Yes, cents rather than sense… this baby Prius is cheap as chips and it is remarkably cheap to run.
Cents baby, cents.
How cheap? The “One” comes stripped for $18,950. Add some goodies (like cruise control) and you get the “Two” for $19,900. See where this is going? The “Three” starts at $21,635 and the nearly loaded “Four” goes for $23,235. We played with Prius C’s with the One and Two trim levels in Austin, Texas.
That place friggin’ rocked! Lots of live music, cheap-o drinking specials and a crap-load of eye-candy… Austin, TX is my new favorite T-Haus city.
The 2012 Toyota Prius C ain’t fast. We were told (and completely believe) that the 2012 Toyota Prius C runs 0 to 60 mph in 11.5 seconds. That’s in the ballpark of various econo-boxes like the CVT equipped Nissan Versa. Toyota says, “All Prius c models will be equipped with a Hybrid Synergy Drive 1.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve engine with VVT-i, a 60 hp permanent magnet AC synchronous motor, and a 144 volt nickel-metal hydride battery which generates 25.9 hp of electric propulsion for a total hybrid system net output of 99 horsepower.” – – Toyota USA Newsroom
That power-plant is bolted to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which forces the engine to buzz and rev – often.
Toyota eliminated all of the drive belts. Even the water-pump is now electrically powered – this, along with the A/C and electric power steering, no longer sap power from the wee-little engine. Going all electric with these components mitigates the need to fire up the engine at stops when you’re running the air conditioning, among other things.
Combine the electronic wizardry with an incredibly low drag coefficient and weighing under 2,500 lbs, you get a vehicle that can get 53 mpg city, 46 mpg highway and a whopping 50 mpg combined. Even while driving like a baboon after sucking down 10 Redbulls – I still maintained nearly 45 mpg. The overall mpg is the highest of any non-plug-in vehicle.
The funny thing is: all of this big-brain engineering will be lost on most consumers who drive this car.
Other than its animated hybrid info display and quiet power source, it feels a lot like a firmed-up Yaris. That’s partially because it shares its pan with the Yaris (hell, it’s known as a Yaris hybrid in Europe – beacuse Europeans are cooler than us) and because of the simplistic overall feel. That’s not a bad thing for many.
Toyota placed the battery pack under the rear seat which frees up space in the cabin. In some ways, it’s more utilitarian than the regular Prius. The rear seats (optional 60/40 split back) fold nearly flat. With the seats up, there is 15.1 cubic feet of cargo room. That’s not too shabby.
As for comfort: well the seats can hold my bog ass, but the ride harshness still transmits through the cushions. I’m sure a younger derrière can handle the giggling better than me. At least head and legroom are impressive up front. Back seat space is okay for two and A-O-K for a few rug-rat seats. In fact: as a small family car for the city dweller, you could do a hell of a lot worse.
One of the Toyota people we talked to mentioned that Toyota isn’t building cars for journalists, they are built for consumers. Other than a harsh-ish ride and numb steering, I understand how Toyota positioned this car. It’s not an expensive hatchback; rather, it’s a cheap Prius. Cheap as chips baby.
Enjoy the video!