The 2018 Toyota Prius C
shows that fuel-stingy small cars have come a long way in recent years. With styling refreshments, it doesn't look cheap, is fairly well equipped and delivers an estimated 48 miles per gallon in the city and 43 on highways.
The top-line $24,965 Prius C I tested comes with exterior updates such as black side rocker and wheel arch moldings and silver-accented lower body guards. There's also a color-keyed rear spoiler, which is there for cosmetic reasons because the car doesn't go fast enough for a spoiler to be useful.
Not that this front-drive four-door hatchback is slow. It is fairly light at approximately 2,500 pounds, and thus its s 99-horsepower gas-electric drive system with its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and nickel-metal hybrid battery provides lively in-town acceleration and highway performance. A low .29 coefficient cuts down open-road wind noise.
There are three drive modes: Normal for everyday driving, ECO to reduce overall energy consumption and EV to let the Prius C be driven only by electric power for up to a mile.
The 2018 model has a new integrated backup camera, which goes with the Toyota Safety Sense-C system that features a pre-collision system, lane departure alert and automatic high beams.
The Prius C (Toyota uses a small "c") is the automaker's smallest hybrid. The "C" stands for "City." The car is quite maneuverable and generally fun to drive in city area traffic because a driver isn't tossing lots of weight around and has quick, rather firm steering, vehicle stability and traction controls and an anti-lock brake system with brake-force distribution and Smart Stop technology.
There are four model grades. The initial Prius C One even has such items as power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, tilt/telescopic wheel with wheel controls, automatic climate control, power windows and remote keyless entry. Higher grades have two-tone fabric-trimmed seats, cruise control, premium audio system and a power moonroof.
The body has high torsional stability and a newly tuned suspension for a supple ride and predictable handling. Locating the hybrid battery and fuel tank under the rear seat puts their mass within the car's 100-inch wheelbase, which contributes to handling ability.
The Prius C rides on new 15-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels and 65-series tires. (Larger 16-inch wheels and 50-series tires are optional). It's only 160 inches long and 67 inches wide, so tight-spot parking is relatively easy.
The quiet interior with its easily gripped steering wheel handles four tall adults, although a long-legged passenger behind a tall driver might want a little more legroom. The cargo area is large for a compact car, and 60/40 split/folding seat backs significantly increase cargo space.
My test car's heated front seats had good lateral support, but needed more thigh support. The automatic climate control's air conditioning worked well in 90-degree weather, and there was a convenient pushbutton start and a premium AM/FM audio system with 6 speakers. However, a shorter driver complained that the dashboard is rather high.
A 3.5-inch multi-information display with selectable screens for such information as outside temperature, fuel economy information and cruising range, cruise control and a 6.1-inch touchscreen with the new backup camera that's fairly easy to use. My test car also had a power tilt/slide moonroof.
The digital speedometer could be quickly read, and manual dash-area HIV controls were convenient. However, some dashboard area controls were hidden by the steering wheel, and the console shifter partially got in the way of the twin cupholders. There's a fair amount of interior cargo space, including front door storage pockets.
Safety items include heated power outside mirrors with turn signals and 9 air bags and side curtain air bags.
The hood is held open by an easily used prop rod, although it's doubtful that anyone but a Toyota mechanic would want to mess around with the complicated-looking components under the hood.
2018 Toyota Prius C Hybrid
Fuel-thrifty. Good maneuverability. Lively performance. Supple ride. Fairly well equipped.
A little tight behind a tall driver. Some controls hidden by steering wheel. Bottom Line -
A decent compact hybrid best suited to city area driving.