53 Reasons (46 Highway) To Buy The Toyota Prius C

Toyota Prius C
The Toyota Prius C.

The original Toyota Prius was a great concept...a ground-breaking, high-mileage hybrid vehicle for a bargain-basement price.

As the years have gone by (14 of them, to be exact), the Prius has become a big hit, spawned multiple trim levels, and the bargain-basement models are hard to find on dealer lots (and at $24,200 without options, the word "bargain" could be debated).  Most Prii have stickers at or above $30,000.

And that creates a perfect opportunity for the Prius C.

Rear view of Toyota Prius C
Toyota Prius C.

The Prius C is significantly smaller than the Prius, but still easily accomodates four adults (five in a pinch if the fifth is slender), a modicum of luggage and/or groceries and pegs the fuel economy meter with the highest EPA estimate of any car save electrics (with range extenders like the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR or without like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV)...a whopping 53 city/46 highway.

We reviewed a Prius C in late 2012, and not much has changed, apart from this one seeming to be a bit less rough and noisy.  Maybe Toyota's upped the refinement level a bit, or maybe we've just gotten used to it.  Either way, while the C doesn't meet the big-brother Prius' levels of refinement, it's by no means a deal-breaker, especially given the price break involved.

That price break is significant.  You can get into a base Prius C for $5,000 and change less than a base Prius (the Prius C One starts at $19,080).  But more relevant for the typical American driver, you can get a loaded one for about $1,000 less than a base Prius.

Interior of Toyota Prius C
Toyota Prius C interior.

The loaded one is the Prius C Four...which gets you an upgraded audio system, cruise control, Smart Key System with pushbutton start, 8-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels, color-keyed power outside mirrors that are heated and have turn indicators built into them, fog lamps and Soft Tex (Toyota's brand name for imitation leather) trimmed front seats.  And it's $23,360 without options.

Of course, being a press fleet vehicle intended for TireKickers (automotive journalists) like myself to review, it had options.  An upgraded wheel package and sunroof ($850), a security system ($359) and carpeted floor and trunk mats ($225).  With $795 delivery, processing and handling fee, the bottom line was $25,589...or $1,389 more than a base Prius with no options.

Now, that comparison matters, because, on its own, almost 26 grand for a very small car is not a very large value.  But it is the least-expensive way to get a loaded vehicle with a Prius badge on it...a car that no longer requires explanation to curious onlookers.  And that leaves you plenty of time to gaze at your average miles per gallon readout in the gauge cluster....and smile.

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