Ranking as the junior member of the Toyota Prius family, the Prius c provides the outstanding efficiency you’d expect from this hybrid-powertrain group, in a smaller and less expensive package. That combination of moderate price and well-established hybrid experience makes the little hatchback remarkably easy to own, as well as to drive.
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2016 Toyota Prius c Overview
What's New for 2016
Freshened last year, the Prius c is essentially a carryover for 2016, but it can now be fitted with a new Toyota Safety Sense C option. Available for Prius c Three and Four, it’s part of a Wheel and Safety Package that includes a lane-departure warning, pre-collision mitigation, and automatic high-beam headlights. A limited-production Persona Series Special Edition is basically a Prius c Two, but with a black exterior and either Electric Lime or Cherry Pearl accent trim.
Choosing Your Toyota Prius c
While the standard Prius hatchback already dwells near the smaller end of the size spectrum, the Prius c is 19 inches shorter and 500 pounds lighter. Those figures position it firmly into the subcompact class. Like others of its type, the Prius c offers fine urban agility and is a cinch to park.
The hybrid powertrain consists of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor. Together, they produce 99 horsepower. Like other Prius models, the c has front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). According to EPA estimates, you can expect to achieve 53 mpg around town and 46 mpg on the highway. In combined driving, you could get an estimated 50 mpg.
The Prius c comes in four basic ascending trim levels, simply dubbed One through Four.
Because the Prius c One lacks what many consider essential equipment, including cruise control and a split-folding rear seat, we recommend at least the Two, which starts at $20,395 (including destination charge). Your thirst for technology and your budget determine whether further upgrades are appropriate, but it's a nearly $5,000 leap from the Two to the Four.
2016 Toyota Prius c Review
The smallest and most affordable member of the Prius family, the Prius C delivers superb hybrid efficiency for the price of an ordinary hatchback. When it comes to total cost of ownership, few vehicles can run the same league.
Equipment and Pricing
The Prius C comes in four basic trim levels, plus the limited-edition Persona Series:
- Starting at just $19,560, the One is equipped with automatic climate control, LED exterior lighting, a touchscreen infotainment interface, a one-piece folding rear seat, and a four-speaker sound system with Bluetooth and voice controls.
- For $20,360, you can upgrade to the Two with cruise control, six audio speakers, and extra interior features (including a split-folding rear seat).
- Equipped like the Two, the Persona Series ($21,355) get a blackout exterior treatment with lime green or pink accents.
- The $21,785 Three kicks up the technology quotient with a navigation system, integrated smartphone apps, satellite radio, and keyless ignition.
- At $24,495, the line-topping Four adds a leatherette interior with heated front seats, a sunroof, a rearview camera, alloy wheels, and heated mirrors.
The Three and Four are eligible for Toyota's Safety Sense system ($300), consisting of front collision alert, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.
All versions of the front-drive Prius C come with a 1.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine and a battery-powered electric motor. Combined output registers at 99 horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) does the shifting.
Performance highlights include:
- Proven Technology: The Prius line has a history of reliable performance that's unsurpassed among hybrids.
- Steering/Handling: The tight turning radius makes for stress-free parking and urban maneuvering.
- Fuel Efficiency: You get a solid 50 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Nothing else at this price comes close.
- All but the most sedate drivers will wish for mroe power on hills and expressway ramps.
- Like many economy cars, the Prius C can get downright jittery on poorly maintained roads.
- Rear-seat passengers will find it easy to get comfortable thanks to the tallish roofline and flat floor.
- The standard infotainment touchscreen looks and behaves like it belongs on a more expensive car.
- The Prius C's low price shows up in the hard plastic surfaces that dominate the interior.
- The ungainly glovebox is bound to do a battle with your front passenger's shins.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
You can add plenty of infotainment and safety technology to the Prius C without spoiling its price.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Despite its modern looks and small footprint, the Prius C isn't particularly fun to drive. You get competent road manners, but nothing more.
The Bottom Line
The Prius C is a dedicated economy car and performance brilliantly in that role.