Recently Bloomberg ran a report stating that Toyota is on track to sell over 250,000 Prius-branded vehicles in the United States in 2012. If you live anywhere on the coasts or in any urban and/or quickly gentrifying area, you might think Toyota has hit that saturation point already. In California, it seems that every other car on the road is a Prius--including most of the taxicabs. Toyota wants more from the Prius than the standard "Liftback" and the family cruiser Prius V (for versatility). Now, with the introduction of the Prius C--the C is for City--Toyota has created a smaller, less expensive, entry level Prius for the masses. Beware all other compact cars, hybrid or not: the gauntlet has been thrown down.
The C is all-new to the Prius line-up for 2012 and comes equipped with a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder, Atkinson cycle engine with 73 horsepower and 82 lb.-ft of torque coupled to a 60 hp/45kW electric engine and mated to a CVT transmission. The C produces a total of 99 horsepower, considerably less than the 134 total horsepower in the Prius Liftback. That makes it kind of the baby version of the regular, aggressively designed five-door hatchback Prius. It's shorter by about 20 inches, lighter by about 500 pounds, and is a lot more nimble than the Liftback. In order to get to market quickly and at a compact car price, Toyota took a lot of the underpinnings from the tried and true Yaris, shrank the Hybrid Synergy Drive system along with the battery pack down, and presto whammo, the Prius C.
We like the fact that Toyota has gone the extra mile to gamify the driving experience by measuring your savings in gallons and dollars as well as the driver's overall eco footprint. Knowing how much money I saved while driving the C brought out the miser in me--in a good way. We also like the way the C looks, all bulbous angles with a firm, hard stance and nicely laid out interior. It's also a lot tougher looking than the Liftback and goes a long way to appealing to the "kids" who'll buy the car.
The Drive: While the C won't win any awards for its sporty drive--it makes the larger and more powerful Prius Liftback feel like driving a 3 Series--the C is serviceable enough in the city and on congested highways to make you forget you're in a car with a 0-60 time of about 11.5 seconds. The C's powerplant labors under the constraints of full throttle, with a loud gasp and an emphysemic wheezing for power. On any sort of twisty road, the C seems nonchalant, as if it doesn't want to be thrown around at all. That said, we did average close to 50 mpg even with the dreaded affliction of "car journo-itis," wherein you must mash the gas at every opportunity, much to the chagrin of say, the car journo's wife.
We came to realize after a few days that sportiness is not the point of driving the C. The C is meant to cajole you into relaxation, where the aim and goal is to get there, safely and on time with a maximum feeling of restfulness and maximum savings for your wallet. It's not a driver's car, it's a consumer's car for those who study Zen. And with four-dollar-a-gallon gas, it's a small good thing to be meditative about the journey.
The engine is as buzzy as a hive of wasps, the road noise and NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) is as loud as a Sleigh Bells concert, and the seats are lacking in bolsters and padding. We know, of course, that this is an inexpensive compact car, but we wish a little more mind was paid to the ride quality.
The C starts at $18,950, which is $4,570 less than the Prius Liftback. The C has the same pricing and model conventions as its big brother--there is the One at $18,950, the Two at $19,900, Three at $21,635 and a fully loaded Four at $23,230, which is about $290 less than the base Prius Two Liftback. The C cross-shops with the Honda Insight at $18,500, the two-seat Honda CR-Z at $19,695 and its sibling, the Prius Liftback at $23,520.
The highest rated city fuel economy of any vehicle without a plug (53 mpg city and 46 mpg highway): check. A low starting MSRP of $18,950: check. A brand name Prius: check. The Prius C is a great alternative to the basic economy car and presents a stylish, safe alternative with amazing gas mileage. While we'd save our pennies for a Prius Liftback, some would be hard-pressed to spend the extra $4,500 or so. With good reason, too: the C, while not perfect, gets the point that sometimes driving is about the what's missing, rather than what you want.
Prius's are not really good cars, the are not as efficient as a turbo diesel, also the Toyota is very very slow. Just get a Volkswagen Bluemotion the far superior car, 73 mpg, end of discussion.
This is a very cute looking car and I like the mileage. But the sad fact is, it's too expensive and so not justified to purchase....
Every day is a new day!
Well... is it actually worth it?
Let's compare it to the Yaris, since the Yaris is in almost all size and specs virtually identical to the C.
Base model C is about $4,835 more than the base model Yaris. So you'll also pay an additional $338 in sales taxes (assuming 7% in your state), for a total of $5,173 more. There is no more tax credit since this is not a plug-in or pure electric vehicle.
Where is the break even point? Today's average gas price in the us is $3.47. Toyota's listed average MPG for the Yaris is 33, and for the C is 50, a difference of 17 MPG. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, you'd use 300 gallons in the C, and 455 gallons in the Yaris. A savings of 155 gallons a year, at $3.47 a gallon, for an annual gas savings of $537.85. So to recoup your extra initial layout of $5,173 would take 9.6 years.
I'm not sure the economics make sense in terms of just saving money. Certainly some people drive more, and gas prices might go back up, or be higher in certain areas. But it is also yet to be seen how long it takes before the battery pack needs replacement, what kind of mileage you'll get as that battery pack degrades, and if there are more or fewer maintenance expenses compared to a Yaris.
For the sake of playing devil's advocate, let's assume gas goes up to $5 a gallon for the life of the vehicle, that you actually drive it a ton ($25,000 miles a year) and that all other costs are the same as a Yaris. How does that extreme scenario affect the break even? You would now save 258 gallons a year at $5 each for a yearly savings of $1,290. That would give you a break even of 4 years. So in that very extreme scenario, a person might then break even while they still own it. But not many people really fit that amount of driving, and gas prices are nowhere near $5 in any state.
There are also a couple of other points.
1. The extra parts in a hybrid certainly do take up a lot of useful room.
2. These same parts add complexity, which at some point leads to service costs.
I owned a 10,000 dollar Chevy Sprint. If I take in account inflation, it adds up really close to the same dollar amount of this car above. All things being equal, I am more incline to believe the quality of 2012 Toyota Prius is the greatest benefit for the consumer.
The Chevy Sprint with intended planned obsolesces. If the USA ever changes their attitude, we might create an equally competitive car. It hard for our USA engineers, accountants and stock holders to get off the greed tread mill and just focus on quality.
The foreign cars are force to make better quality cars, simply because of the cost to compete with the cost of shipping them to the USA or the world and being competitive.
Now some may say for the USA business to get out of its economic slump we need to increase the quality of our products so we can compete better on a world market. Sadly, we are already do things, but because of our government’s tax incentivizes or penalties to USA businesses, they simply take their good ideas and create products overseas, at a cheaper labor rate.
The real thing we need to change it the motivational cost factors put upon business in the USA by our USA government. Of course they are stuck in the mud of in decision as they are to hang on to their positions. I love our USA, and its laws, we just need to leadership in our government.
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
Sorry, but I realy don't see the point in buying a hybrid - it's like the worst of both worlds. Give me an ICE or all electric/solar/hydrogen, whatever.
Love, Peace & Soul
I like how this car drive and handles. I had a chance to drive one last month at a local car show. It's a bit pricey for my taste and not roomy enough for my family, but I like the car and glad we are finally seeing alternatives to gas-powered vehicles.
I think that the car is overpriced.Obviously the Prius C has some good features but that doesn't still make it worth the expense.Instead of spending almost 19 grands on the Prius C to save some gas,I think its better to go for a Volkswagen Bluemotion which gives you greater mileage.
This is good for drive but not excellent. I think something is missing here.
I have a Prius 3rd gen lift back and when I first got it, I struggled to get48 mpg. After a year and a half, I have learned to drive it properly, the drivetrain has broken-in and I started using only gas without Ethanol; I now reach 75 mpg around town and 65 on the road. I will admit I won't get stopped for speeding and I don'T get in a hurry. On the same note if I do go back to my old style of driving I still get 58 mpg easily and over the life I have driven over 37,000 miles and have averaged 57.7 mpg. So someone that buys a Prius C I think should be able to accomplish as much by working at it as I did.