of the fourth-generation hybrid.

The system uses an electric rear motor to effectively create all-wheel traction, useful especially in snow, and slippery conditions.

Toyota’s electric AWD approach is seen in the U.S. in the Lexus RX 450 h hybrid crossover and Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The novel setup enables traction-sensitive AWD that senses front tire slippage and works automatically. It is mechanically independent from the front Hybrid Synergy Drive system with no drive-shaft or coupling between front and rear, and is computer linked to work in harmony up to certain road speeds.

The effect is all wheel drive as needed. It’s an intelligent system, and we have reported it for the new Prius as rumored, not confirmed, but can now report it is not coming to the U.S.

We have had inquiries in to Toyota, and await further replies as we are undoubtedly not the only ones asking questions after a news dump by the automaker last night.

Toyota’s media policy for the 2016 Prius has been to release info in limited allotments. The first wave was the Las Vegas reveal in early September. Last night was a release of specifications.

The 2016 Prius promises 55 mpg, assuming EPA certification, also not yet confirmed. It is America’s best-selling alternative energy car, and sells up to mainstream levels of 120,00-145,000 units per year.

Globally, it has launched Toyota’s hybrid market dominance, and its Toyota and Lexus brands have accounted for more than 8 million cumulative global sales since 1997.

When we learn more on the new Prius, we will pass that along.