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New Car Review

2017 Toyota Prius c: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2017

Think of this as the Prius' little buddy. The 2017 Toyota Prius c is smaller and less efficient than its big brother, but it also has plenty of pluses in its own corner. It's certainly better at navigating tight spaces, and its handling feels more responsive, making it a better choice for urban environments. It also starts at nearly $5,000 less, representing a discount of roughly 20 percent compared to the cheapest traditional Prius.

So there are gives and takes within the Prius family, but it's also important to think of the Prius c as an alternative to other subcompact hatchbacks. In that regard, it'll be a little easier to forgive its smaller size, lower-quality cabin and elevated cabin noise. And, compared to such cars as the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent, you'll find that it delivers superior fuel economy and more feature content -- in particular the Safety Sense package of accident avoidance tech that's now standard.

In the end, the Prius c is far from perfect and probably not for everyone, but there's enough to like to make it an appealing alternative to both other hybrids and subcompact hatchbacks.

What's New for 2017?

Like other Toyotas, the Prius C gains the Safety Sense package of accident avoidance tech standard on all trim levels.

What We Like

Stellar fuel economy; standard safety tech; appealing price for a hybrid; hatchback convenience

What We Don't

Firm ride by Prius standards; really slow acceleration; sub-par interior materials

How Much?

$20,200-$25,000

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive Prius c is powered by a 1.5-liter gasoline inline 4-cylinder and an electric motor teamed with a battery pack. Total output is 99 horsepower, which is as little of an amount as it sounds. As such, the Prius c is one of the slowest cars on the market.

On the up side, the Environmental Protection Agency rates the Prius c at 48 miles per gallon in the city, 43 mpg on the highway and 46 mpg combined. That's great, but the bigger Prius is considerably better.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Toyota Prius c subcompact hatchback comes in four trim levels: One, Two, Three and Four.

The entry-level One ($20,200) comes pretty well equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and intervention, automatic high beams, automatic climate control, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 6.1-in touchscreen, a USB port and a 4-speaker sound system.

The Two ($21,000) adds cruise control, a 60/40-split folding back seat, a height-adjustable driver seat, a front center console bin/armrest and a 6-speaker sound system.

The Three ($23,400) adds voice-command recognition, a navigation system, the Entune smartphone-based mobile app interface and keyless entry and ignition with push-button starting (lesser models have a traditional twist key).

The Four ($25,000) tacks on LED fog lamps, 15-in alloy wheels (optional on Three), heated front seats, a backup camera, a sunroof and SofTex vinyl for the seats and steering wheel.

In terms of options, the Prius c doesn't have many. A sunroof can be added to the Three, and sunroof-equipped Fours are eligible for 16-in alloy wheels and a quicker steering ratio.

Safety

The Prius c comes with standard stability control, nine airbags, anti-lock brakes, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning and intervention and forward-collision warning and automatic braking. The Prius c Four model includes a backup camera.

In crash-testing carried out by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Prius c received four overall stars out of five -- a rating comprised of four stars in the frontal test, four stars in the side-impact test and four stars in the rollover test. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Prius C the best possible rating of Good in all crash tests but the new small overlap frontal test in which it received a second-best Acceptable rating.

Behind the Wheel

The Prius c doesn't have the smooth ride of the regular Prius. They're different cars underneath, and the Prius c's Yaris genes don't do it any favors. It's not as quiet at cruising speeds, either, and is massively slow even by the Prius' modest standards.

But while we unexpectedly found the steering too heavy (heavier still with the Four's optional 16-in wheels), it's reasonably precise for a car of this nature, and body roll is kept within acceptable limits. We also love the tiny turning circle, which makes U-turns a breeze. The regenerative brakes may feel strange if you're a hybrid novice, but you'll get used to their inconsistent feedback in time.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid -- Hyundai is trying to beat Toyota at the game it invented. The Ioniq offers superior fuel economy than the Prius c at a similar price. The Ioniq is also available in plug-in and electric variants.

2017 Honda Fit -- True, it isn't a hybrid and can't match the Prius c fuel economy. However, the Fit is still very efficient, plus it's quicker, far more spacious and generally more refined.

Used Chevrolet Volt -- The Volt is a plug-in hybrid -- and that means regular access to a charging station is important. If you have that, you might want to consider a used Volt, which offers impressive fuel economy and a range-extending gasoline engine that kicks in once the electric motor is out of juice.

Used Toyota Prius -- If the Prius c doesn't seem like enough, keep in mind that the regular Prius starts under $25,000 and comes well-equipped. Used models are even less expensive, so you might be able to get a 1- or 2-year-old Prius for about the same money as a new Prius c.

Autotrader's Advice

The Prius c Three is definitely the best deal. For under $23,000 with shipping, you get keyless access with push-button starting, a navigation system and Toyota's Entune infotainment system. Like every Prius c, you also get standard accident avoidance tech that is rarely included at this price point.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Toyota Prius c: New Car Review - Autotrader