Toyota Prius c Technology 2015 Review
Prius c a thrifty ride for the city- Prius c is the smallest hybrid in the lineup, but the most popular, accounting for nearly half of Prius sales. For 2015, the c gets a few styling tweaks, like standard LED projector headlights and new “light pipe” taillights.
THE PROS & CONS
WHAT’S BEST: penny-pinching fuel economy
WHAT’S WORST: performance – although on par with most subcompacts
WHAT’S INTERESTING: – statistics on eco savings
Toyota Prius c Technology 2015 at a glance
BODY STYLE: subcompact hybrid hatchback
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, front-wheel-drive
ENGINE: DOHC 1.5 litre, 16-valve four cylinder with electric motor (99 net system hp)
FUEL ECONOMY: 4.5/5.1/4.8 L/100 km (city/hwy/comb)
CARGO: 484 litres behind rear seats
PRICE: base $21,055; Technology (as tested) $26,055
Some say that clothing makes the man.
On this point I’ll agree, but does that also apply to your ride?
At least one automaker seems to think so, as reflected in a recent campaign. The ad spots depict a focus group commenting on two images of the same guy in front of either a nondescript sedan or burly pickup.
Here’s what we learn about the “truck guy.”
- He’s more handsome.
- Has a firmer handshake.
- Probably owns a cool pet like a German shepherd, tarantula or rattlesnake.
I wonder what they’d say about this week’s tester: a pumpkin-orange Prius c?
This is the smallest of Toyota’s hybrids, which include the crossover-sized Prius v and the iconic liftback that went on sale here 15 years ago.
It is also the least expensive Prius, starting at $21,055 for the base and $26,055 for the Technology, as tested.
That, along with a rated fuel efficiency of 4.5/5.1/4.8 L/100 km (city/hwy/comb), has made this subcompact the most popular of the three, now responsible for nearly half of all Prius family sales.
And if you like the quirky styling of the classic liftback, you’ll appreciate the perkier look of the c.
There have been few exterior changes for 2015, other than a restyled front with standard LED projector headlights, and new “light pipe” taillights, but its tapered cabin and relatively wide lower body, along with short overhangs and pronounced wheel arches, give the Prius c a sporty stance. A prominent roof spoiler nicely caps the bobbed rear end.
But the look is more about fuel efficiency than any nod to the hot hatch. Drag coefficient is a slippery 0.28, thanks to its wedge-like profile and design elements like sharp “Aerocorners” near the front and rear bumpers to help it slice through the wind.
Power comes from an Atkinson cycle 1.5-litre four-cylinder gas engine, working with an electric motor to deliver a net system output of 99 hp. It is mated to an electronically controlled, continuously variable transmission (CVT), driving the front wheels.
Such specs won’t impress the driving enthusiast, but keep in mind that Prius c tips the scales at only 1,132 kg. Acceleration isn’t neck snapping, but is competitive with other subcompacts.
Agility, however, is respectable, thanks to a low centre of gravity.
Prius c’s heavy nickel-metal hydride battery pack is located under the back seats, near the car’s centre. Combined with a stiff body structure, tuned torsion beam in rear and MacPherson struts (with stabilizer bar) in front, handling is better than expected for a fuel sipper.
Prius c is a full hybrid and can run on gasoline only, battery only or a combination of both. Unlike a plug-in or EV, it doesn’t require any more involvement than a typical gas burner, as the system makes all power decisions based on terrain, road conditions and your motoring habits – naughty or nice.
You can, however, tweak the driving experience using Prius’s three modes.
“Normal” is ideal for everyday driving.
Eco mode dampens the throttle response and dials down air conditioning to consume less power. That’s fine if you don’t need your A/C to be ice cold, but when pulling out to pass, it would be nice to know that each of those 99 ponies is pulling its weight.
EV mode will power the Prius on electricity-only for up to 1.6 km under light throttle, and provided the battery is fully charged. It has its use, for example, when stuck in stop-and-go traffic, or for sneaking in and out the driveway without waking the kids – or your spouse.
Prius’s battery also runs the power steering and water pump, eliminating drive belts and cutting down on some maintenance.
The passenger cabin is nicely put together, although there’s an abundance of hard plastic.
Still, it doesn’t look cheap as these surfaces are textured and low gloss, and are complemented by piano black appliqués (on centre stack and door), along with chrome rings and silver finish accents.
My Technology tester was equipped with one-position heated seats up front, upholstered in SofTex material. I have no idea what it’s made of, but it looks nice, and feels better than vinyl.
Standard content in the base model includes automatic climate control, tilt/telescopic steering with audio, climate and phone controls, 3.5-inch multi-info display, four-speaker audio with 6.1-inch monitor, 15-inch steel wheels and more.
My tester received a pile of additional goodies for its $5K premium. This includes smart key with push-button start, upgraded six-speaker audio, navigation, backup camera, SMS-to-speech and email-to-speech capability, power moonroof, 15-inch alloys and the previously mentioned heated seats.
Also included is the Touch Tracer display. Sensors on the steering wheel buttons display a duplicate image of these controls on the centre-mounted instrument panel – within your line of sight.
Here you will find a wealth of information on driving habits and fuel usage, along with typical data like trip, average speed and fuel economy, and an energy monitor that graphically displays the flow of power: engine only, battery only or both.
It also provides your “Eco score,” actual fuel costs (when you enter price per litre), fuel savings and historical data for those who want to dig deep.
Some may find these features a distraction, but if you’re as concerned about saving money as saving the planet, you’ll appreciate the real time connection between your right foot and dollars spent.
Ford also has positive reinforcement with their Braking Coach and Efficiency Leaves, but Toyota takes it to the next level.
Which one would expect from the company who defined this segment, and with Prius alone, accounts for roughly one third of the hybrid market.
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