2015 Toyota Prius C

A fuel-sipping hatchback for ascetics at a bargain price.

  • Likes
  • Ease of parking
  • fuel efficiency
  • compact size
  • Dislikes
  • refinement
  • acceleration
  • handling

The 2015 Toyota Prius C is one of GAYOT's TOP 10 Dog-Friendly Cars 

Toyota's subcompact hybrid offers the expected Prius fuel economy but at price-point thousands less than a regular midsized Prius. The Prius c trades the almond shape of the regular Prius for a more standard hatchback roof line, enabling a similar cargo volume, though it definitely feels like a smaller car from the driver's seat.

While all the cars in the Prius line share a similar "hybrid synergy" drive and continuously variable transmissions, the Toyota Prius c has a 1.5-liter gas engine instead of the 1.8-liter that drives the wheels and charges the batteries of the Prius and Prius v models. This means noticeably reduced pickup, with the Prius c's 99 total horsepower taking about 11 seconds to get the little hatchback to 60 mph. Lackluster acceleration has long been an expected compromise of the most fuel-efficient cars, and it's one many buyers are willing to make, especially in times of high gas prices. Post-1977 gas crisis cars, after all, often made do with half the horsepower of our Prius c test car. The late, lamented Geo (later sold by Chevy) Metro, the last US-spec non-hybrid to reach Prius fuel-economy levels, had a 55-horsepower 1.0-liter engine.

Like economical cars of the past, however, and unlike its big brothers in the Prius family, the Prius c is noisy and raw-feeling. One of the first things a driver accustomed to hybrids may notice, on starting a Prius c, is a lack of the expected silence. Instead, you get clicks and whines and whirrs of various electric and mechanical things, and when the gas engine comes on, a thrashing, droning sound that reminds you to lay off and get back to hypermiling.

There are advantages to the Toyota Prius c's smallness and lack of insulation. It makes driving through narrow, congested streets easier and is great for parking. We noted, though, that our Prius c Four had an oddly large turning radius for such a small car: 37.4 feet, or about the same as that of a typical midsize sedan. Some research revealed the optional 16-inch wheels on our test car to be causing its lack of maneuverability. Opting for the base 15-inch steel wheels gives a more reasonable 31.4-foot turning circle.

All of its compromises could very well be justified if our $25,320 as-tested Prius c delivered significantly better economy than a Prius sedan. However, at 46.2 mpg overall in our city-heavy LA circuit, the smaller hatchback actually returned two fewer mpg than the last Prius we tested. The Prius c's smaller batteries and lower-output gas engine could be responsible, with the downsized powertrain having to work harder under the same acceleration loads. Driven conservatively and in its intended environment of crowded, low-speed downtown streets, we think the Prius c will definitely meet or exceed its EPA mileage ratings. So, while it's no rocket, and doesn't have the comfort or refinement of the regular Prius, the Toyota Prius c makes sense as a bargain hybrid urban hatchback.

Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty; 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty; 2-year/25,000 mile free maintenance

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Prius C is featured on

Specs

Base Price: $23,360

As Tested: $23,360

  • 53 / 46 mpg
  • EPA
  • 11.3 sec
  • 0-60
  • 99 hp
  • Horsepower
  • 105 mph
  • Top Speed
  • Engine: 1.5-liter inline 4-cylinder with electric motor
  • Horsepower: 99 hp
  • Torque: 82
  • Transmission: CVT
  • Curb Weight: 2,500 lbs
  • Wheelbase: 100.4 in
  • Length: 157.3 in
  • Width: 66.7 in
  • Height: 56.9 in
  • Turning circle: 37.4 ft
  • Brakes: front disc, rear drum, ABS standard
  • Suspension: MacPherson strut front; torsion beam rear
  • Traction: traction and stability control standard
  • 0-60 mph: 11.3 sec
  • 60-0 mph: 118 ft.
  • Top Speed: 105 mph
  • EPA City: 53 mpg
  • EPA Highway: 46 mpg
  • Combined MPG: 50 mpg
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Safety: NHTSA rating: 4-star overall, IIHS: P, G, G, G, G

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