Despite its hatchback form and relatively sporty looks, the Toyota Prius “C” is as fuel-efficient and practical as the full-blown Prius.
- Year, make, model: 2019 Toyota Prius C
- Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine aided by an electric motor and battery pack
- Seating capacity: Five
- Car seat anchors: Two
- EPA MPG (as tested): 43 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. (48 mpg highway)
- Price (as tested): $21,530 ($24,350)
- Related vehicles we’ve tested: Toyota Prius and Prius Prime, Toyota Camry Hybrid
- In a nutshell: The Prius C offers nearly as much efficiency as its Prius cousin without the funky looks. Despite its small size, the cabin is spacious, its seats comfortable, and its trunk big enough to store up to three roller suitcases. The driving experience is slow but smooth, and your patience and gentle touch of the accelerator will be rewarded by incredible fuel economy. A great car for young students or anyone willing to trade speed for savings at the pump.
Our Time Behind the Wheel
Take a quick look at the 2019 Toyota Prius C and you’ll mistake it for the Yaris—and that’s because that’s exactly what it is. In Europe and other parts of the world, the Prius C is actually the Yaris Hybrid. But regardless of what you call it, we got to enjoy this little hatch for the course of a week and even took it on a road trip from Indianapolis, Indiana to Detroit, Michigan (back to Indy), and to Chicago, Illinois. All in all, we traveled 1051.1 miles and spent $57.18 on fuel.
The interior of the Prius C is rather nice and even “upscale” given its economy price tag. The front seats are comfortable for body types of all sizes and the rear seats offered plenty of legroom and headroom despite the driver’s seat being pushed pretty far back. We were able to stow two rolling suitcases and a weekend bag with room to spare in the trunk, and should you need to, you can attach to kid car seats in the rear seat. The only downside of the interior is the lack of cubbies or storage, as I often had to choose between using the cup holder for my water bottle or my phone.
The driving experience can only be described in one word: slow. Now, no one ever buys a Prius of any kind expecting a thrilling time behind the wheel, but the C struggled to merge on the highway more often than not. My suggestion? Always be extra aware of your surroundings. Aside from the lack of horsepower, which I’m quite aware helps fuel economy, the driving experience is serene and uneventful. The cabin is quieter than one might expect, and the suspension is extremely supple and enjoyable on the streets or the highway.
Many automotive segments are plagued by cars that try to do too much and be things that they aren’t. SUVs that try to be hot rods, crossovers that try to be off-roaders, and luxury cars that try to be sports cars. The Prius C knows what it is: a small but capable hatchback that although slow, it delivers on every promise a hybrid hatchback could ever make.