By Cars.com EditorsJune 15, 2012
About the video
For some time, the Toyota Prius has enjoyed "king of the hill" status when it comes to fuel efficiency. However, the Prius now has to share that title with ... itself: the 2012 Prius c hatchback.
<v Voiceover>cars.com auto review. Hi, I'm Dave Thomas with cars.com. And for the past few years, if you wanted a car that got 50 miles per gallon, you only had one option, the Toyota Prius.
Today, I'm gonna show you the second 50 mile per gallon car in the US, the Toyota Prius C. Now, why would you pick a Prius C over a traditional Prius? Well, it's $5,000 less, and the obvious trade-off with that price comes in the size department, because while it may look like a Prius upfront, someone's chopped 19 inches off the back. So how tiny is it really? It is a few inches shorter than Ford's Fiesta or Hyundai Accent. To non-hybrid subcompacts, you might be cross shopping. But it does have more passenger volume inside than Ford's Fiesta or Honda's Insight hybrid. However, there's no denying it, Hyundai's Accent has much more room inside, especially in the backseat. But you're probably looking at the Prius C as a commute car, not a people hauler, and everything about the Prius C is smaller than the regular Prius, and that includes the hybrid system. It has a 1.5 liter four cylinder engine, putting out just 73 horsepower. But when combine with the electric motor, there are 99 horses. Yeah, that's still sounds puny, but the Prius C does feel zippy, even when carrying other passengers. The steering is sharp, and even their genitive brakes have a nice, consistent feel. Overall, the performance is on par with gas cars, like the Fiesta or Toyota's own Yaris, but the Prius C has a longer wheel base in those two cars, resulting in a much more comfortable ride. The hybrid battery pack has also been downsized, Toyota fit it underneath the back seat. By doing that, it allowed them to put 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space in the Prius C. And that's more than the Fiesta, but significantly less than Hyundai's Accent. Take those shrunk and hybrid components, drop them into a subcompact car, and the result is amazing mileage. 53 miles per gallon city, 46 miles per gallon highway, for that 50 miles per gallon combined figure. And in our real world testing, we've definitely seen results that align with those figures. For $19,000, shoppers of any type of car expect a decent level of interior quality. The Prius C definitely delivers on that. It also has a ton of cubbies for stuff like your smartphone. There's one here, one here, one here, and one right here. There are also a few high-tech features you get in the base model, including Bluetooth and USB connections, and this 3.5 inch screen right here. This is where the trip computer is displayed, but it's a lot more comprehensive than most trip computers. It shows your driving style and battery level, as well as a score for your driving. But lots of hybrids have those screens, what sets this apart, is that you can input the current price of gas and the mileage of another car, the one you traded in for the Prius C perhaps, and see how much money you're saving. Well the computer is standard in the base model, called the One, I don't think many shoppers are gonna buy it. It has low quality fabric seats, and just a few other features. What I think they will pick is the Two, the one we have here, it's only $1000 more and has a lot of other features. It adds a six speaker stereo, nicer fabric on the seats, a 60/40 split folding backseat, cruise control, and the center armrest, which comes in handy on a long commute. There are two other trim levels of the Prius C that include navigation, keyless entry, and push button start, and they both start at over $21,000. That's a lot of money for any subcompact, hybrid or not, but I can see some commuters may wanna opt for those extra convenience features. And the commuter is who Toyota focused on with the Prius C, not hyper milers, not green trendsetters, but the average Joe, who wants to get excellent mileage, but still have those creature comforts. And for those shoppers, there probably isn't a better commute car out there than the Prius C. <v Voiceover>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog, kickingtires.net.