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New Prius c has lower price, better MPG

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Feb 16, 2012

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


The new Toyota Prius c

It’s cheaper than the first generation Prius introduced in the USA back in 2001. It gets better city gas mileage than the latest-generation Prius. Not satisfied with selling more Prii than just about all the other hybrids combined, Toyota offered a super-sized edition last Fall in the form of the Prius v. In March of 2012, the car company covers all bases, with a smaller Prius to be known as the “c” (for city). LA Car received an advanced preview of this latest member of the Prius family. There are a couple of numbers that will grab your attention about the Prius c. The first is the number 53—that’s the EPA city rating for this car. It’s the highest of any car without an electric plug. The second number is $18,950—that’s the price for an entry level Prius c. It’s the least expensive Prius ever offered in this country. It’s even cheaper than the first-generation Prius that landed on these shores back in 2001. Considering that the Prius c will out-perform that first-generation Prius is just about every way, that’s quite an accomplishment.


A couple of other numbers are worth noting too. 542 pounds. That’s the weight savings between a regular Prius (which Toyota now refers to as the “Liftback”) and the new Prius c. 19 inches. That’s how much shorter the new Prius c is compared to the Liftback. Both of these numbers—together with a lower center of gravity and extensive use of lightweight, high-tensile steel—translate to a better handling car. This was born out in our road test. The c is the sportiest Prius of them all. Despite the shortened length, the Prius c maintains a fair amount of rear seat room and trunk space. A roofline over the rear seats doesn’t taper down quite as much as in the Liftback, which allows for a seating position that doesn’t require quite as much leg room. To maximize space in the trunk, Toyota somehow managed to fit all the hybrid batteries under the rear seats. In the Liftback, some of the batteries extend out into the trunk area. Not so with the Prius c. Its trunk size is comparable to that of a non-hybrid five-door hatchback. Other features of the Prius c include a new, Thin Film Transfer (TFT) full-color Multi-Information Display (MID) that seems to do a better job of helping the driver utilize the features unique to hybrid vehicles. The system includes an ECO-Score display that graphically illustrates driving scores for each portion of a trip. An ECO-savings display allows for gasoline costs and a comparison vehicle (presumably your second car) to be pre-set to provide you with an estimate of the actual cost savings enjoyed driving the Prius c. It can even calculate long-term savings records. All this, of course, is to reinforce how smart you were to have purchased the Prius c.


The Prius c also offers what Toyota calls a Touch Tracer display that coordinates diver tactile action on the steering wheel controls to a visual indicator on the MID atop the dashboard—all to help keep your eyes closer to the road. As with the Prius Liftback, the Prius c has Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive—Toyotaspeak for a full hybrid system that is capable of running in pure electric mode at low speeds. While some car companies have relied on partial hybrid systems, all of Toyota’s hybrids are full hybrid designs—and it’s superiority has withstood the test of time. Along with many of the other new Toyotas this year, the Prius c can be had with Entune—Toyota’s multi-media system that operates through your smart phone to bring Bing and Pandora to the vehicle audio display. With Pandora, you can build your playlist—mostly for free. Thereafter, Pandora keeps building the list based on what it thinks you’ll like to hear. Entune-equipped cars also have SiriusXM Satellite Radio capability (includes a three-month train subscription to XM Select), HD Radio with iTunes tagging, real-time traffic, weather , fuel prices, sports, and stocks information, and voice recognition.


With Entune, you really don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

So is there anything that the c doesn’t have? We do miss the Power mode from the Liftback and v models. The Prius c does retain the Normal, ECO, and EV driving modes. The ECO mode seems to work better than ever. It’s not as noticeably sluggish compared with the Normal mode, yet it definitely yields optimum fuel economy. We averaged 53-54 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving—that’s even better than the combined EPA rating. As with the other Prii, there’s a EV mode to let you drive in pure electric mode at moderate speeds and short distances—i.e., up to 25 miles per hour for up to one mile. We miss the dash-mounted transmission shifter, but not all were in love with it. Some will welcome the more conventional console-mounted location for the shifter on the Prius c. Prius aficionados make abundant use of the B position on the shifter, which serves as a useful way to slow the car down and make greater use of the car’s regenerative braking ability. On the Prius c, it’s a simple shifter toggle to the side. Those used to the dash mount will need to get used to the new position, but it should be a relatively quick study. As with the other Prii, the Prius c uses an electronic continuously variable transmission to maximize fuel economy. The familiar CVT drone is decidedly un-sporty sounding, but such is the price of saving energy.


With gas prices ever on the rise, we have no doubt that Toyota will find much success with the Prius c. Not only is it the least expensive Prius with the best city fuel economy, it’s also an attractive package—arguably the handsomest of the three. With its five-door hatchback configuration and a single glass rear window design, the c is the most European-looking Prius to date. It’s design is a bit of a blend between the Prius Liftback and a GTI. And while no one will mistaken the Prius c with a GTI behind the wheel, it’s certainly the sportiest Prius of them all. And that holds true for the $18,950 Prius c One (the base model) as it does for the fully loaded Prius c Four. SIDEBAR COMMENT: The $18,950 price tag for the Prius c is sure to attract a lot of buyers. You can spend a lot more, if you are convinced that you need a fully-loaded model with SoftTex-trimmed seats, alloy wheels, Display Audio with Navigation and Entune, moonroof, six-way adjustable drivers seat, et cetera, et cetera. Equipped as such, a Prius c could set you back over $25,000. Here’s a dirty little secret: The base model drives just as well, rides just as nicely, and performs just as economically as a fully-loaded model. In particular, think twice about the optional 16-inch alloy wheels. While the steering response is slightly quicker, the turning radius is very noticeably bigger. If you must have alloy wheels, stick with the 15-inchers to retain the wonderful turning radius of the Prius c. – Roy Nakano SUMMARY JUDGMENT Toyota hits another hybrid home run. For more information on Toyota products, go to


SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Toyota Prius c Price: $18,950 for the Prius c One Includes remote keyless entry system, remote illuminated entry, power windows with driver-side one-touch auto up/down, rear window defogger with timer, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, 4 speakers in 4 locations, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity, auto sound leveling, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology, Star Safety System ™ - includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST), 9 airbags; driver and front passenger Advanced Whiplash-Injury Lessening (WIL) seats, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) and Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS). $19,900 for the Prius c Two Adds AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, 6 speakers in 6 locations, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity, auto sound leveling, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology, variable intermittent windshield wipers, fabric-trimmed two-tone front seats, 6-way adjustable driver’s seat; 4-way adjustable front passenger seat and seatback pocket, 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with adjustable headrest, Cruise Control, center console with armrest and storage compartment, cargo area tonneau cover, cargo area lamp and engine immobilizer.


Pandora will figure out your musical tastes and put together a playlist accordingly.

$21,635 for the Prius c Three Adds Display Audio with Navigation and Entune™- includes 6.1-in. touchscreen, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, 6 speakers in 6 locations, SiriusXM Satellite Radio capability (includes 3 month trial subscription to XM Select Package), HD Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information with customizable settings, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advanced voice recognition, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology, Entune™- includes Bing™ and Pandora®; real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks. Apps available spring 2012 at no charge include iHeartRadio, and OpenTable®. Access to Entune™ services is complimentary for three years, Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-Information Display, Bluetooth® hands free phoneand voice command controls, Touch Tracer Display and Smart Key System on front doors and liftgate with Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry. $23,230 for the Prius c Four Adds color-keyed heated outside power mirrors with turn signal indicators, 15-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels with P175/65R15 tires, SofTex-trimmed heated front seats; 6-way adjustable driver seat; 4-way adjustable front passenger seat with seatback pocket and integrated fog lamps EPA fuel economy rating: 53 miles per gallon (city) 46 miles per gallon (highway) 50 miles per gallon (combined)


Engine: 1NZ-FXE (Atkinson cycle)1.5-liter Aluminum 4-cylinder aluminum block and head, double overhead cam (DOHC) 16-valve VVT-i Electric motor: Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor Max Voltage DC520V Horsepower: Hybrid System Net Horsepower 99 horsepower (74 kW) Horsepower (SAE Net) 73 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm (54kW) @ 4,800 rpm) Electric Motor Power Output 60 hp/45 kW Torque Gas engine: 82 lbs.-ft @ 4,000 rpm (111 Nm @4,000 rpm) Electric motor: 125 lb.-ft. (169 Nm) Transmission: Electronically controlled continuously variable (ECVT) Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Steering: Electronic power-assisted rack and pinion Suspension Front: Independent MacPherson strut suspension with stabilizer bar Rear: Torsion beam


Brakes Front: Power-assisted ventilated front disc with integrated regenerative braking and Star Safety System™ and 10-inch rotors Rear: Drum-type rear braking and Star Safety System™ with 9-inch drums Parking Lever control, anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Standard Wheels and tires Wheel: 5.0J x 15 in. (6.0J x 16 in. available) - steel with cover as base wheel, aluminum alloy 15-inch and 16-inch available Tires: P175/65 R15 (P195/50 R16 available) low rolling resistance all-season Dimensions Overall Length 157.3 in. Overall Width 66.7 in. Overall Height 56.9 in. Wheelbase 100.4 in.A Curb Weight 2,500 lbs. Performance: Acceleration 0-60 mph 11.5 seconds Top speed 105 mph


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