2012 Toyota Prius c Hybrid

At the 2011 North American International Auto Show, Toyota announced that the Prius hybrid would become a family of vehicles, with the original becoming the “Liftback” and three more being added: the Prius v (“versatile”), the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and the Prius c (“city”).

The Prius c is set to hit showrooms in a couple of weeks.  Gasoline-ElectricCars.com got hands-on with the compact Prius hybrid and was impressed with it.

The 2012 Toyota Prius c begins with some of the basic framework of the Yaris, but with extensive modifications and the addition of the Prius line’s signature Hybrid Synergy Drive system.  The Prius c gets 53mpg in the city and 45mpg on the highway according to the EPA.  Driving it in the real world, those numbers will likely pan out for most drivers.  Conscientious green drivers can expect to get more.

The Prius c is targeted for the young, active and urban or suburban market (often called “Millenials”).  It does this with sporty handling, excellent green credentials,  lot of electronic connectivity, and a low price point.

Everything about the 2012 Prius c works together to make it a fun drive.  Its stiff, low-centered framework and weight mean that it hugs the road and responds quickly with a tight steering radius and excellent handling.  The tiny 1.5L engine is a lot peppier than its size would indicate as well.  Electric-assist power steering and a beltless engine make this possible.

In the city, the Prius c handles traffic well, getting high efficiency despite stop-and-go traffic.  On the highway, it is not as economical (though still respectable at 45mpg), but has enough get-up-and-go to keep up with traffic flow at higher speeds.

Inside, electronics are centered on the Toyota Entouch system at the center dashboard position.   The large touch-screen allows relatively easy use of the car’s various built-in and optional electronic additions.  In higher trim packages, a smart phone can easily be docked through the screen using the convenient USB plug, Prius c app (for iOS, Android, and Blackberry).  This allows additional navigation options by integrating the built-in navigation system with Microsoft’s Bing Maps.  It also includes plenty of music streaming and playing options, weather checks, and more.

The 2012 Prius c  comes in four trim packages, each designated by a number of 1-4:

  1. The base package includes power windows and locks, automatic climate control, the basic Multi-Information Display, Hill Start Assist Control, Remote Keyless Entry, projector-beam halogen headlamps, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, 4-speaker sound system, Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone controls, Bluetooth and USB auxiliary outlets, rear window wiper. MSRP $ 18,950
  2. Adds cruise control, 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, engine immobilizer, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 6-speaker audio system.  MSRP $ 19,900
  3. Adds Display Audio with Navigation and Entune, Touch Tracer Display upgrade, Smart Key System on front doors and liftgate including Push Button Star.  MSRP $ 21,635
  4. SofTex upholstery, heated front seats, 16″ alloy wheels, fog lamps.  MSRP $ 23,230

Prices do not include $ 760 freight charge.  Images shown here are all from a Prius c in trim package Four.

To find out how the 2012 Prius c drives from a hands-on test, read my review on TorqueNews.  For information on mechanicals from a home maintenance DIY perspective, read my analysis on TorqueNews.

All photos were taken by me during my trip to Del Ray Beach, Florida, where Toyota had invited me to a press event to learn about and drive the new 2012 Prius c hybrid.

Gasoline-Electric Cars

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