Sunday, May 06, 2012

Fifth Car Shopping Weekend - Toyota Prius C

Prius C 2012 Left Front Quarter View
This Saturday we drove to a local Toyota dealership to look at the current crop of Prius 2012 model year automobiles. They had examples of the original Prius and the latest iterations, the Prius V (van) and Prius C (city). The red model in this posting is the Prius C.

Basically, the Prius C is a Toyota Yaris with Prius hybrid running gear (battery, electric motor, regenerative breaking and basic control circuitry). While the Yaris is around $14,000, the Prius C is a good $6,000 more. The red one we looked at was just south of $22,000.
Prius C 2012 Left Rear Quarter View
Like the other two Prius models, the Prius C is a five door (four doors and a hatch). But as the smallest of the three, the room is definitely cramped, just like in a Yaris. The rear styling is definitely different form the classic Prius form. The rear spoiler in particular now sits at the roof level at the hatch hing, just like every other hatch-back model in existence.
Prius C 2012 Rear Hatch
With the hatch up the back has rather limited space, especially when compared to the other two Prius models. Again it looks just like the back of the Yaris hatchback.
Prius C 2012 Hatch Open
As you can see below the rear of the Prius C is definitely styled differently from the classic Prius. It's also a lot shorter, both in overall length as well as where the rear wheels sit in relation to the rear bumper. It's the same type of style used on the Prius V, and in both instances it leaves me cold.
Prius C 2012 Rear Hatch Side On
The interior of the Prius C is very much down-scale from either the classic Prius or Prius V. Instead of the electronic shifter, the Prius C has a bog standard mechanical shifter, just like the Yaris. The interior trim is very plastic and far less than what you'd expect to find in a car priced at nearly $22,000.
Prius C 2012 Central Dash and Shifter
The Prius C 2012 is the worst of the Prius models, and not worth the current asking price. Compared to the Fiat 500c, the Prius C is much poorer when comparing fit, finish and especially the use of quality materials. The gas mileage of the Prius C is rated 53 city/48 highway for an average of 50mpg, which is certainly 10mpg higher than the Fiat 500c. If you want to save a bundle go across the lot and buy a Toyota Yaris. Unless the price goes north of $5/gallon, the Prius C 2012 isn't worth the $6,000+ premium over the equivalent Yaris. Finally if you're going to purchase this particular Prius C 2012, you'd be much better served with the 2012 Ford Focus or Fiat 500c.

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