Toyota Prius c: PC Car for the Masses

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Conspicuous conservation is for the rich. Or at least that’s what the data show. In general, AutoPacific research shows that buyers of hybrids make more money than buyers of comparable vehicles. Not surprising, since hybrids are more expensive than single engine vehicles and generally do not reap the economic rewards of their fuel efficiency before they have been traded in.

But now that there are more than 2.5 million Prius’ on the road worldwide (1.1 million in the US), economies of scale might help make having a PC ride possible for the masses. In fact, by the end of the decade, the Prius family of vehicles may be the leading nameplate for Toyota sales in the US. At least that’s what’s Toyota is betting on with the Prius c.

Outside

The Prius c is intended to be the access vehicle for young, eco-conscious buyers on the budget. Smaller than the standard Prius, the c (or city) shares the family resemblance, but in a sportier way. The sheet metal has sharper lines and its profile shows less taper in the roofline towards the rear, giving more rear seat passenger room and a sportier look. The overall affect is more youthful and athletic look similar to the Honda Fit. Toyota is offering more youthful colors that may help to brand this vehicle properly, including “Habanero” a red orange that commands attention.

Inside

The interior is well appointed, but reminds us that this vehicle, based on a Yaris platform, is intended for the masses. The plastics used are de-lustered to avoid a cheap appearance that was often seen in entry vehicles a few years ago. Keeping with industry trends, the Prius c interior, while not rich, is comfortable. The vehicle includes Toyota’s new Display Audio System, and offers features like a 6.1-inch touch screen, navigation, and Toyota’s as Entune multimedia system with smartphone integration.

The Drive

With it’s smaller size, smaller engine and smaller battery pack than the Prius Liftback, the Prius c comes in at just 2,496 pounds, which is very light for a Hybrid. Don’t expect this lighter weight to translate into substantially higher fuel economy or more spirited driving however. The point of these differences with the Liftback is to make the car more affordable. Behind the wheel, expect the hybrid powertrain and CVT transmission to warm your heart towards saving the planet, not carving the pavement.

The Deal

The Prius will be offered in four trims. Prius c One will be at $18,950, which is a lower MSRP than the first-generation Prius was 12 years ago. The Prius c Two will start at $19,900. The Prius c Three will start at $21,635, and the Four will be $23,230.

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