The Toyota Prius has been around since 1997. The Prius is a front engine, front-wheel drive, four door sedan that comes only with a gas-electric hybrid drivetrain. The thrid-generation Prius came out in 2010. In 2011, Toyota came out with an extended hatchback wagon version of the Prius, called the Prius V. In 2012, Toyota released the Prius C, a subcompact version of the Prius. In Japan, the Prius C is known as the Toyota Aqua. The Prius C is a front engine, front-wheel drive, five door subcompact hatchback. I first saw the Prius C as the 2012 Houston Auto Show. On day one of the 2013 Houston Auto Show, I was able to test drive one.
The Toyota Prius was never a pretty car. The original Prius was a four-door sedan featuring a bland exterior. The Prius got a redesign in 2004 and a styling refinement in 2010. The best way to describe is unique. The Prius C is nothing special. I really do not like the front end of the Prius C. It looks like the face of a fish. The Prius C also lacks sleek side lines. It instead has a subpar side profile. The Prius C has one of the worst stylings I have seen on modern cars. In my book, the Prius C is an eye sore. The interior of the Prius C is not much better. I felt cramped in the Prius C. I did not have much leg room or head room behind the wheel. The seat was adequate in comfort. It did not try to kill my back. I have sat in more comfortable seats in other cars. The interior itself is nothing special. Upper trim levels feature Toyota's infotainment system, Entune, which is used with a compatible smart phone. I did not test this feature out on the test drive. Overall, the Prius C is not easy on the eye and the interior is bland and cramped.
The Toyota Prius C is powered by a 1.5L I4 engine that produces 73 hp and 82 lb-ft of torque as well as an electric motor that produces 60 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. The combined output is 99 hp and mated to a CVT automatic transmission. The Prius C also has a 0.9 kWh nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The Prius C goes from 0 to 60 mph in 10.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 105 mph. The Prius C has a smooth ride, but it was very noisy inside the Prius C. I drove the standard Prius in 2012 and it was quiet inside. Why Toyota decision not to add sound dampening material to the Prius C is a mistake. Also, the Prius C is just slow. I drove the standard Prius on the highway and I was worried that I was going to get hit by another car since I could not accelerate properly to change lanes or even get on the highway. Since the test drive was done at the Houston Auto Show, there was no highway driving, which is a good thing since the Prius C is even slower than the standard Prius. Prices for the Prius C start at $19,710. The Prius C is a cheap car with underwhelming performance.
Overall, the Prius C is one of the most disappointing cars I have driven. I named it my worst car to come out in 2012, and I stand by my decision. The Prius C has poor styling plus an interior that is nothing special. The Prius C has low engine output and poor performance. This was not a fun car to drive, especially since it was noisy inside. This is one of the worst cars I have driven. I did not drive anything this bad in 2012 and there were maybe few other cars that were just as bad or worse that I drove at the 2013 Houston Auto Show. Avoid test driving this car at all costs. The Prius C sucks. Yet, Toyota Prius fans might look into the Prius C if they want a smaller version of the standard Prius.
Photo was taken by a digital camera.
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