They may share the name and the technology, but the Toyota Prius c is distinct from – and in meaningful ways more attractive than – its more popular and recognized Prius relative. It aims to fit that Prius paradigm into the space-challenged complexities of urban life, combining the benefits of a hybrid drivetrain – excellent fuel economy, smooth stop-and-go operation, green credentials – with tight dimensions for quicker reflexes and better odds in the parking game.
What's New for 2017
The Toyota Safety Sense C system (collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights) is now standard across the line. Alloy wheels are now also standard on each trim level, and the nose, rear bumper, and lower sills have been subtly restyled. Otherwise the Prius c makes its high-efficiency, low-emissions way into 2017 essentially unchanged.
Choosing Your Toyota Prius c
The Toyota Prius c (note: yes, lower-case c) is a five-door hatchback whose small footprint – sizewise it is nearly identical to the Yaris – and comparatively conventional styling set it apart from its larger, more radical Prius sibling. A 1.5-liter inline-four and an electric motor work together to send a maximum of 99 horsepower through an continuously variable transmission to the front wheels. EPA fuel economy tests return estimates of 48 miles per gallon city, 43 mpg highway and 46 mpg combined.
In a market saturated with cliché trim level names, Toyota has refreshingly labeled the Prius c's different levels as One, Two, Three, and Four:
The middle of the range makes for a two-car sweet spot. The Two's functional and quality-of-life enhancements more than justify its marginal price increase over the One. For those who want more from the sun and sound departments, the price difference between the Three with the moonroof and the Four means the foglights, SofTex interior, and seat heaters of the latter essentially cost a hard-to-justify $1740. Be advised that an updated (if mechanically identical) Prius c is due for 2018.
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