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Day-by-Day Review: 2012 Toyota Prius C

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DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4

It seems as though my driving route does not really make the most of a hybrid vehicle’s powertrain. Over the week, during my regular commute, I only travelled 8 percent EV mode, and as a result I averaged only 4.8L/100km for the week. What did strike me as interesting, though, is that on a day trip to Peterborough and back, I averaged a pleasing 4.2L/100km.

So yes, you can save some fuel with a hybrid, but how much will vary greatly depending on your driving routine. This vehicle is in our long-term fleet so we will keep track to see if, with our various driving styles, it would pay off in the long run to go with a compact hybrid over a conventional compact vehicle.

*Rating out of 5:

2012 Toyota Prius C
Acceleration 2.5/5
Handling 3.5/5
Comfort 3.5/5
Interior 3/5
Audio System 4/5
Gas Mileage 4/5
Overall 3.5/5
*Rating based on vehicle’s classification

2012 Toyota Prius C
MSRP as tested (including destination): $27,000

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DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4

So last week I was driving a vehicle that many considered underpowered with more than 150 horsepower, and yet no comments this week on the lowly 99-horsepower Prius C? I guess it can be excused, as this is a much smaller car but it certainly is not fast. Surprisingly, though it feels quicker than a Yaris, perhaps due to the CVT and the extra torque that the electric motor provides.

Acceleration is smooth, but not brisk, and switching between ECO mode and normal mode simply changes the sensitivity of the throttle — actual performance doesn’t change.

The first thing I noticed in the Prius C is that it is much louder inside than the Mazda CX-5 I just got out of. But that said, the road noise is about equal to that of other sub-compact cars, so despite the price premium you are unfortunately not offered a premium cabin experience.

It has been asked if this Prius is fun to drive. I suppose that depends on your definition of fun. It is not fast, so that kind of fun is out the window, but it does sip fuel, and that part can be enjoyable. But is it fun to toss around? Yes, it is, actually, although ultimate grip levels are hampered by the low rolling resistance tires; the Prius C is small and light and this allows you to toss it into corners to inject a little entertainment into your drive.

Surprisingly, though, for a city car, the turning radius is rather poor. I’d like another half lock on the steering wheel after having been surprised a few times when entering parking spots. Today, I had to readjust my poor parking effort twice before I was satisfied, due to unexpectedly running out of steering wheel lock on entry.
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DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4

This car looks very interesting from the specifications sheet and actually when you first get inside the Prius C, the “interesting” continues but I’m not so sure it is the kind of interesting you want.

There is a lot of good interesting, like the navigation system, super-easy-to-use controls, and automatic climate control. The high-mounted centre gauge cluster, although some may hate it, is really easy to read, and nice and clear both day and night. There’s also a small screen that can be cycled through various informational displays such as hybrid system function, ECO score and trip information, giving the driver the information they want right at their finger tips.

All those features are great, but a few of Toyota’s decisions on this vehicle really baffle me. Do people really prefer fake leather over cloth? Sometimes it’s nice, but this is more like patio furniture vinyl; these have got to be the worst-looking and feeling seats I’ve come across in a car in a long time. Just put in some good cloth and be done with it. Combine this with a weird colour scheme of very light grey (nearly white door panels) and darker grey, and you’ve got a very odd interior indeed.

It seems like in an effort to save weight they removed so much material that the car sounds like a tin can every time you open and close the doors or the rear hatch. This is something that both I and my other half noticed instantly.

What is impressive is the amount of interior room, both front and back, for a vehicle that has a hybrid system in it, yet is built on such a small platform. Certainly, a lot of effort went into hiding the batteries, as cargo and passenger space do not seem affected compared to an equivalent subcompact car.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4

Lots of excitement this week behind the wheel of the Prius C, but I have a feeling the excitement will be limited to how much fuel I can save as I watch the dollar signs roll by on the screen in the gauge cluster.

That’s not the only place the dollar signs are rolling, though; this tester comes in at a cool $27,000 after freight—seems a little on the pricey side for what is essentially a Toyota Yaris that has been electrified. Maybe I’ll never “get” this hybrid thing.

At least you do get some premium features for your money, such as a power sliding moonroof, power windows and mirrors, cruise, climate control, navigation, keyless entry, push-button start and heated seats with a simulated leather seating surface—more on that later.

The Prius C is powered by a 1.5-litre engine that is electrically assisted. The two powerplants (electric and gasoline) drive the front wheels through a CVT transmission. Interestingly enough, Toyota chose to use a standard gear lever on the floor of the Prius C, unlike the V and regular Prius liftback, which use a silly computerized stick on the dash, next to the steering wheel. Most likely, this is a cost and packaging issue, but I am glad, I am not a big fan of the little “nub” shifter.

With only 99 horsepower on tap, I certainly will not be going anywhere fast this week, but perhaps I can get close to the Natural Resources Canada ratings of 3.5 L/100 km city and 4.0 L/100 km/h highway.

2012 Toyota Prius C
MSRP as tested (including destination): $27,000

Day-by-Day Review: 2012 Toyota Prius C; Day 4 -
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