Consumer Reports: Buyers Should 'Avoid' Toyota Prius C

The editors at Consumer Reports really do not think highly of the Prius c. Since a couple months ago when they said they “can’t recommend” it, the consumer watchdogs are sticking to their guns and have listed the car as one of “five popular cars to avoid.”

Isn’t that nearly an oxymoron? The cars are popular, but really shouldn’t be? … In any case, the smallest Prius others say gets great mileage and costs less than the Liftback is being panned yet again.

Following is the blurb CR used yesterday to explain its rationale:

It’s all the buzz: a less expensive Prius with great gas mileage. What more can you ask for? Plenty. Yes, this new subcompact gets a stingy 37 mpg in city driving and 43 mpg overall, 1 mpg shy of the larger Prius hatchback. But all-around quality really drops. Related to the lackluster Toyota Yaris, the Prius C suffers from a stiff ride, noisy cabin, slow acceleration, and cheap-looking interior trim. Though it can’t match the C’s stellar mpg, the Honda Fit scored much higher in our tests and costs thousands less.

In its testing procedure, it appears Consumer Reports does not get close to the EPA’s mileage estimates. In fact, the above says the little c fell short of its EPA-rated 53 mpg city by 30 whole percent – 16 mpg less than 53, or just 37 mpg.

The 43 mpg overall CR says it got also falls short by 7 mpg compared to the EPA rating of 50 mpg combined. The EPA also says the car gets 46 mpg on the highway, but CR does not mention that figure.

And here we thought judicious driving can actually net an increase over the EPA’s estimates. Do any of you or someone you know with a Pius c experience such lackluster results as well?

As for Consumer Reports’ repeat of precautions against the c, including admonishments against its allegedly poor ride quality and cheap materials, it would seem its editors are sure.

So, if you still want a Prius, they do recommend the Prius Liftback – even a used one could be preferable, they have said.

What other popular cars ought you avoid? These, says CR, would be the Honda Civic, Jeep Liberty, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Ford Edge (V6).

Consumer Reports


  • George B

    While not a perfect car but which car really is in this price range CR has a history of hit and miss reports. After owning the C in Tirm 4 with heated softexs seats. I must say it’s a better car then I was expecting. I also have the larger wider optional 16″ alloys and take 90 degree corners at 30+mph when its clear. My last tank was 60.8mpg and all I do is drive smart and at the speed-limit on the street and 60mph on the highway. I have seen 90mpg in the city with temps at 82 in the eve with no AC use. You would be shooting your self and making a big mistake not getting one of these light full hybrid cars as a commuter vehicle. I also own a few sports cars that make high HP for the weekend so i have all bases covered now hehe!

  • Van

    It is just another hit piece in a hit parade of hit pieces, where they copy and paste the same sort of subjective complaints about the Yaris.

  • DownUnder

    “the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on”

  • Lou C. Geusy

    What is Consumer Reports doing to these cars to get such lousy mileage? I have a Prius-V and I have never gotten less than 45MPG after the first tank. I do about 50/50 city and highway driving. The people I know with the C are getting around 50.

    It stands to reason that a person buying a high-efficiency vehicle will drive the vehicle sensibly. I don’t very often get on the accelerator hard, but I don’t hold up traffic either. I think I anticipate braking more than the average driver and am able to milk the regenerative braking. But even if I drive “normally” I still get at least 44, even with the AC running.

    With CR getting only 37 in their tests makes me question either their methodology or their objectivity because I see nothing like that in the real world.

  • sskleh

    How in the world did CR get 37 mpg? I have a Prius C and I get almost 60 mpg with hwy, local, traffic, top of the limit, hills, short and long all combined. That is in real life setting. Can CR be trusted now?

  • Mike__

    I own a 2010 Prius and I recently had a go with a new Prius C while I was at the dealer for an oil change – the ride is definitely stiffer than the regular Prius, and while I can’t comment on the mileage after just a few kilometers, the one thing that struck me above all else was the VERY cheap appearance and feel of the interior materials – my regular Prius has decent (but certainly not great) interior materials, but the C really fells (and looks) bargain basement. But then they undercut the price of the Prius by thousands, so the cost cutting has to be reflected somewhere.

    It is what it was designed to be, a really cheap Prius with all the tradeoffs that entails.

  • perfectapproach

    I’ve heard that the Prius C is completely different from a Prius, so it’s no surprise that it’s not highly-rated. I’m surprised to see the Civic and the Edge on that same list though. Just a few years ago, the Civic was THE car to buy, and it doesn’t appear to have changed much (a few minor body mods here and there… the new fastback looks quite nice).

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    I rented a Gen II Prius for few days couple years ago. I got about 38mpg on my typical driving loop. Yes. I speed. I drive 75-80mph on the hwy. I accelerate to 65mph as fast as I could on my entrance ramp (unlike many other Prius drivers who merge at 45mph). I drive the Prius as a “normal” car. Typically, I only get about 30mpg on other Econ box. But the Gen II Prius was still 8 mpg better than other econ boxes. That is still 26% better other cars.

    When I slow down to typical Prius driver’s driving style, my MPG went up to 46 mpg. So, your miles vary significantly with driving style. Prius are detuned to Match the Prius driving style. If that is your thing, then Prius is perfect for it.

    I do like the Gen III Prius and Prius V. I think they are good cars and very practical. The Yaris based cheap Prius C is really a confusing product to me. I don’t really see a point of getting it. (Same with the Prius Plugins).

  • prius c family

    My husband and me have to slow traffic sometimes and concentrate on making it hit the gas mileage to get 50+ in town…and on freeway its right on 40 normal driving and 45 coast and speeds vary to keep pace. I know you guys may say you need learn how drive a prius c…but thing is we had regular prius for over 5 years and never had problem hiting 60s in gas mileage. Also this car does not start out at under 20k or 20k. Best way find out before you drive down toyota is call. I have even after owning called more then 3 dozen lots each month. and no one carrys without a 3 to 4 week wait a prius c that is 20k or below. You find 21k+ and here lately most all dealers are over 23k for 3 model.

    Best of luck.

  • pablo excobar

    I test drove a Prius C and a Camry Hybrid in July 2012 and found the Prius C really slow. From 50 to 70 seemed like it would take about ten minutes, and it was buzzing like a blender on puree. I mean REALLY loud and vibrating! I drove the Camry Hybrid and WOW! Super quiet, super smooth, and very fast! When you kick the pedal down in the Camry it seems you get this instant electric motor torgue boost that even seemed faster than the BMW I had, although it doesn’t last long, maybe 5mph then it’s over. Well, needless to say I bought the Camry Hybrid, for like 24.5k and I get about 38mpg combined and that is accelerating fast and driving 75-80 on the freeway with the AC going full blast. I had a friend who had a Prius, and it was nice, but the Camry Hybrid had so much more room and comfort, and was a lot faster with not much less mpg. The only thing I have trouble with is the eps steering on the freeway, it’s something to get used to. But other than that just a dream to drive, much smoother than the BMW 330XI I traded in.