2021 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e
✔ Drive on all four wheels
✔ Excellent fuel efficiency
✔ More capabilities than the models that came before it.
✔ Extended warranty coverage for hybrid battery packs
❌ The segment’s most compact instrument cluster display
❌ Instrument panel and cruise control are located in an awkward spot.
2021 TOYOTA PRIUS XLE AWD-E SPECS
|Engine||1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with magnetic synchronous motor|
When we last put the Prius AWD-e through its paces in 2019, it was the newest member of Toyota’s successful hybrid lineup. It was also the only vehicle in its class that could keep all four tires planted on snow-covered asphalt thanks to a second motor that drove the rear wheels. Apple CarPlay was finally added to the 2020 model, along with a new 7-inch touch screen that was standard on most trim levels. Additionally, Toyota’s comprehensive Safety Connect suite of driver assistance features was made standard on all trim levels. A redesigned model for 2021 will add Android Auto, a longer warranty, and additional airbags, albeit at the expense of a marginally higher price point.
Features, Prices, and the Overall Design of the 2021 Prius
The 2021 Toyota Prius AWD-e is available in two different trim levels: LE and XLE. Both of these models are powered by a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine that is supplemented by a magnetic synchronous motor for a total output of 121 horsepower. The back wheels are powered by a second magnet-less rear motor that is connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission. This transmission does not have the belt-and-pulley hardware that is typically found in a conventional CVT, which results in a smoother operation.
It was decided that a nickel-metal hydride battery, which comes with a new 10-year warranty, would be more suitable for use in colder climates than a traditional lithium battery. This battery is tucked away under the back seats, which frees up a lot of space through the hatchback for cargo. When driving on icy or snowy surfaces during the winter, the Prius’s rear motor’s nominal power helps it accelerate with a significant 40.6 pound-feet of torque, and the all-wheel drive system engages at speeds of up to 43 miles per hour whenever the vehicle detects wheel slippage.
The base price for the LE AWD-e model is $27,135, and it comes standard with alloy wheels measuring 15 inches in diameter, automatic bi-LED headlights, LED taillights, LED daytime running lights, active grille shutters, and heated and powered outside mirrors. The interior comes standard with a driver seat that can be adjusted in six different ways, a front passenger seat that can be adjusted in four different ways, push-button ignition, power windows and door locks, a matte black center console with an armrest and storage compartment, and a fold-down rear seat that is split 60/40 and has a center armrest.
Bi-LED projector headlights, heated steering wheel and front seats, heated rear seats, soft-touch interior materials, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, a semi-gloss piano black console, rain-sensing windshield wipers, remote start, and a wireless smartphone charging pad are all included in the XLE trim, which has a starting price of $29,575.
The outmoded 6.1-inch touchscreen that was standard on the 2019 Prius was upgraded to a 7-inch display on the 2020 model, and Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility were added as well. The 2021 model comes standard with Google’s Android Auto. AM/FM HD Radio, a free trial of SiriusXM satellite radio for three months, an app-based navigation system called Scout GPS Link, and Toyota Connected Services such as free Safety Connect telematics for three years, free in-cabin Wi-Fi up to 2GB within six months, a USB media port, a pair of USB charging ports, Bluetooth, and voice recognition are all included in the upgraded infotainment system.
The Safety Sense package of driver assistance features offered by Toyota includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, as well as lane departure alert and assistance, which now includes a feature that helps with steering. In addition to that, it features automatic high beams, recognition of road signs, adaptive cruise control, intelligent parking assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, hill start assist control, and a display for the backup camera.
Our current test vehicle, a 2021 XLE AWD-e, comes standard with an Advanced Technology package that costs $800 and includes adaptive and auto-leveling headlights in addition to a heads-up display that shows the speedometer, navigation, and hybrid system indicator. Our previous test vehicle was a 2019 model. The final sticker price came to $31,629 after an additional $993 was added for the destination charge and an additional $259 was added for carpeted floor mats.
The Prius’ aerodynamic but awkward exterior was given a minor makeover for the 2019 model year. This was accomplished by elongating the Prius’ signature wedge-shaped exterior to make it look more like a sedan, while still retaining the model’s popular rear hatchback. Even though the XLE trim’s semi-gloss piano-black console and soft-touch materials dress things up a bit, the interior of the 2021 model’s vehicle is still considered to be utilitarian by the standards of the segment.
The Interface and Connectivity of the Prius
The Prius’s in-cabin connectivity is on par with that of other hybrids that we’ve tested that are comparable, such as the Honda Insight, the Hyundai Ioniq, and the Kia Niro, despite the fact that those vehicles all have larger displays. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, and onboard navigation are all features that are included in the Prius. The user-friendly menus and shortcut buttons that were available on the model from the previous generation have been carried over to the 2021 model.
The unusual placement of the 4.2-inch display that houses the speedometer, various system displays, and customizable hybrid-info screens in the center dashboard above the touch screen is carried over to the 2021 model by Toyota. This placement will remain in place. The fact that Toyota has kept the cruise control awkwardly located on a stalk behind the steering wheel where it is difficult to view while in use is another thing that has disappointed us about the vehicle. However, other driver assistance features can be activated quickly and easily by pressing buttons that are conveniently located on the lower right side of the steering wheel. Additionally, the heads-up display that is included as part of the Advanced Technology package is an excellent feature that we found to be very useful.
A Ride That Is Not Exciting But Saves You Money On Gasoline
The latest generation of the Prius lives up to its reputation as an economical and pleasurable commuter car, despite the fact that its driving dynamics are generally unremarkable. During the course of the testing, it provided a stable and pleasant driving experience, both on highways and on surface streets. The engine grumbled when going up hills, and the acceleration into highway traffic could use a little more power, but other than that, we hardly noticed the switch from gasoline to electric power.
The vehicle is only a fraction of an inch taller than the regular Prius, and the all-wheel-drive system kicks in at speeds of less than 43 miles per hour. This is done primarily to enable the vehicle to handle starts in slick conditions. Because the only connection to the front wheels is an electric one and it engages on its own only when the system determines that it is required, the AWD-e may add an extra layer of protection, but you won’t notice any improvement in performance while you’re behind the wheel.
The Toyota Prius is, to this day, the most economical all-wheel-drive vehicle that money can buy. The EPA estimates that our test vehicle will achieve a combined mileage of 50 miles per gallon (52 mpg in the city, 48 mpg on the highway), but we only managed to achieve an average of 47 mpg.
Snow can understand this.
The Toyota Prius is already an appealing choice for many motorists because it is the only hybrid vehicle on the market that offers all-wheel drive at this price point. Because of the significant enhancements that have been made for the 2021 model, such as the addition of a new 10-year hybrid battery warranty, it is now an option that is more prudent than ever for anyone who lives in an area that is prone to snow, as well as for anyone who is interested in reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. However, if you do not require all-wheel drive, the Honda Insight provides even greater fuel efficiency for a lower price, making it an attractive alternative.