AWD Prius: The Guilt-Free Car that Takes You From City to Country and Back Again

Toyota Yakima

For adventures that make memories and leave only footprints.

I moved to Los Angeles a year ago and for the first time in years, I started thinking about owning a car again.

Southern California offers so many lifestyle options that any vehicle I own needs to be able to take me from Tuesday in West Hollywood to Saturday afternoon in the mountains. Since I care more about the environment than I did in the past, I want to have my cake and eat it too. And the AWD Prius may just be sweet enough. 

Related: Toyota RAV4: A Small SUV That’s Big On Adventure

Toyota Prius

Taking in the views from the passenger’s side. Photo: Kirsten Alana

I Think I’ve Found the One

After my recent test drive of the Toyota Prius LE AWD and XLE AWD in Oregon, I think I’ve found the car that fits every aspect of my new lifestyle, sans guilt. So now the coolest hybrid on the block may be, the Prius? That’s not a sentence I thought I’d ever write. Much as I’ve long been a fan of Toyota’s first answer to reducing one’s personal carbon footprint. 

Related: I love my Prius. This is why. 

Toyota Prius

Get detailed info about your trip, fuel and more. Photo: Kirsten Alana

It’s Electric, baby!

Prius was updated for 2019 with an electric all-wheel drive system in addition to the hybrid engine (while Prius does make a plug-in hybrid, the Prius Prime, it is not available in all wheel drive). And, it was given additional ground clearance that took its overall height from 5.1″ to 5.3″ for capability on almost any terrain. It has added traction but doesn’t sacrifice fuel economy. It easily handled my drive from Portland to Maupin and beyond where I learned to fly fish on the Deschutes River. Winding roads were a delight because the Prius may be higher than it once was but it’s essentially still a compact car. It easily hugged those curves while the battery charged on every downhill coast. 

Awd Prius

A dashboard that’s user-friendly. Photo: Kirsten Alana

A No-fuss Dashboard is What this Girl Wants

I found the dashboard, steering wheel, and infotainment controls to be intuitive and quick to engage with. Less time looking at the 6.1” touch-screen display meant more time with my eyes on the road. 

Related: 2019 Toyota Highlander: Why it Makes the Best Travel Car EVER

Awd Prius

Cruising in the Prius. Photo: Toyota

Fuel-Efficient and Keeps You in Check!

In Los Angeles, I can spend a significant amount of time just sitting on the highway if I don’t plan accordingly. I thought about that when I hit traffic leaving Portland. Then I stopped worrying as I checked the console. A constantly updating breakdown of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system reminded me that Prius is one of the most fuel-efficient AWD-equipped vehicles in America. 50 miles per gallon on average and it’s supplemented by the regenerative braking system that returns unused energy and energy created from braking back to the battery. So there was energy going to recharge the battery every time I braked! Bliss for my conscience.

Toyota Prius

The Prius is very fuel-efficient. Photo: Kirsten Alana

Yes, You Can Bring All Your Gear. Yakima Racks Provide the Storage You’ll Need

When I considered buying a car I assumed I’d need a crossover vehicle or full-size SUV to accommodate both the terrain and the gear I’d need for weekend trips. But AWD Prius can be purchased with sporty Yakima racks that I found easy to access and that, combined with a still-roomy trunk, gave me more than enough space to store equipment and supplies. The rack on the Prius I tested was just high enough to get some stretch in my calves. Not high enough to need a tall person around for. More to be thankful for as a girl who likes to take care of herself!

Yamika Racks

Yakima racks on the Prius make for great storage! Photo: Kristen Alana

Safety and Convenience Features Made Time on the Road Less Stressful

The integrated backup camera display and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert both came in handy multiple times during my test drive. The full-speed adaptive cruise control with lane assist gave me peace of mind during the long highway stretches. My passengers rejoiced when they found two outlets in the back seat and three total USB ports in the Prius. 

Awd Prius

The Prius makes it so easy to charge devices. Photo: Kirsten Alana

The XLE AWD had the nifty addition of Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging with an indicator light. My iPhone Xs could finally break free from the cord life! 

AWD Prius Gives Me What I Need

Home is my office so I won’t drive in LA too much between Monday and Thursday, except to after-hours work events. When I am on the road, I want to feel good about the car. I don’t want it to just look good. Yet, as I’ve shared, I also don’t want to be kept from enjoying all that outdoor adventure that California is tempting me with. AWD Prius is the car that accommodates all the needs I have.


There are so many places to go with Toyota! Photo: Kirsten Alana

So now that well known Toyota catchphrase, “Let’s Go Places” really means “Let’s Go MORE Places.” So many more. And I am wholeheartedly here for that! 

MPG difference between AWD and front-wheel drive on Prius LE is 54/50/52 and on LE AWD, 52/48/50. The Prius LE retails for $24,980 and the XLE AWD for $26,380. Paint colors for the cars I tested are Electric Storm Blue and Supersonic Red.

I'M Thinking Of Owning A Car Again, But Want An Eco-Friendly Adventure Ready Car. Prius Hybrid Now Has Awd Capability And Roof Racks That Handle My Gear.

Kirsten is a photographer and travel blogger. A former nomad, she now lives in Los Angeles where she enjoys... More about Kirsten Alana