Review: 2012 Toyota Prius C
We travel to the Sunshine State to drive Toyota's newest hybrid.No Comments
Toyota calls the Prius C the most-fuel efficient hybrid that doesn't have a plug.
More Hybrid, Less Money
When a company has a hybrid that's been as successful as the Toyota Prius has been over the years, how does that company expand on its success? In Toyota's case, the answer is to expand the family.
The lineup additions include the Prius V (brings more cargo space to the table), a plug-in hybrid, and now, the Prius C.
No, the 'C' doesn't stand for 'cheap,' (Toyota says it stands for 'city') even if the car is intended to be an entry-level contender for buyers who are curious about the Prius (or hybrids in general) but scared off by the cost. The C feels upscale enough (we'll get to that) to avoid the dreaded econocar label, even if the performance doesn't quite take it out of that category (we'll get to that, too). Indeed, the C has more in common with a hypothetical hybrid Toyota Yaris than one might think.
So we've got a less-expensive Prius that offers funkier looks and a promise of higher mpgs on our hands, all with the intent of luring younger buyers into the fold. What do we make of this 'gateway vehicle for the Prius family'? Read on to find out.
EnTune allows drivers to use Microsoft's Bing search engine to locate services, and it also allows drivers to stream Pandora Internet radio, among other things.
Toyota folks say they're making an effort to make hybrids a little bit more accessible to those who wouldn't normally shop the segment, and one noticeable concession to that effort is the shifter, which is a more traditional gear lever than what's found in the standard Prius.
The appeal of the C is that it's lighter than the standard Prius liftback, but 99 horses can only do so much. Acceleration is of the 'are we there yet?' variety, which is fine for around-town driving, but it won't light the heart on fire. Nor will it light anything else on fire. To be fair, that may not be an issue with most C buyers, who will be looking for efficient urban transport.
Toyota has tried to position the C as a bit sportier than the standard Prius (it's definitely lighter, tipping the scales at a weight more in line with the Yaris), and while the steering feel mostly lives up to the bargain, there's no doubt that this is an urban runabout, not a truly sporty hybrid. We noticed little difference between the 15-inch and 16-inch wheels, even though cars with the 16-inchers are supposed to be a bit sportier. We should note that our South Florida drive route was tailored more to urban driving than back-road brawling, which likely fits the C's mission to a T.
We did get a short freeway stint, and found the C to be impressively smooth for a small car at highway speeds. Low-cost doesn't mean penalty box.
There's an Eco drive mode for better efficiency which dampens throttle response and an EV drive mode that keeps the car in electric-only mode for longer at low speeds, and both appeared to work as advertised during our brief drive.
EnTune uses a customer's smartphone to access the data cloud, and it can be used to search out nearby businesses, reserve tables at a restaurant, find sports scores, and score movie tickets. A subscription is free for three years, and a Facebook app may be coming soon.
Interior space and cargo space is adequate for most adults. An available 60/40 split-fold rear seat adds to the utility, and cargo capacity is 17.1 cubic feet.
In addition to the aforementioned hill-start assist system, the Prius C comes standard with traction control, an anti-skid system, and nine airbags.