Toyota Reveals 2012 Prius C

NAIAS_Toyota_Prius_c_006

2012 Prius c.

As anticipated, Toyota debuted the Prius c subcompact at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week to “complete the Prius family” when it becomes available in March.

Pricing will start at “under $19,000,” and it offers an EPA estimated mileage rating of 53 mpg in the city – which Toyota says is the “highest rated city fuel economy of any vehicle without a plug.” Highway mileage is 46 mpg, and the combined rating is 50 mpg,

For those of you who don’t already know, Toyota says the “c” means “city” and younger drivers are expected to make up a sizable portion of buyers for one of the four grades of standard equipment the urban-oriented car will be offered with.

As you can see by the charts, it is just over 19 inches shorter overall than the generation 3 Prius Liftback, wheelbase is six inches shorter, and curb weight is 542 pounds less.

dimensions

power

As such, it has a horsepower to curb weight ratio of around 1:25 compared to the regular Prius’ ratio of approximately 1:23 – not a huge difference. It may not out-accelerate the Liftback, but its selling price could save $5,000 or so, and its fuel economy will save a bit more at the pump also.

The subcompact uses Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive as found in its family members, and has three drive modes: Normal, Eco, and EV for short-range, lower speed electric driving.

NAIAS_Toyota_Prius_c_022

By locating the 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack and fuel tank below the rear seat, Toyota says the Prius c provides 104 cubic feet of interior volume (87.4 cu. ft. passenger volume, 17.1 cu. ft. cargo volume).

The car rides on MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear axle and will be available with 15- or 16-inch wheels. Models equipped with 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels have a faster steering ratio (2.28 turns lock to lock) to enhance steering response.

Coefficient of drag is 0.28, and while unmistakably a Prius, Toyota mentions its wider lower body provides an “athletic stance” with sculpted rear fender flares.

NAIAS_Toyota_Prius_c_020

Toyota promises a broad selection of available convenience and advanced in-car electronics features, including a standard 3.5-in. full color TFT multi-information display, three audio systems to choose from, hands-free phone capability, USB port with iPod® connectivity, and available Display Audio system with Navigation and Entune™ with 6.1-inch touchscreen.

For safety, the car has nine airbags and Toyota’s standard Star Safety System™, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).

Available paint colors include three new ones – Habanero, Moonglow, and Summer Rain Metallic – as well as Blue Streak Metallic, Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, and Super White.

Along with the Prius Liftback and Prius v, the Prius c will also be joined early this year by the
Plug-in Hybrid to round out one happy growing family.


  • DownUnder

    Can’t wait!

  • JakePDX

    Unless I’m mistaken, at 50 MPG (EPA combined rating) and a base price of $19,000, this is the best value proposition for a full hybrid in the history of hybrid cars. I haven’t been this excited about a hybrid since the introduction of the 2nd Gen Prius in 2004. Prediction: Long waits to get this car and no dealer discounts.

  • evmaps

    Though total system output is only 99hp, but “its selling price could save $5,000 or so, and its fuel economy will save a bit more at the pump also.” More people would buy it.

    http://www.evmaps.info

  • Sean Solo

    I agree. I’ve been driving Hondas since 1986, but that may be changing with the C. I’ve been scouring the internet daily for everything about the C. I’m guessing that real world stop and go city MPG will be lower, but it will still be the best out there. Consumer Reports has city MPG for Prius at 32 (vs. EPA 51), Honda Insight at 29 (vs. EPA 41), so I’m guessing the C may be around 34 for me, as I do 95% stop and go with only a 2.5 mile commute one way. Better than my 1998 Civic that gets about 22 city for me. I had considered EV (Fit, LEAF), but the prices are way too high. I can do sub-19K. Anxious for a test drive in the C.

  • Max Reid

    I am getting 49 MPG in Prius 2007 in Summer and 35 MPG in peak winter (and this is because of my short commute and it takes time for engine to heat). For sure, the Consumer Reports is bluffing and they are anti-hybrid.

    But why is Prius C getting such low mileage despite being 500 lbs lighter. I believe in Japanese testing cycle, it gets 73 MPG. May be some of our readers who buy it will say real mileage.

  • thornhale

    It’s interesting to observe the different dynamics at work:

    1.) During city driving, the most important aspect of fuel consumption is the car’s weight. The 500 lb weight reduction lead to slightly lower fuel consumption thus slightly higher mpgs.

    2.) During highway driving where constant speeds are maintained, the most important factor for fuel consumption is the Cd (Drag coefficient). Note that the 3rd gen Prius has a Cd of 0.25 vs 0.28 in the Prius C.

    This last point begs the question: In designing a car with low Cds which parts of the car are important for reducing drag? I am noticing that the front in this car is slightly more angled rather than smoot as in the Prius. Furthermore, the back of the car exposes more surface area compared to the normal Prius.

    This car is almost perfect in my mind. I am just wondering if it was really that hard to make the car 0.03 more slippery ’cause I think this 0.03 difference in Cd is what is causing a 2 mpg reduction in fuel economy during highway driving. It would have been nice if Toyota paid attention to this aspect. Or was this done on purpose to further be able to increase mpgs when this car gets remodelled.

  • Anonymous

    Why is city mileage not higher?

    This is my educated guess: Weight reductions by 20% should lead to increases in mpgs because it takes less energy to propel the car. On the other hand, it should be noted that the electric engine power output is also reduced by 15 kW. This means that the gas engine has to work harder decreasing mpgs. Then the characteristics of the gas engine should be also considered but I am not familiar to judge any of that. Nevertheless, for this iteration of the Prius C, it seems that a compromise was made between weight reduction and power output of the electric engine and cost. The result is a car that is only 3 mpgs more efficient than the 3rd gen Prius.

    I can see the following room for further mpg enhancements in the next generation:

    1.) Putting stronger but lighter and smaller hybrid components into the Prius C.
    2.) Further weight optimization (lighter components, perhaps a slightly smaller gas tank etc.)
    3.) Optimizing the shape of the car to further reduce drag in the Prius C.
    4.) Tweaking the Atkinson ICE.

    My guess is that the combination of these things (keeping cost in mind with the C) could lead to another 10% improvement. While this seems rather small, increasing mpgs becomes exponentially harder the higher you are trying to go because there are physical limits for given dimensions of a car.

  • dougp

    But will the price in Canada be crazy high for no good reason like the other Prius models?

  • Anonymous

    The attractive part is the pricing at 19K which makes this car cheaper than Honda CR-Z and also has lot of trunk space at 17 cu ft. Good that for the 1st time, Toyota is offering a sub-20K Hybrid.

    Honda sold only 31,582 Hybrids in USA in 2011 and now this Prius C will take a big byte out of both CR-Z and Insight with better mileage and similar pricing. Honda has to seriously think about their Hybrid strategy, otherwise it will be a company selling only vehicles with IC engines.

  • priusbob

    For people with short commutes, the reason the hybrid (at least Prius ) is the gas engine is on during warm up phase and even if car is warmed up for short period.

    Short commutes are killing the MPG (just as it does in normal cars, just more dramatic in high MPG vehicle). If you were to get a plug-in this would improve mpg dramatically, but again, there is a hefty price to pay for the new technology…

  • MrEnergyCzar

    Well written as always Jeff. I was hoping for 56 MPG combined. I guess with a nickel metal battery instead of lithium, higher wind drag, and a smaller electric motor system it really makes a difference.
    I wonder if the c has different tires too compared to the prius….

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Robert Fahey

    Compared with the latest Yaris, it’s:

    3.8 inches longer (length)
    2.5 inches shorter (height)
    0.0 inches wider

    I wonder if the starting price of $19k includes destination. If so, it will likely sell for $18k when dealers begin inevitable discounting. And right now in some parts of the country, the regular Prius has zero percent financing for five years. Maybe this one will follow suit at some point.

    This is shaping up well. And if it drives more nimbly than the regular Prius, all the better.

  • Nelson Lu

    reb wrote:

    “Short commutes are killing the MPG (just as it does in normal cars, just more dramatic in high MPG vehicle).”

    Actually, the effect is mitigated in high MPG vehicles, not “more dramatic” in high MPG vehicles. Essentially, you’re looking at a situation where a Prius might get 40 MPG rather than 50, at a 20% inefficiency, for example. My own Fusion Hybrid, in short runs, has similar ratios of inefficiency. But for a conventional gas vehicle, the loss is actually much higher; for a vehicle that is rated at 25 MPG overall, for example, you might end up running short commutes at 15-17 MPG. That is because the gas engine will still shut off at some point for hybrids during that short commute, while for a convention vehicle the engine will always be on.

  • C.S.

    EPA Highway goes all the way to _80_ mph and in segments exceeds 8mph/sec acceleration, whereas the Japan cycle doesn’t even come close to that. Thus the new EPA test overstresses hybrids with smaller engines like Honda’s and the Prius C. You should be able to get better in the real world (something in between the EPA and the JC) fairly easily. Although the increased drag on the Prius C will impact highway, I suspect that in real life, the fuel economy of the C shouldn’t be less than the bigger brother Prius until around 65mph.

  • Yegor

    “under $19,000” – Wow! Kudos to Toyota!

    Subcompact class in USA is 300,000-400,000 per year.
    It is very interesting to see what will be the sales numbers!

  • Yegor

    @Sean Solo.

    Most of the people get 50 MPG from Prius and 47 MPG from Insight, see Real World MPG Estimates from Drivers Like You:

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/mpg/MPG.do?action=browseList

  • Shines

    I know I am comparing apples to oranges here but I feel compelled to rag about the Volt’s price… 2 cars 4 passengers each. one is half the price of the other. At $5 a gallon for gas and using $19000 as the price difference I can buy 3800 gallons of gas and drive 190,000 miles in the Prius C before I reach the original price of the Volt.

  • Nelson Lu

    Shines, as you realized yourself, apples and oranges. Not all four-seaters are equal. The Volt is larger, likely more comfortable, has longer range, and comes with a $7,500 tax credit (more in some states) which I don’t think you included in your calculation.

    What the Prius c does, however, is destroying all legitimacy for the Insight. I can’t see any justification for getting the Insight over it.

  • Sean Solo

    @ Yegor – thanks for the link. I guess when I said “real world”, I should have said real world for me specifically, not what most will average in the real world. I’ve been tracking my 1998 Civic on fuelly.com (data since 2001). Prior to about 2005, I was getting what most others averaged (about 28) and I still get 40+ in the rare cases when I do any highway driving now, but since 2005, this car has become strictly a city, stop-and-go commuter and my MPG has been around 22 since then. So, whenever I see what others are averaging for a Prius or Insight, I know that’s mixed city/hwy driving and I know that probably won’t help me figure what my MPGs will be. I wish there was a way to filter the results so that it showed only those who drove like me (about 95% city, very short commute). I have no doubt that others are getting those higher numbers, but I’m guessing not with the same type of driving I’m doing. Either way, as I look for a replacement for my Civic, this C seems to be best option for me. Best MPGs for lowest price. Even the cheapest EV (Mitsu i) still doesn’t make sense financially once I add in a charging station in my garage.

  • Sean Solo

    @ Yegor. Ah, I see now that the link you provided does break down city vs. hwy. %’s for each person. Thanks.

  • Dan338

    Read Road and Track of Jan 2010–they tested the Prius and got very different results based on the kind of driving. In suburban driving–which probably has more highway but lots of stop and go too–they got around 65 mpg. Other kinds of driving yield 40 mpg. I don’t think the higher figures reflected hypermiling either. By the way, because of the shape of this car, highway driving significantly reduces mileage–city driving, however, should benefit more from the lighter weight and you’ll get higher mpgs than you’re projecting.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Awesome in every way! Toyota is on the right track.

    And they didn’t debut it in sky blue!

  • hybridhybrid

    another characteristic to take into consideration in terms of fuel economy is “maximum torque at low rpm”. that’s how diesel get their high MPG on highway.

    still waiting eagerly for toyota to announce a diesel-hybrid. i believe mercedes have announced one and volvo announced the v70 diesel PIH which cost a freaking bomb.

  • Charles

    I think those of you waiting for a Toyota Diesel hybrid are in for a very long wait. The economics of a Diesel Electric hybrid for a car do not work out. Remember that Toyota, Ford, Honda and other hybrid manufactures use an Atkinson cycle, not Otto cycle ICE. The Atkinson cycle ICE comes close to the efficiency of the Diesel ICE for a lot less money (efficiency being HP/CO2). The Atkinson cycle ICE does give up low end torque to get the extra efficiency, but in a hybrid that lack of low end torque is made up for by the electric motor.

    The Atkinson cycle ICE and electric motor make a very good combination for a hybrid car. I do not think the major manufactures will deviate from this tried and true combination.

  • nycsolar

    Sean, if you want to know how the Prius will fare… take a look at this article. It’s regardingthe 2010 Prius. 26.8 MPG. My family has 3. My sister’s 2007 does long commutes of 30-40 miles (over 50 mpg in Hawaii-warm temps). My parents 2007- very short drives to train station in NYC driving- erratic weather- 38-43 mpg. My wife’s 2010 – long commutes and short NYC driving- 30 mpg – 54 mpg in spring to fall- 48-50 mpg in winter.
    http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20090325/OPINION03/903250326

  • Sean Solo

    nycsolar – Excellent information (and article). Sounds like my driving habits are most similar to your parents. Thank you.

  • Top

    I too have been looking everyday for the newest hybrid / gas saver. This seems to be the winner by far, however until I choose the car I’m getting, which will be within 30 days, I will continue to look around on the web for the next best gas saver. I open my mind to all of your thoughts if and when there is a newer car that will be unveiled anytime soon.

    To me a car is definitely a investment, and with that investment I am trying to be smart about buying what’s worth a commuter car.

    Nice blog hybrid cars, keep it up. People that commute need these forums!

    Troy

  • Person

    In Malaysia, the Prius c price has been announced at RM103,000. Direct currency exchange to USD would translate to a price of roughly $34,000. Which I think is unrealistic and too expensive for folks in the US for the car of this type. So, I did some minor calculation alteration in the way the cars are priced. So, I assume the price might be somewhere between $17,500 to $18,500 range.

    Note that this is just my own personal logical method which I found by simply dividing the base price of 3rd gen Prius in Malaysia to the base price in US. And the result is the multiplier number of roughly 5.9. So, I use this figure to compare the price between 2 countries.

  • Person

    In Malaysia, the Prius c price has been announced at RM103,000. Direct currency exchange to USD would translate to a price of roughly $34,000. Which I think is unrealistic and too expensive for folks in the US for the car of this type. So, I did some minor calculation alteration in the way the cars are priced. So, I assume the price might be somewhere between $17,500 to $18,500 range.

    Note that this is just my own personal logical method which I found by simply dividing the base price of 3rd gen Prius in Malaysia to the base price in US. And the result is the multiplier number of roughly 5.9. So, I use this figure to compare the price between 2 countries.

  • PWM

    I wish Toyota would offer a lifetime battery guarantee like Hyundai is doing. I’ve had a Honda Insight since 2001 and my battery was eventually guaranteed for 10 years or 150K miles. Unfortunately for me, the battery light came on at 10 years and 4 months, and at 156K miles. The replacement cost for the battery was $5,400; probably more than the car was worth. My highest MPG was 67 and my lowest has been in the low 50′s. My current lifetime MPG is 58 mpg. Even with the cost savings in gas over 10 years, that $5400 expense was painful.

    My 10-year ownership of the Honda Insight has been an ongoing experiment. I knew a battery replacement was coming. However, it’s difficult and almost unethical to sell a used hybrid with a battery that could go bad with no notice. Before replacing the battery, my 2001 Honda might have been worth around $5,000. Replacing the battery does not bring the value up to $10,000; it’s still around $5,000. I think the conumdrum of selling used hybrids is really not discussed by dealers or owners.

    My next experiment is to drive this car till the second battery goes dead and see if I can still drive on the 3-cylinder engine alone and what MPGs I get then!

  • Norm Baldwin

    I drive 2005 2nd gen Prius. 95 mi round trip daily commute, 12 mi non-highway. ave 45 MPG winter/ 50 MPG rest of year. Have driven 245,000 mi. Still have original batteries including the lead acid one. Original brake pads, exhaust system etc. Changed plugs once. Change headlight bulbs often. Tail lights once. Dash blower had to be replaced. Uses only 3 quarts of oil per change.

  • bill

    Hey there commentor “thornhale”- Popular Mechanics very recently had an article on the topic of how extremely short (front bumper to back bumper) cars inherently have worse wind resistance than slightly bigger cars.

    cars like the smart car and Mini-Cooper and Fiat 500.

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  • bskija

    The lineup for Prius in 2012 is Prius 2, 3, 4. and 5. The Prius 1 is only for fleet buyers. To replace Prius 1 for the public is the less expensive Prius c.

  • bskija

    The things I thought I would never buy were power windows, heated side view mirrors, rear spoilers, and cruise control along with other stuff. I always thought that the usefulness of these items were not worth the price and their maintenance. Well, folks I got them all with my 2011 Prius 2 purchase. Since I’m older now and the 2011 Prius 2 might be my last purchase of an automobile I might just as well splurge.

  • Jenn

    We just bought the C II, and despite shrewd, well-researched bargaining moves, the dealer was only willing to go $500 under MSRP (he even printed out the invoice price to show us how little he would make on the sale). We were happy to get it for about 21.5K out the door.

    It got 60 mpg on the way home from the dealership; will post updates.

  • tapra1

    The car rides on MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear axle and will be available with 15- or 16-inch wheels. Models equipped with 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels have a faster steering ratio (2.28 turns lock to lock) to enhance steering response.Tech Blog

  • priuslover310

    just got my 2012 prius c 3, been averaging 60 mpg in bumper to bumper city driving, 58 mpg in regular city driving, and 55 mpg highway city combined!!!! love my new Prius c

  • Passing Through

    How in the world were you able to get 21.5K out the door for C II???

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