Toyota Prius c

#10 in Subcompact Cars Overall Score: 7.6 / 10
2016 Toyota Prius c View More Photos » Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
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2016 Toyota Prius c Overview

The 2016 Toyota Prius c ranks 10 out of 16 Subcompact Cars.

The 2016 Toyota Prius c's mpg rating is the second best in the hybrid class, after the standard Prius, and its $19,560 starting price makes it the least expensive hybrid you can buy ...

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SEATING


5

MPG


53

  CITY


46

  HWY

DRIVETRAIN


FWD

HP


99
See full 2016 Toyota Prius c specs ยป

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding fuel economy
  • Inexpensive for a hybrid
  • Roomy back seat
  • Rough ride on uneven roads
  • Noisy at highway speeds
  • Sluggish acceleration
  • Cheap cabin materials

Notable for 2016

  • New advanced safety options
  • Limited-edition Persona trim with unique styling

Toyota Prius c Rankings and Research

The 2016 Toyota Prius c ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact Cars category. Currently the Toyota Prius c has a score of 7.6 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 47 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

Scorecard

Overall: 7.6
Critics' Rating: 7.8
Performance: 6.5
Interior: 6.8
Safety: 8.9
Reliability: 3_5

Rankings

2016 Toyota Prius c Pictures

2016 Toyota Prius c Review

By Carter Macleod July 12, 2016

The 2016 Toyota Prius c's mpg rating is the second best in the hybrid class, after the standard Prius, and its $19,560 starting price makes it the least expensive hybrid you can buy. It's also surprisingly roomy for a subcompact car.

However, the Prius c's excellent fuel economy comes at the cost of slow acceleration. Additionally, in order to deliver all of that expensive hybrid technology for under $20,000, Toyota put in cheap cabin materials and little sound insulation, so the Prius c is noisy on the highway. It also delivers a rough ride on bumpy roads.

If you want top fuel economy at a relatively low price, the 2016 Toyota Prius c is a respectable choice. Otherwise, we'd recommend its nonhybrid subcompact rivals, which are more comfortable, more fun to drive, and have nicer cabins, based on our analysis of the expert reviews and data that inform our rankings.

Prius c Interior

Low-Rent Interior

There are a number of issues with the 2016 Toyota Prius c that make it a less comfortable choice than subcompact rivals. Perhaps most noticeable is how cheap it feels. In an era in which subcompact rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Scion iA are offering premium-grade interiors, the Prius c has low-rent, hard plastic panels and a noisy ride at highway speeds.

Roomy in Back

The Prius c's front seats offer adequate support and comfort overall, though the steering wheel doesn't extend far enough to create a good driving position, and the large glovebox limits legroom for the front passenger. If you're vertically challenged, you may have a limited view of the road because of the Prius c's high dashboard.

The Prius c's rear seat, on the other hand, provides generous head- and legroom for 6-footers. Cargo space is also decent for the class. There's plenty of space behind the rear seat for a large grocery run, and there's enough room with the rear seat folded to carry a large dog or a big-screen TV.

Tech Usability

The Toyota Prius c's standard touch screen controls most audio settings. It is fairly easy to use, the on-screen buttons are large, and there are separate volume and tuning knobs. However, some tech features aren't as easy to use. If you want to use the smartphone app integration feature, which lets you access apps like Pandora from the touch screen, you have to go through the trouble of installing Toyota's app on your phone and signing up for an account. The Prius c's 6.1-inch touch screen also seems fairly small for the class. The Scion iA has a 7-inch touch screen.

Read more about interior »

Prius c Performance

Satisfactory, but Not Satisfying

Nothing about the 2016 Toyota Prius c's performance is unacceptable – it can accelerate up to highway speeds, and its handling is fine for day-to-day driving – but it falls well short of the performance of nearly every other subcompact hatchback and hybrid rival.

Rivals Are Faster, Sportier, and More Comfortable

Ride quality is poorer over pot holes than in most competitors, including the standard Prius. The Prius c is completely devoid of driving enjoyment. Most rivals, especially the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic, are more nimble around corners. The only competitor the Prius c feels more agile than is the larger original Prius.

The Prius c’s steering feels numb, which saps your confidence when you're steering around a highway exit ramp. The brakes aren't particularly responsive either, though that's a common problem in hybrids, and you can learn to compensate for it by braking more deliberately.

Acceleration vs. Fuel Economy

The Prius c has sufficient acceleration around town, but the 99-horsepower subcompact feels extremely slow once you get to highway speeds. However, that lack of power is the price you pay for the Prius c's stellar fuel economy.

The 2016 Prius c gets 53 mpg in the city and 46 on the highway, which are the second-highest EPA ratings among hybrid cars. Only the standard Prius (54/50 mpg city/highway) gets better fuel economy.

Read more about performance »

Prius c Pricing, Options, and Trims

The 2016 Toyota Prius c is available in four basic trims, conveniently named One, Two, Three, and Four. There's also the Persona Series trim, which is basically the Two trim with distinctive styling.

One

The base Prius c costs $19,560. Whether you think that's expensive will depend upon the models you’re cross-shopping.

Compared with other subcompact cars, the Prius c is expensive. Most subcompacts start somewhere between $14,000 and $15,000. However, the Prius c has more standard features than most subcompact cars, including an automatic transmission (CVT), automatic climate control, a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and a USB port. When you factor in those features, the Prius c is fairly competitive with other subcompacts, at least price-wise.

When you compare the Prius c with other hybrids, there’s no contest. The Prius c is the least-expensive hybrid you can buy and the second-most fuel-efficient, after the standard Prius ($24,200). The Honda CR-Z ($20,295) is close to the Prius c in price, but it can't match the Prius c's fuel economy, and with only two seats, it isn't nearly as practical.

Besides some funky exterior color choices like Electric Lime and Tangerine Splash, the One trim has no factory options.

Two

The Two trim ($20,360) adds cruise control, a padded center console with a storage bin, a cargo cover and cargo area light, two-tone seat upholstery, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat (the base model's rear seat folds in a single piece).

Like the One, the Two has no major options.

Persona Series

The Persona Series trim ($21,355) replaces the Two's steel wheels and plastic covers with black alloy wheels.

Three

The Three ($21,785) has the Two's standard features plus a proximity key, push-button start, and an upgraded infotainment system with navigation and smartphone app integration.

Options include a $690 package that comes with alloy wheels and Toyota's new Safety Sense system, which has automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams. There's also a $1,540 package that bundles alloy wheels, Toyota Safety Sense, and a moonroof.

Four

The top-of-the-line Four trim ($24,495) comes with alloy wheels, a moonroof, heated side mirrors, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a rearview camera.

Options include a $990 package with Toyota's Safety Sense system and larger alloy wheels.

If you want great savings off your dealer's price, use our U.S. New Best Price Program. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

See 2016 Toyota Prius c specs and trims »

Prius c Safety and Reliability

Safety-wise, the Prius c stacks up pretty well against the rest of the subcompact class. It has above-average crash test scores, and it's available with many modern safety features, including automatic pre-collision braking and lane departure warning. Those safety features are a $690 option on the Three trim – a worthwhile investment.

However, a few subcompact rivals have better safety scores, including the Chevrolet Sonic and Scion iA. Both earned the best possible rating of Good in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap front crash test, while the Prius c earned an Acceptable rating.

According to J.D. Power, the 2016 Prius c's predicted reliability is slightly above average for a new vehicle. Only the Hyundai Accent has a higher reliability rating in the subcompact class. A few hybrids have higher reliability ratings, including the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and the standard Prius.

The 2016 Toyota Prius c has a three-year/36,000-mile new vehicle warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hybrid parts are covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Read more about safety »

Read more about reliability »

Other Cars to Consider

No car can touch the Toyota Prius c's fuel economy and price combination – the closest rival is the standard Toyota Prius, which costs several thousand dollars more. However, if you're willing to take a slight fuel economy hit, you can save money and get a much better driving experience by considering a nonhybrid subcompact.

The Ford Fiesta gets excellent fuel economy for a subcompact hatchback when equipped with the Super Fuel Economy package. The Fiesta's nimble handling and composed ride make it a pleasure to drive. It also has an attractive, high-quality cabin with a sleek, user-friendly touch-screen option.

The Honda Fit gets excellent fuel economy for a subcompact car. It has one of the most flexible cargo areas in the class; it's easy to flip the rear seats into various configurations to carry everything from bikes to surfboards. When you need to use the rear seats for passengers, you'll find that they are quite spacious for adults. The Fit also offers a smooth ride on the highway.

Compare the Prius c, Fiesta, and Fit in more detail »

Details: 2016 Toyota Prius c

The 2016 Toyota Prius c is a five-seat, four-door hatchback that is available in One, Two, Three, Four, and Persona Series trims. It is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The Prius c hasn’t been fully redesigned since its debut in the 2012 model year, so this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2012 through 2016 model years.

Standard features include automatic climate control and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, which includes a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and a USB port.

Available features include cruise control, push-button start, a moonroof, a rearview camera, navigation, satellite radio, and smartphone app integration. Toyota's optional Safety Sense system is new for 2016. It includes automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.

See 2016 Toyota Prius c specs and trims »

  • "The 2016 Toyota Prius C is the most affordable member of the current Prius family. It has some drawbacks, but for top fuel economy on a budget, you won't do any better." --Edmunds
  • "While the Prius C is fun to drive for a Prius, there are plenty of other fuel efficient subcompacts that offer more bang for the buck. The Ford Fiesta SFE comes to mind, as do the Hyundai Accent and Chevy Sonic." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Overall, while the Prius c isn't a full Prius substitute, it's undoubtedly the cheapest way to hit the 50-miles-per-gallon milestone in a new car today." -- AutoTrader (2014)
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