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.
KBB Expert Ratings
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.