2018 Toyota Prius c

2018 Toyota Prius c

This subcompact hatchback is extremely easy to live with.

By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | Apr 2018

What is this vehicle?

The Prius c is the smallest vehicle in the Toyota Prius lineup. It’s designed for high density, urban areas and boasts great fuel economy ratings, a reasonably comfortable interior, and a lot of useful and interesting features.

The Prius c is an alternative to regular gas-powered subcompact cars as well as larger and more expensive hybrid models. It was added to the Prius lineup in 2012 as part of a larger expansion of the Prius nameplate. For 2018, the Prius c got refreshed exterior styling. The most significant change is a more cohesive front end design.

Who is this vehicle for?

The Prius c blends into the crowd better than most other Prius models, so it’s a good choice for buyers who want a vehicle with good gas mileage but dislike the trend of self-conscious, standout styling that you’ll find on many hybrids and EVs (including some of Toyota’s other vehicles). Like most subcompact cars, it’s designed for city living and is perfect for students, young singles and couples, and other urban dwellers who will use it primarily for short trips. It’s a little more expensive than regular compact and subcompact cars, so it’s best for buyers who don’t mind paying a little more up front in exchange for fuel economy savings over the long haul.

Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer?

The Prius c starts at $20,630, which is on the expensive side for a base model subcompact car but not totally out of reach for most shoppers. With EPA estimates of 48 mpg city and 43 mpg highway, this is a great car for city driving, and during our week-long test of the Prius c, we actually achieved highway fuel economy upwards of 49 miles per gallon, which is considerably beyond the car’s official rating. But, if you’d prefer to just get in your car and drive without obsessing over fuel economy and how much you spend to drive to the grocery store, you can do that, too. The Prius c is small and nimble, which makes parking, turning, and maneuvering a breeze.

Interesting facts about this vehicle!

The Prius c has a bunch of different settings to let the driver see real-time fuel economy, fuel economy “high scores,” averages for specific trips, and cost of specific trips (based on what you paid at your most recent fill-up).

This car is available in four trim levels, called One, Two, Three, and Four. The higher-level trims are expensive for the class (our Four test vehicle has an MSRP of $24,965) but are loaded with high end features.

Toyota doesn’t offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which may turn off some potential buyers, but the Prius c’s own smartphone integration system is easy to use and has convenient steering wheel-mounted controls.

What Impressed Us / Top Likes:

Every Prius c comes with the Toyota Safety Sense active safety tech bundle, which consists of lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. These standard features help justify the car’s relatively high base price, since these features cost extra in many other subcompact cars.

The Prius c is quite spacious inside, with enough legroom and headroom even for tall passengers.

The USB port is conveniently located in a cubby above the glove compartment, so your cord won’t have to be stretched across the center console.

During our week testing the Prius c, we exceeded the official EPA fuel economy estimates in most driving situations.

Items to Make Better (Least Favorite Things):

There are a lot of buttons on the steering wheel, which takes some getting used to. It seemed like some of those functions, like the display settings, would better off simply being controlled through the infotainment system.

The Prius c is loud on the highway. You can hear the engine over moderate radio volume, the transmission is a little whiny, and there is a lot of wind and road noise transmitted into the cabin.

The rear window is really small, which makes it a little hard to see. The rearview camera does help make up for the lack of visibility, but it’s annoying when the rearview mirror sees more of the rear pillars and roof than it does of the road.

Segment and Competitors:

The Prius c competes against efficient subcompact cars such as:

  • Honda Fit
  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Kia Rio
  • Ford Fiesta

Notable hybrid and electric competitors include:

  • Chevrolet Bolt
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Ford C-Max Hybrid
  • The other models in the Toyota Prius family

Unique Specifications:

As a smaller version of the Toyota Prius, the Prius c has few truly unique specifications or characteristics. However, its positioning as a subcompact hybrid helps it stand out in both the subcompact and hybrid categories.

  • Several other hybrid cars offer better fuel mileage, but the Prius c is a leader in this area in the subcompact category.
  • The Prius c also comes standard with more active safety equipment than many of its competitors.

Pricing and Availability:

MSRP for the Prius c One starts at $20,630 and increases roughly $1,000 per trim level for the Two and Three models. The fully-loaded Prius c Four that we tested for this review had an MSRP of $24,965. The 2018 Toyota Prius c is available now.