By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The 2013 Prius C is the smallest vehicle in Toyota's family of hybrids. With a starting price under $20,000, this 5-passenger hatchback also represents the least expensive way to get into a Toyota hybrid. Yet like its bigger Prius brother, there's another number that's sure to impress: 50. That's the combined miles-per-gallon rating for the Prius C, which attains an even loftier 53 mpg in the city – the area for which this hybrid gets its "C" designation. The Prius C isn't the least expensive or most fun-to-drive subcompact out there, but its sterling mpg figures stand well beyond even traditional fuel misers in this segment such as the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Mini Cooper Hardtop, and Hyundai Accent.
If you're seeking superb fuel economy at an affordable price, the Prius C is hard to beat. And with its hatchback design and tech offerings, Toyota's smallest hybrid won't penalize you when it comes to versatility or creature comforts.
Though the Prius C is competitively priced for a hybrid, some buyers may find a conventional alternative such as the Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic or Hyundai Accent a better return on their investment, especially if they don't drive many miles. Those wanting a subcompact with a bit more scoot might prefer a Mini Cooper Hardtop or Honda Fit.
Since it was just introduced last year, changes are minimal for the Prius C in 2013. All but the base model receive upgraded material for the dash, while the steering wheels in top-line trims are now wrapped in SofTex, a leather-like material.
Driving Impressions While the Prius C is based on the Toyota Yaris, the hybrid has improved handling dynamics over its value-obsessed sibling. Credit for this goes to a reinforced...body, optimally positioned battery and powertrain components, and a specially tuned suspension. But don't get the wrong idea: The Prius C is still about high mpg, not high mph. With a 0-60 mph of 11.5 seconds, this hybrid isn't agonizingly slow, but you will need to use discretion when engaging in any dramatic overtaking maneuvers. Meanwhile, cornering grip is acceptable and the electric power steering has a surprisingly positive feel, as does the C's regenerative disc/drum antilock braking system. Ride quality overall is on the firm side and can be a bit harsh on rough roads, especially in models with upgraded wheels and tires.
TOUCHSCREEN MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM
Upper trims of the 2013 Prius C come with a Display Audio system with a built-in navigation system that features real-time traffic/weather/sports/stocks/fuel prices. In addition to the usual audio and nav functions, the 6.1-inch touchscreen acts as a command center for downloadable apps, such as Pandora, that are part of Toyota's Entune infotainment technology.
That's the EPA combined city/highway fuel economy rating for the 2013 Prius C. With its "city" rating even higher at 53 mpg, you'd have to buy a plug-in vehicle to outperform the Prius C's fuel economy.
The C's Prius family resemblance is evident inside the hybrid's surprisingly spacious cabin. The most notable ties are in the offset positioning of the main gauge display and the multifunction steering wheel that carries over directly from the larger Prius liftback sedan. Up front, the Prius C has comfortable and supportive bucket seats. In back is a rear bench that can accommodate a pair of average-size adults or three kids. The rear seat folds to nearly double the capacity of the hatchback's already generous 17.1-cubic-foot cargo bay. Top-line models have leather-like SofTex seating, while the others feature fabric.Exterior
Though based on the Yaris platform, the Toyota Prius C has its own identity and exterior traits that define it as a member of the Prius family, albeit one that's over a foot and a half shorter than the standard Prius liftback. Among those visual cues are sweeping headlights, long and vertical taillights, and window design that includes a stylish boomerang shape within the rear doors. The 2013 Prius C comes with 15-inch wheels, with One, Two, and Three trims shod with steel wheels and wheel covers. Top-line Four models wear 8-spoke alloy wheels and further distinguish themselves with fog lights up front.
The 2013 Prius C comes in four trims, simply named One, Two, Three, and Four. Even the sub-$20,000 One model is quite well-equipped with automatic climate control, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD audio unit with auxiliary and USB inputs and Bluetooth streaming, and keyless entry. Prius C Two models add cruise control, 60/40 split folding rear seats in lieu of a one-piece design, a 6-speaker audio system, and a cargo cover. Prius C Three trims include Display Audio navigation unit with the Entune infotainment system, and top-line Four models have aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lights, SofTex-trimmed upholstery, and heated front seats.
The 2013 Prius C is essentially preconfigured in four equipment-specific trims, so options are minimal and confined to the upper two trim levels. Among the extras that can be had in Prius C Three and Four models are a power moonroof and upgraded wheels. For the latter, the Three model can be fitted with 15-inch, 8-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, while the Four model can be upgraded with 16-inch versions.
The Prius C is powered by a similar but smaller version of the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system used in the larger Prius liftback. The Prius C teams a 73-horsepower/1.5-liter Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder gasoline engine with a smaller, lighter 60-horsepower drive motor energized by a compact nickel-metal hydride battery located beneath the rear seat. In total, the gas/electric pairing supplies an adequate 99 horsepower. All Prius C models have a CVT automatic transmission, are front-wheel drive, and use regular unleaded gasoline. The Prius C offers three drive modes: Normal, Eco, and EV. Eco mode adjusts throttle response and climate control to maximize efficiency, while EV mode allows you to drive short distances (less than a mile) at speeds below 25 mph on electric power alone.
1.5-liter inline-4 + 45-kilowatt Electric Motor and 0.87kWh battery pack
73 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm/60 horsepower (99 net system horsepower)
82 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm/125 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 53/46 mpg
With a starting price of just under $20,000, the 2013 Toyota Prius C is a high-mileage hybrid that doesn't cost much more than a comparably equipped economy-car. Even a loaded Prius C Four only reaches around $25,000. The Prius C's starting price is about $5,000 less than that of the traditional Prius liftback sedan. While it's certainly possible to buy a gasoline-powered competitor such as a Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, or Mazda2 for less, nothing on the market without plug-in capability can touch the Prius C's fuel economy. Depending on how many miles you rack up and if gasoline rises above the $4/gallon level, that can pencil out to an advantage over the years, never mind the good mood that getting 50 mpg can foster. Like others in Toyota's family of hybrids, the Prius C is expected to hold its value well in the years ahead.
By Proudface (MD) on Saturday, October 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas mileage, dependable"
Cons: "slow, no bells and whistles"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car has been great for getting all of the small parking spaces that others can't get in the city. It is fast when it needs to be but about 50mpg. It is super quiet like other hybrids. Doesn't have all of the bells and whistles, but it has blue tooth. Looks very sporty. Back seat is small, but not as small as the IQ, smart car, fiat, or other cars of its type."
By WelcomeHomeChrisCars (NM) on Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Saving Planet. Design, Economy, Versatile, Cute!"
Cons: "Not a Ferrari"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am a Realtor and of course I do a lot of city, stop and go, and short trip driving. When I went shopping for a hybrid or other high mpg (fuel efficient) car I started out looking at used hybrids or new, small econ cars. I really wanted to keep it below $20,000 AND have incredible gas mileage. After several weeks of test driving and frustration I discovered the Prius C - What a great value compared to the standard Prius! I estimate that I am saving about $150 a month in gas expense vs my (Turbo)Subaru. Years down the road when my car payment is done this will make a huge difference in my quality of life - that extra $150 to $200 a month! For maximum fuel efficiency, the acceleration takes some getting used to, physically and psychologically. I had an Audi A4 years ago, and then a Subaru with a turbo. So, I was used to having power and superior handling at my fingertips. There is enough power, when needed, in this vehicle - but the whole dynamic is different and a driver needs to anticipate acceleration when possible. However, cluing in to the gauges and learning how to get maximum efficiency has, in general, changed my driving style. It's fun to challenge myself and try to get 59 mgp on the flat, short trips. Long down-hills, like coming out of the mountains or off the foothills, it's WAY FUN to see the trip meter read at 78 to 99 mpg. The handling of the "C" class I found far superior to the older, (used), regular Prius versions. (I test drove several) and the turning radius, control, and steering is GREAT in this car. Aside from lacking pure, raw acceleration this baby DOES drive like a little sports car at city street speeds (15-45). It's not so impressive on the highway but performed better than several Honda's (stiff, bumpy ride), the Ford Fiesta, anything from Kia or Hyundai. Cabin design and the split-seat hatchback are incredibly versatile, and I've been able to get all kinds of large or bulky items into my Prius C with no problem at all. I even moved a medium size piece of antique furniture! Overall, I am happy with the Toyota Prius C - but the proof will be in the pudding long term. If I am still praising the quality in 5-10 years, and watching my gas dollars go farther than anyone else as gas approaches $5 a gallon again (it will), I expect my satisfaction with this vehicle to only grow from here."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Mike (FL) on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage, reliable, easy to maintain"
Cons: "Sluggish, uncomfortable seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"If you are looking for basic, reliable and economic transportation look no further, if you want a sports car look elsewhere. Gas mileage in the city (Miami) averages around 50 mpg. On long highway trips I get about 46 - 50 mpg depending on speed an AC usage. The care seems very reliable and is easy to work on (oil changes, plugs, brakes, etc.). The seats are not the most comfortable. The layout is good, roomy interior, enough leg room. The engine is a bit sluggish when you really need acceleration but that's to be expected."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Lee (NC) on Thursday, October 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Saving in fuel fantastic. Loaded with options."
Cons: "Leg space in back if front seats all way back."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Good value for small comfortable riding vehicle. Back seating a little cramped if long legged people in front seats. For short trips (8 hours or less) the vehicle is great for the trip. I haven't gone longer but don't see a problem. West Virginia Mountain traveling, the MPG goes to 48-50 MPG. Plenty of power to climb the mountain highways."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By zoe (CA) on Wednesday, October 09, 2013
I don't own this caroverall rating 7 of 10rating details
Cons: "Hard seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I rented this car for a trip from San Diego to Tucson and back, a distance of about 450 miles. It took ONE tank of gas to get to Tucson, the light was flashing at me when I drove into town. The trip back took more. The car had 22,000 miles on it, and there was quite a bit of wind noise and rattles. Without stopping to read the owner's manual, it took me until I was almost home to find the gauge with the outside temperature. It is located by the shifter, and I was looking on the mirror, window, and dash which seems more logical. Also, I never did find a direction indicator. The seat was very uncomfortable for a long drive, something this car should shine at. There is nothing plush or upscale or cushy about the interior, it is bare-bones."
By Epic Red (CA) on Thursday, August 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fuel mileage, fun to drive, great technology"
Cons: "no auto headlights and no rear view camera"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"2013 Prius C version 3. Car is a dream to drive with gas mileage that's unbelievable even over my previous vehicle, the Corolla. Averaging about 55 mpg combined, usually over 60 in the city. Model 3 has the on screen navigation and Etunes. There may be too much tech on this car as I'm often distracted by it. Two options I wish it had and can't understand why Toyota didn't include is automatic headlines (the Corolla had this standard), and a rear backing camera which I guess the Australian versions had."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful