In keeping with its sequentially oriented trim labeling, Toyota has introduced its upper midlevel 2012 Prius C as the Prius C Three. Kind of rolls off the tongue, no? Anyhow, a smaller hybrid powertrain gives this downsized 5-passenger subcompact hybrid hatchback its go, not to mention class-leading fuel economy, while some 17.1 cubic feet of cargo room to the rear seatbacks increases dramatically when the split-folding seatbacks are down.
Look for 15-inch steel wheels, a rear spoiler and power-adjustable mirrors adorning the outside of this downsized Prius, while cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and full power accessories, including Smart Key remote entry and push-button start, endow the interior. All this is bolstered by a dash-mounted 3.5-inch hybrid performance display, as well as cruise control and a tilting, telescoping simulated alloy steering wheel. Also standard is a 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation suite, not to mention Bluetooth hands-free communications and Entune infotainment flaunting Bing smartphone apps. Finally, a single-CD player with 6 speakers, satellite radio, an auxiliary iPod input and a USB connection also come standard.
Upgraded 15-inch alloy wheels are optional for this upper-class trim, as are a power sunroof and the Preferred Accessory Package, with floor mats, cargo organizers and exterior protection upgrades.
A variable-valve-timed (VVT) 1.5-liter gas-powered inline 4-cylinder engine is at the heart of this Prius’ hybrid powertrain. Mated with the 60-hp electric motor and the continuously variable transmission (CVT), this pint-sized four-banger puts out a total of 99 hp and 82 lb-ft of torque, with mileage estimated at an impressive 53 mpg city/46 highway. Regenerative braking helps the I4 maintain a charge in the nickel-metal hydride battery, while a driver-selectable Eco mode and up to 25 mph on electric power using the EV (electric-only) mode, not to mention auto engine start/stop technology, all help maintain this hybrid’s class-leading fuel efficiency.
The 2012 Prius C Three boasts Toyota’s Star Safety System, including 4-wheel antilock brakes (front disc/rear drum), traction and stability control, front and rear head airbags, front side-mounted airbags and front head restraint whiplash protection. Further standard safety equipment includes turn-signal-integrated mirrors and daytime running lights, with a VIP Plus remote antitheft alarm optional.