Review and Test Drive: 2019 Toyota Prius c LE

By Paul Riegler on 21 March 2019
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The third member of the Prius family – and the most affordable – is the Prius c, although it’s also probably the one Prius you don’t want to have on your short list.

The “c” was completely redone in 2018. It’s based not on other Prii but on the much smaller Yaris., hence the Prius c’s SUV look. We looked at what was new in the Prius c six months ago and having the opportunity to spend another week in the c made it all too clear that, outside of those who want a true small fuel-efficient city car, buyers would be better off with one of the larger Prii.

For 2019, Toyota is offering two models instead of four, the L and the LE.  The top-tier Prius C LE is reasonably priced at $23,885 (compared to the base c at $22,480), and includes integrated navigation as well as comfort keyless access and pushbutton start.

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The c’s 99 horses struggle to get from a standstill to 30 mph (48 km/h), let alone to 60 mph (96 km/h). The difference between the 134 horsepower found in the larger Prii versus 99 is legion.  It’s one of those rare cares that simply wants to stay put and not accelerate.  The ride is somewhat stiff, à la its cousin, the Yaris, and the interior – with the exception of center stack which is quite well done and good looking – suffers from the use of cheap materials, although it feels quite roomy for a car of this size.

DRIVING THE 2019 TOYOTA PRIUS C

Press the Start/Stop button and slowly we will go.  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.

Once underway we enjoyed the excellent visibility the c provides. The cloth seats were of a decent quality material and heated up nicely in the cold February weather.  We only lamented the lack of Apple CarPlay for our tunes and stored destinations.  Bluetooth connectivity worked well but wasn’t the same.

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