2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Introduction
A good way to ensure the longevity of a concept is to continually build upon its successes to create ever more innovative iterations. This is a fact the planners at Toyota are well aware of—as evidenced by their decision to broaden the Prius lineup.
First, we saw the emergence of the more capacious Prius v, as well as the introduction of the super-efficient Prius Plug-in. To round out the lineup, Toyota introduced the most affordable hybrid model ever, in the form of the Prius c for model year 2012.
Based largely on Toyota’s Yaris, Prius c is considerably smaller than the other Prius-badged Toyotas. The “c” suffix stands for city and that’s exactly where this little runabout shines. By their very nature, hybrids get better fuel economy in city driving, so as a city car the Prius c starts off with a significant advantage.
If you factor in its tidy size and full complement of contemporary tech, you’ll very quickly come to realize Toyota’s looking at the potential for a runaway best seller.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: : Models And Prices
Offered in four states of trim — literally One, Two, Three, and Four; the 2013 Toyota Prius c is as easy to order as it is efficient with fuel.
The base level is Toyota Prius c One. Cars outfitted in One trim feature remote keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a full complement of power accessories, an automatic climate control system, a folding rear seat, a 3.5-inch multifunction display, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming through a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB/iPod interface, and 15-inch steel wheels.
To all of the above, the Toyota Prius c Two adds a leather-like dash panel for a warmer, richer interior feel. Further, the audio system is bumped up to a six-speaker affair. Rounding out the package are cruise control, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a center console storage bin and armrest, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, and a cargo cover.
The next step up, the Prius c Three, incorporates keyless entry and start and a 6.1-inch touchscreen to display its navigation system more clearly. The larger monitor also gets bundled with satellite radio, voice activated controls, and Toyota's Entune smartphone integration system. Entune aggregates streaming Internet audio and traffic information with Bing search functions, as well as real time sports and stock information. Prius c Three also offers an alloy wheel option.
If you want it all, you’re looking at the 2013 Toyota Prius c Four. This version makes those alloy wheels standard equipment. Going farther toward the lux end of the spectrum, Four also brings it with foglights and leatherette upholstery for the steering wheel and the heated front seats. The Four’s outside rear view mirrors get heat too.
Four’s options include 16-inch wheels, a sunroof, and a quicker-ratio steering setup.
If you’d like, you can get a sunroof as an option on c Three too…er…c Three…also.
Pricing for the 2012 Toyota Prius c starts at $19,080.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Design
One of the Toyota’s prime assets is the fact its look is instantly recognizable as a Prius. After all, for the vast majority of the motoring public, that shape epitomizes hybrid.
That said, one of the smartest things Toyota did with the Prius c was give it a familial resemblance to the other Prius models. Its tidy size in comparison to the others also gives it more of a youthful exuberance, and indeed younger people are attracted to the c more than the other Prius autos. That shape is also responsible for the excellent .28 coefficient of drag the Prius c achieves.
It also looks sportier than the other Priuses (hmm, is that a word?). This is primarily due to the way it is narrower at the top than it is at the bottom. These proportions give it the appearance of greater stability. Meanwhile, the Prius c’s fender flares also make it look more athletic than its larger stablemates do.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Comfort And Cargo
Very “today”, the interior of the Prius c is cutting edge techno-chic. Like its Prius siblings, the instrument panel resides atop the dash, and is situated more toward the center of the car than the driver. It seems a bit weird when you first see it, but in use it proves to be an effective arrangement.
Seating is comfortable overall, though the steering wheel could telescope out a bit farther to accommodate the legs of our 6’1” frame. When we adjusted the driver’s seat so our legs could happy (plenty of room for that BTW), we had to reach in a bit to grasp the wheel. When seated in the rear, legroom was fine, as long as the taller among us seated in the front were willing to share. Headroom was more than adequate too.
The stubby styling of the Toyota city car might lead you to believe cargo-carrying capability is at a premium. However, the Prius c’s folding rear seat gives the littlest Prius some 17 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The seat folds as one piece in the c One, although all of the other trims offer a split fold.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Features And Controls
For us though, where Prius c really surprises and delights is in its standard feature set.
As we mentioned in the Models & Prices section, Prius c’s standard equipment list includes such notables as automatic climate control and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-Information Display, and Bluetooth hands-free controls. Every Prius c also features remote keyless entry. If you want to get a little more spendy, you can also opt for the optional Display Audio system with its satellite navigation function and Toyota’s Entune system.
Functioning through your smart phone, but wholly integrated into the car, Entune brings applications such as Open Table, Bing, and Pandora to the Prius c’s standard display screen. Entune also pipes real time information such as traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stock prices into the c.
If this diminutive Toyota hybrid is starting to look like a lot more than just an economy car to you, you’re very astute.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Safety And Ratings
The standard kit of safety features on all 2013 Toyota Prius c models includes stability control, traction control and hill start assist. The model’s complement of nine airbags includes front seat side airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, and a set of side curtain airbags. The Prius c also gets antilock brakes (front discs, rear drums), Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop Technology.
Both front seatbelts are fitted with pretensioners and force limiters, just as both front seats have seatbelt warning sensors. All five seating positions are equipped with three-point safety belts. The Prius c’s hood is designed to mitigate pedestrian injuries. Completing the safety features list are a tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, a vehicle proximity notification system, and an engine immobilizer.
In crash testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Prius c the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact, rear crash, and roof strength tests, making the Toyota a top safety pick.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
Prius c’s 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine makes 73 horsepower and 82 ft.-lbs. of torque. The two electric motors/generators fitted to the car produce an additional 60 horsepower and 125 ft-lbs of torque. Altogether, the powertrain generates a total system output of 99 horsepower.
Doesn’t sound like a lot, until you realize the Prius c weighs only 2,500 pounds.
The Toyota’s gasoline engine also charges a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. This can be used to run the Prius c solely under electric power for short distances at relatively low speeds (in the EV mode). Braking and deceleration also recharges the battery pack.
A continuously variable transmission routes the engine’s power to the front wheels.
The EPA rates the 2013 Toyota Prius c’s fuel consumption at one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline for every 53 miles traveled in the city, 46 on the highway, and 50 combined. With its 9.5-gallon fuel tank, the Prius c has a theoretical range of 503.5 miles on the highway.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Driving Impressions
Driving the Prius c around town is really no different than driving its larger Prius siblings for the most part. While the c gives up some 35 horsepower in comparison, it also enjoys a minimum of a 542-pound weight advantage over its porkier stablemates. Thus, performance between all Prius models is about on par. Keep in mind though, we’re talking about a Prius here, so the word “performance” is a relative term.
The fact of the matter is none of the Prius models are terribly exciting to drive; however of them all, the Prius c is the one that could be considered the closest to being kind of fun. Still though, you won’t set your eyebrows on fire launching a Prius c from a traffic signal. But really, in the final analysis, that ain’t what this car is all about. With that in mind, it’s fair to say its acceleration, braking and cornering are more than adequate for its overall mission in life; transporting people and their goods — while consuming as little fuel as possible in the process.
Thing is, as much as we automotive reviewers hate to admit it, the vast majority of you out there don’t care one whit about performance — unless we are talking about the performance of your dollars when it comes to getting the transportation device you desire.
On the freeway, Prius c is perfectly capable of merging into fast moving traffic—with a bit of planning— and reassuringly stable. Pushed hard, it’ll run with the big dogs in the far left lane, but what’s the point of that? More so than smiles per gallon, this car is about miles per gallon.
Taken in that light, the Toyota Prius c is a rather brilliant car, and an excellent idea.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Final Thoughts
In fact, the idea is so good; we’re wondering why it took Toyota so long to bring it to market in the first place. Although frankly, if one goes by just the numbers, Toyota did bring this car to market before—as the original 1997 Prius. That first Prius used a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor. So does the Prius c (OK, well, two electric motors). The first Prius was 66.7 inches wide. So is the Prius c. The first Prius had a 100.4-inch wheelbase. And yes, so does the Prius c.
So basically, what we have here is Toyota pretty much getting back to the basics of what its best-selling hybrid model is all about — small, efficient, comfortable, and really well equipped transportation, at a very good price. Admittedly, to get there, some of the refinement of the larger Prius models was sacrificed at the altar of affordability. The Prius c’s interior is a bit on the budgety-looking side compared to other Prius models. Prius c also rides a bit more harshly and admits more wind and road noise into the passenger compartment.
But hey, the other side of that equation is fifty-freaking-three miles per gallon in the city.
No other gasoline-fueled compact vehicle on the road can offer better mileage than that. In fact, the only Prius model that bests the Prius c’s overall fuel economy is the $32,000 Prius Plug-in. And frankly, by the time you get a Prius Plug-in nicely optioned up, you could’ve bought two copies of the basic Prius c.
2013 Toyota Prius c Road Test And Review: Pros And Cons
• OUTSTANDING fuel economy (53 mpg-city!)
• Nicely equipped
• Spacious interior
• Reasonably good looking
• Youthful attitude
• Affordably priced
• Fun to drive — for a Prius
• Cheapish-looking interior
• Slightly harsh ride
• Fairly noisy on the roll
• Kinda on the slow side
You may also be interested in...
2013 Toyota Prius c Earns Top Spot on ACEEE’s Greenest Vehicles List
Competitive Comparison - 2013 Toyota Prius c vs. 2013 Toyota Yaris Hatchback
2013 Toyota Prius C Compact Hybrid Video Review
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco: Video Road Test and Review
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco First Drive Review
Top Safety Pick Update: Hyundai Azera, Toyota Prius c, Chevy Malibu Eco Make the Grade