Review and Test Drive: 2018 Toyota Prius c

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Under the hood, nothing has really changed. The powertrain consists of a 1.5-liter four banger and two AC motor/generators that together develop 99 horsepower paired to an electronic continuously variable transmission that drives the front wheels. With a 09-kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery pack mounted below the rear seat, the Prius c is capable of running on electric power alone for up to one mile (1.6 kilometers) at low speeds.

Make no mistake, the Prius C is no speedster. It takes approximately 11 seconds to make it from a standstill to 60 mph (96 km/h) and it feels even slower. Passing feels faster, however, thanks to the 125 pound-feet of torque coming from the electric motors on demand.

The good news is that it’s not apparent from the driver’s seat that you’re driving a hybrid. The brake pedal has little if any of that hybrid feel and the brakes were responsive and quick.

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Thanks to changes in the EPA’s fuel-economy testing guidelines, the c, which once weighed in with a 50 mpg (4.7 l/10 km) rating, now comes in at 46 mpg (5.1 l/100), which, at $21,525, makes it a less compelling choice, given that a well-equipped Prius c can end up costing slightly more than a similarly equipped Prius Two Eco.

BOTTOM LINE

When the Prius c first appeared on the scene, it made a lot of sense, given its low starting price and excellent fuel economy. Today these advantages are no longer as clear and hybrid buyers might do better with one of its larger Prius brethren. On the other hand, the Prius c – the smallest, least expensive, and slowest of the Prii – is a true city car and if you’re aiming for that and like the SUV look, it may just be the perfect car for you.

THE DETAILS

2018 Prius c Four
Base price/price-as-tested $24,965/$26,479
Drivetrain Front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine 1.5-liter inline 4
Electric Motor 2 permanent magnet AC synchronous motors
Horsepower/Torque 99 / 125
Transmission CVT
Curb weight (lbs) 2,530
Wheelbase (inches) 78.7
Length x width x height (inches) 162.4 x 68.6 x 59.9
0-60 mph (seconds) (est.) 11
Fuel economy(mpg) (city/hwy) 48/43

Jonathan Spira contributed to this review.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

 

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