As the nation's best-selling hybrid—and California's best-selling passenger car—the Prius continues to impress buyers with its blend of economy and eco-friendliness. These traits were only enhanced in 2012, when Toyota expanded the model lineup to include a smaller variant dubbed the Prius c.
Heading into 2013, the Prius c shuffles some higher-end features into lower-level trim levels, but remains largely unchanged. Speaking of trim levels, the Prius c has four of them: One, Two, Three and Four. They all feature the same 1.5-liter engine that works with an electric motor to deliver a meager 99 horsepower.
So equipped, the Prius c crawls to 60 mph in a snail-like 11.3 seconds. But the trade-off for tepid acceleration is splendid fuel economy: 53 mpg city and 46 mpg highway.
The Prius c appeals to younger buyers with a nearly vertical hatch that gives it the look of a "hot" hatchback. Even better, a Prius c One still costs less than $20,000, even with additional standard features. It's one of the lowest-priced cars to get well in excess of 40 mpg in the city and on the highway.
This low price comes at a cost, though. The subcompact’s cabin—a sea of multicolored plastics—has a downmarket feel, and gets noisy at highway speeds.