Simplified lineup for a soon-to-be-discontinued hybrid. The 2019 Toyota Prius c hits showrooms on borrowed time, as Toyota will end its run as the entry point into the brand’s famed hybrid lineup after this year. The most noticeable change to the Prius c this year is its simplified lineup that cuts the top two trim levels and leaves only the L and LE models.
Other than the new trim level arrangement, not much else has changed. On the outside, the Prius c carries on with the same refreshed nose it received in 2018. Inside, its materials remain low-rent and the noise level is high.
Better looking than its big brother. The Toyota Prius c may not take home first prize in a beauty contest against the rest of its segment, but it's far prettier than its liftback big brother. The Prius c never inherited the new-generation Prius styling, leaving it with traditional subcompact hatchback looks. Some may find this a tad uncreative, but we’ll take it over the overcooked Prius any day.
Inside, the same continues as the Prius c’s cabin is toned down and simple next to its big brother. While the more reserved styling is likely a selling point to some buyers, its hard plastics and cheap chrome accents make the cabin feel low-rent.
Roomy interior, but it lacks anything fun. Despite its tiny dimensions, the Toyota Prius c is surprisingly roomy. This is especially true when you consider many hybrid models’ battery packs gobble up seating and cargo room. The Prius c bucks this trend with up to 17.1 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats up and 35.7 inches of rear leg room.
While this cargo room falls behind the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, the Prius c’s taller roofline and non-interfering rear glass make loading cargo easier. This space beats the Ford Fiesta at 14.9 cubic feet and matches the Mitsubishi Mirage while offering nearly an extra inch of leg room.
As the automotive world continues to evolve to fit buyer needs, advanced technology has trickled into these low-cost machines. Things like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and large touchscreens have all become at least options throughout the class. Sadly, the Prius c offers none of this.
Big price jump with minimal benefit. When the Toyota Prius c debuted back in 2012, it offered a significant fuel economy boost compared to the rest of the class. This made its higher base price tolerable.
Today, an EPA-estimated 46 miles per gallon combined and a base MSRP of $22,450 simply doesn’t make sense when you consider the competition like the Mirage (39 mpg combined, $14,825 starting price), the 2020 Corolla Hybrid (52 mpg combined, $23,880 starting price), and the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (58 mpg combined, $23,285 starting price).
Final thoughts. A few years back, the Toyota Prius c was a leader in the class with great fuel economy and a surprisingly low base price. As the hybrid and subcompact realms have progressed through the years, the Toyota Prius c has fallen behind.
There are even gasoline-only vehicles that come close enough in fuel economy to cancel out any fuel savings the Prius c offers. And with new small hybrid models coming, it simply makes no financial sense to pick up the 2019 Toyota Prius c for any other reason than personal preference.
If you want better fuel economy, look to the Toyota Corolla Hybrid’s 52 mpg combined or Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid’s 58 mpg combined. Want more cargo room from a subcompact hatchback? The Honda Fit delivers up to 52.7 cubes of cargo space. Looking for a little added performance? The 197-horsepower Ford Fiesta ST delivers that and then some.