- The new Prius c features four trim levels.
 - Base models start at $19,710 including destination.
 - Fuel economy will top 50 mpg in city and highway driving.



Although Toyota's newest Prius is a few weeks away from going on sale, interested car shoppers can now configure one online. The automaker recently released an online configurator for the Prius c, which is the newest - and smallest - member of the Prius family.

According to the Prius c's configurator, the compact hybrid is available in four trim levels. The base-level model, dubbed the Prius c One, starts at $19,710 including destination and offers a surprisingly generous list of standard equipment that includes automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a 3.5-inch center-mounted display screen, and a USB port and iPod connection for music.

Buyers interested in adding a few extra features can step up to the Prius c's mid-level Two and Three trim levels. Starting at $20,660 including destination, the Prius c Two adds a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with adjustable headrests, a tonneau cover for the cargo area and cruise control, while the Prius c Three includes Toyota's keyless "Smart Key" access, a standard navigation system and HD radio in its $22,395 base price.

Topping the Prius c's range is the upscale Prius c Four, which starts at $23,990 with shipping and adds eight-spoke alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors with turn signals, heated seats and integrated fog lamps to its list of standard equipment. Among the Prius c's available colors are an orange shade dubbed Habanero, a light green called Summer Rain Metallic and several variations on white, gray, red, black and blue.

Each Prius c model also includes a standard 99-horsepower 1.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder powerplant, which is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission for a whopping 53 miles per gallon in city driving and 50 mpg on the highway. Only available with front-wheel drive, the Prius c seats five passengers and features four doors plus a rear liftgate.

Expected to debut this spring, the Prius c is slotted below the original Prius and the larger Prius v in the growing Prius family. According to Toyota, the Prius lineup will be supplemented yet again later this year by the upcoming Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which features a plug-in drivetrain capable of running on pure electricity for limited distances.

If you're interested in viewing the online Prius c configurator and building one yourself, check it out here. [http://www.toyota.com/priusc/]

What it means to you: A new entry-level Prius makes hybrid technology even more accessible to buyers.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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