By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
As the smallest and least expensive hybrid in the Toyota family, the 2014 Toyota Prius C makes owning a hybrid affordable on almost any budget. With a starting price under $20,000, the Prius C is considerably less expensive than the VW Golf TDI diesel, yet it can still accommodate five passengers, has a spacious cargo area and offers more fluid styling then the Prius liftback. Best of all, the Prius C is supremely miserly, attaining a 50 mpg combined city/highway fuel economy figure. While it's not as fun to drive as the 45-mpg Ford Fiesta, the Prius C can be driven solely on electric power for short distances, making it the greenest of the subcompact set.
If you thought a hybrid car was out of your price range, the 2014 Toyota Prius C will surprise you with its affordability and wealth of standard features. Efficient packaging of the hybrid battery packs gives the Prius C a deep 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats.
Although competitively priced, you can still get more bang for your buck from such fuel efficient subcompacts as the Ford Fiesta SFE, Hyundai Accent or Chevy Sonic. Even the Mini Cooper offers respectable fuel economy and is much more fun to drive, not to mention more expressive.
There are no major changes to the 2014 Toyota Prius C.
Driving Impressions Based on the same platform that gives rise to the Toyota Yaris, the Prius C displays noticeably better handling dynamics over its lesser sibling. A stronger body...and better weight distribution are key factors contributing the Prius C's nimble handling, although when it comes to carving up the curves, the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic are still leaps and bounds above the Prius C. Because the 1.5-liter gas engine and electric motor have a combined output of just 99 hp, the Prius C will take a leisurely 11.5 seconds to reach 60 mph. Not that the Prius C is dangerously slow, but passing and rapid merging maneuvers should be undertaken with some discretion. We were surprised by the Prius C's electric power steering that delivered unexpectedly positive feedback. Ride quality, however, seems to favor the firm side and can even become somewhat harsh depending on the road surface.
TOUCHSCREEN MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM
Step up to Prius C Three and Four trims and you'll get Toyota's excellent Display Audio system with navigation. They system includes real-time traffic/weather/sports/stocks and fuel pricing updates. Toyota's Entune infotainment system is also included, allowing for downloading of such popular apps such as Pandora Internet radio.
The Prius C's 50-mpg combined city/highway fuel economy figure makes it the most efficient pure hybrid on the road. A plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt can beat the Prius' combined fuel economy rating, but you won't find one for less than $20,000.
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 2014 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 2014 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 2014 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 0.87-kWh 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 2014 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 Mabs on Friday, February 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,700overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great mpg"
Cons: "Very sluggish acceleration; seats not supportive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Having owned a Gen 2 Prius, tried the new sibling of the Prius family, the Prius C ~ which has been noted to have exceptional gas mileage of 48-50mpg. My experience ~ 50% gridlock Boston traffic and 50% highway (driving fast - not conservative) - overall mpg of 43mpg. Definitely superior gas mileage, but not as expected.....spartan front dash is simple and easy to navigate...plenty of room with the back seats folded down (more than anticipated). However, acceleration is tortoise-like at best. Very slow. But gets up to speed on the highway and can easily cruise at 80pmh. For reliability and mpg, the Prius C can't be beat. But if you love to drive, and want a more comfortable ride (the front seats are adequate, but not supportive after an hour+ driving time - no lumbar support, and strains the neck)...there are plenty of other alternatives."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Sheepdoc on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Feeling green."
Cons: "Poor cabin heat. Poor mpg in winter."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"This car gets great gas mileage in the summer - mid 50's on a 95% hwy drive of 126 miles daily. In the winter it gets in the high 30's. They tell me it's normal and because of winter mix gas. Also, when it is cold, the heater doesn't start until you have gone at least 5 miles. They tell me that is also normal. A plug in heated seat cushion is a life saver ($10 at Menards). The road noise is awful. I'm sure I'm damaging my hearing by cranking the radio up so far so I can hear it. I'm hoping a different brand of tires will help. I haven't had any mechanical problems but I hit a raccoon and that caused $1600 damage because it is so low to the ground. It is sluggish and I feel vulnerable driving on the freeway with semis."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Jimmy on Saturday, February 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPG, great turning circle, fun to drive"
Cons: "I'd like about 2 inches more leg room in the front"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"If you're looking for great MPG, look no further. Summer MPG: average 58+, winter MPG: average 44+ (exceptions: high humidity and below zero temperatures, which affect all cars' MPG...take 10 MPG off each). It's not as spacious as the original Prius (which I also owned), but it is comfortable, though tall (over 6 feet) people need not apply, and four adults and one small child can be accommodated. Highway speeds, though I do not condone speeding can be achieved, but MPG is reduced (less 10 MPG+ over 70 mph), and high winds will affect sway. Like most small cars noise can be excessive, but the radio can be heard. Owned this PriusC-2 for 19 months and no repairs have been needed. Rear seats fold down for extra room in back. Cruise control is very exact and the engine brake works well in slowing the car down, even from highway speeds."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By car guy on Wednesday, December 25, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable as all toyotas are."
Cons: "A little pricy for a compact car."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Has plenty of power for a fuel efficient compact car. Tight fit and finish. Ride as expected for a compact car. Quiet highway ride and handles well on the highway."
By Proudface 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."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By WelcomeHomeChrisCars 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."
14 people out of 14 found this review helpful