Why the new awd Toyota Prius isn’t coming stateside just yet

Toyota hasn’t tested the Prius‘ all-wheel-drive system in the frigid conditions typical of northern states.

TOKYO — The fourth-generation Toyota Prius went on sale in Japan last week complete with a new all-wheel-drive version.

Toyota expects to sell as many as 28,800 awd variants a year in its home market, but don’t expect them in the U.S. anytime soon.

Despite the increasing popularity of awd passenger cars in the U.S., Toyota is not convinced Americans want an awd Prius.

The world’s largest carmaker also hasn’t tested the system, dubbed E-Four, in the frigid conditions typical of northern states, let alone Arctic frontiers such as Alaska.

Back home, Toyota’s engineers spent six years assessing demand and testing the system in Japan’s northern regions, where snowfall can be tremendous but temperatures more mild.

The company is studying a possible U.S. launch, but nothing has been decided, E-Four engineer Yoshihiro Ikushima said at a test drive. Prius sales are typically concentrated in sunshine states such as California where all-wheel traction is a low priority.

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