Toyota Prius c, 2012: At less than $20,000 and 53 mpg, it's all the rage

James Raia

The 2012 Toyota Prius c was destined to attract a lot of attention. And less than a week into its debut, that's certainly been the case for the smallest car in the Toyota lineup and the most fuel efficient non-plug-in hybrid in the United States.

A starting price of less than $20,000 and the dethroning of its older sibling, the original Toyota Prius, as the country's most efficient fuel-sipping car hasn't hurt, either.

Add it all up and the Prius c, which debuted at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show as a concept car, is EPA rated at 53 mpg in city driving and 46 mpg in highway driving. Combined, the Prius c is rated at 50 mpg, the same as the original Prius, now in its third edition and 12 years into its U.S. tenure.

Toyota Prius c, 2012: At less than $20,000 and 53 mpg, it's all the rage 1

Reviewers still have reservations about hybrids, a lack of at least adequate acceleration, for example. But reviews of the Toyota Prius c so far have been overwhelmingly positive.


"The Prius c's chief rival is the Honda Insight, which is priced around $600 cheaper. The Honda has a more usable trunk at the expense of rear-seat headroom. But in terms of fuel economy, it's no contest , since the Insight only averages around 43 MPG. Say goodnight, Honda.

So it looks like I was wrong to doubt the whole Prius family concept. The new Prius c is an excellent addition, delivering outstanding hybrid fuel economy at a much lower price point than the regular Prius. And just like every other Toyota hybrid, it actually delivers the fuel economy it promises. I can't wait for the next addition to the Prius family… a convertible, perhaps?" —- Aaron Gold,

"When we think that this is a mighty small car we’re amazed at the room inside as well as the easy ingress and egress. I’m a guy of mighty girth and getting into the rear seats of compact cars is not one of my favorite things to do. This one was easier than most in that regard, though once inside I could feel the top of my balding head flirting with the headliner. With the rear seat back folded we have over 17 cubic-feet of cargo space.

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"We had a short drive in the Prius c here in Delray Beach, Florida. Some journalists were grousing about not getting some serious curvy road time or high-speed opportunities but after all, that’s not what this car is all about. The Prius c’s forte is buzzing around town with an occasional trip. And it does that well. Handling, performance and driving dynamics are about what you’d expect from an economy car — nothing to write home about but entirely pleasant and competent." —- Steve Purdy,

"Opening the driver’s door reveals a 21st century interior loaded with technological innovations, information and infotainment features. The thin, wide instrument panel and arrangement of displays and controls are in light colors to contrast with a basic black. It’s ultramodern looking, especially the digital display screen.

The quiet air conditioning system contains an air filter to remove pollen, dust and other airborne allergens. Naturally there are the USB ports, electric connections and special storage areas for other electronic devices and smart phones. The new C is loaded with special on-board programs that analyze data from the operation of the car and calculates esoteric information such as cost per trip." —- Marty Bernstein, Yahoo

The Weekly Driver is interested in hearing from Prius c or Prius v owners. We'd like to post your comments about the new editions of the Prius family.


Article Last Updated: March 17, 2012.

0 thoughts on “Toyota Prius c, 2012: At less than $20,000 and 53 mpg, it's all the rage”

    • That is not. Toyota hybrids employ HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive) system which absorb and store energy from more frequent braking during city driving. The car is therefore using more energy from the battery and the gas engine need not turn ON constantly. Whereas during high speed highway cruising mpg is worsened by the gas engine engaging more often to help counter wind resistance and having less energy absorbed from regenerative braking.

  1. I traded in my 2001 Honda Accord today and bought a Prius C. I couldn't be happier – I had been thinking of getting a pre-owned Prius but this one was exactly what I needed, and at the right price. The acceleration doesn't really bother me, it's a nice smooth ride, and easy to handle. I love the iPod jack and bluetooth too. In short, a wonderful car! I'm really happy with it.

  2. I couldn’t be happier with the new Prius c. If you are thinking of getting one, then do it. It forces you to rethink how you drive. What it lacks in power it makes up with technology and fuel economy. Opt for a 3 or 4 having the better options. I know it’s not about looks, but I never could handle the look of the rest of the Prius family, this one I actually like.


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