First Look: Toyota’s 53 mpg City Prius c Hatchback

By Paul Riegler on 12 January 2012
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The new Toyota Prius c gets an astounding 53 mpg (4.43 l/100 km) in city driving, a figure that is the highest fuel economy rating for any non plug-in vehicle.  The Prius c is the fourth member of the Prius family, which includes the Prius, the new Prius v, and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which will become available at dealerships early this year.

Toyota sees the “c” as its city car both in size and fuel economy.  Its fuel economy is actually better in urban areas than on the highway, where it gets 46 mpg (5.11 l/100 km).   The “c” is 157.3” long versus 176.4” for the 2012 Prius.

To fit the Hybrid Synergy Drive from the Prius into the smaller c platform, Toyota had to redesign the system’s major components to reduce both weight and size.

Toyota plans a list price of under $19,000 and this includes a standard 3.5” color TFT multi-information display, Bluetooth telephony, and a USB port with iPod connectivity.  A Display Audio system with navigation and Entune is optional.  A multi-function steering wheel controls audio, telephone, and climate systems.  Keyless start-stop allows the driver open the door and start the vehicle without having to take the key out of his pocket.

The Prius c is powered by a 1.5-liter I-4 that develops 73 hp and 82 pound-feet of torque in combination with an electric motor for a total of 99 hp.  The Hybrid Synergy Drive integrates the engine, motor, a 144 volt nickel-metal hydride battery, an inverter, a DC-DC converter, a step-up converter, a hybrid control computer, and a continuously variable transmission.

Three driving modes are available, normal, eco, and EV (electric vehicle).  The c can go up to one mile on electric power alone.