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#17

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $19,080 - $23,360
Invoice: $18,127 - $21,746
MPG: 53 City / 46 Hwy
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Toyota Prius c Performance

Test drivers say the 2014 Toyota Prius c has sufficient power as a daily driver, but that acceleration is leisurely and, like many subcompacts, the engine labors on steep grades. A tight turning radius makes it easy to tool around the city and the Prius c has composed handling, though it’s not much fun to drive otherwise, critics say. The ride quality can be uncomfortably firm on rough pavement, they write.

  • "The Prius c doesn't have the smooth ride of the regular Prius. They're different cars underneath, and the Prius c's Yaris genes don't do it any favors. It's not as quiet at cruising speeds, either. But while we unexpectedly found the steering too heavy (heavier still with the Four's optional 16-in wheels), it's reasonably precise for a car of this nature, and body roll is kept within acceptable limits." -- AutoTrader
  • "It's kind of loud, it's slow, and the ride quality can be harsh." -- Edmunds
  • "While not exactly geared for stoplight-to-stoplight shootouts, the Prius C proved fully capable of coping with both urban commuting and freeway cruising duties." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "In terms of driving performance, the Prius c is about as exciting as you might predict, which is not very." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Toyota Prius c has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. Combined, they make 99 horsepower. All models have a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Prius c gets an EPA-estimated 53/46 mpg city/highway, which is one of the best fuel economy ratings in the class and superb for a small hybrid.

Test drivers say the Prius c’s powertrain delivers adequate power for daily use around town. Most critics note that it takes time to get up to highway speeds or climb steep inclines, though this is a fairly common complaint among subcompact cars.

  • "Acceleration is comparatively slow as well, but as long as you keep your expectations in check, the C's power should be perfectly acceptable for around-town driving and getting up to highway speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “With a grand total of 99 horsepower, Prius c is not going to win any stoplight grand prix. It's fairly slow going from a stop and when you need to merge onto the highway. The one bright spot is the car's mid-range throttle response." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The Prius c's tiny engine strained going up steep hills — as do many subcompacts, like those mentioned above — and mileage dropped significantly.” -- Cars.com (2012)

Handling and Braking

Auto writers say that while the Prius c isn’t as athletic as the top performers in the class, it’s relatively agile for a subcompact car and add that a tight turning radius makes it easy to maneuver on city streets. Some note, however, that the Prius c has an unpleasant ride over rough road surfaces. Critics say the pedal on the Prius c’s regenerative brakes can be hard to modulate smoothly if you're not used to them, which is a common complaint with hybrids.

  • "We also love the tiny turning circle, which makes U-turns a breeze. The regenerative brakes may feel strange if you're a hybrid novice, but you'll get used to their inconsistent feedback in time." -- AutoTrader
  • "An unfortunate downside to the C, however, is its poor ride quality over broken pavement. Severe road imperfections cause uncharacteristic harshness and, combined with noticeable wind noise at higher freeway speeds, give the Prius C a budget-car feel." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While I wouldn't call any of the trims a fun car to pilot through twisty roads, they're more than adequate for the typical commuter." -- Cars.com (2012)
Review Last Updated: 5/12/14

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