Prius c

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2015 Toyota Prius c Overview

If you are considering a Toyota 2015 Prius c, you're in good company. The Prius c is the U.S. market’s second leading seller among all green vehicles. It outsells every model EV, and only its big brother, the Prius, can beat its sales. In other markets where city dwellers account for a large portion of vehicle sales, for instance Japan, the Prius c is the top-selling car, not just the top-selling green car. Setting aside the fact that the Prius c is the most fuel-efficient car in the city without a plug, the Prius c offers a lot of content for the dollar. New for 2015 are sleeker LED headlights and a newly styled grille that now matches other Toyota-family products more closely.

The 2015 Toyota Prius c is a subcompact car with a hatchback-style body featuring seating for 5 and 4 doors. Think of it as more of a “2-plus 3.” This is not a car that can be used to transport 5 people on a regular basis in any comfort. That's okay for many city dwellers, and the available drop-down 60/40 rear seatbacks make the Prius c a vehicle that can be very useful for hauling gear. Being diminutive also has its perks in terms of parking and maneuvering around double-parked cars and delivery vans on crowded city streets.

The Prius c is powered by a 73-hp gasoline engine. Before you click away to find something with a more realistic powertrain, remember that this is a hybrid car, and it also has an electric motor augmenting the gas engine. In total, the system power is about 99 hp, but starting torque is more than you would expect due to the electric drive. The electric drive allows for some creeping around parking lots and in traffic on full electric power as well. However, range is very limited—in fact, it's less than a mile at under 25 mph. If you are looking for more electric-only miles, consider the Prius Plug-in, which can drive 12 miles and at highway speeds on full electric power.

Fuel economy and a lower carbon footprint are the raison d'etre of all compact green cars, and the Prius c excels here. EPA estimated fuel economy is 53 mpg city/46 highway/50 combined. These numbers are worthy of some respect. In its element, nothing offers a lower cost per mile for energy, including EVs in many markets. The carbon footprint of the Prius c is also one of the lowest of any vehicle one can buy. The c produces just 178 grams of CO2 per mile and scores a perfect 10 on the EPA’s smog rating.

The interior styling of the Prius c makes it one of Toyota's most modern models. It's not unfair to say that it has a bit of the slick Honda Civic look to the dashboard. It includes an upper multi-information display, where the driver can see the speed limit and fuel-efficiency related information. Toyota moves this to the right a bit, rather than placing it directly ahead of the steering wheel. Underneath that is an infotainment screen offering available amenities that younger urban buyers want, for example, Open Table, Pandora, Yelp, and other apps that many use on a daily basis. Controls are kept relatively simple. Navigation is reserved for the top two trims, because the younger and more urban the buyer, the higher the chance that driver uses a phone for navigation.

Toyota makes buying a Prius c as easy as possible. Rather than slick marketing trim names like "Limited" that the brand applies to other models, Toyota simply names the four trim levels One, Two, Three, and Four. The One is the base model. Toyota tried very hard to keep the price low on this trim, eliminating things like an engine immobilizer and drop-down rear seats. The MSRP of the 2015 Prius c One is just $20,760. A Four with its single package tops out under $26K.

Safety is one area where the 2015 Toyota Prius c is not a standout. It scores a Poor on the Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) small frontal overlap test. Also, it's not offered with driver aids like forward-collision prevention (FCP). Couple that with its small size and weight and you have a car that does not offer a warm and fuzzy safety blanket. If this is of concern to you, consider the Prius, which earns the industry’s top safety rating, the IIHS's Top safety Pick+, when equipped with optional FCP.


John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. In the early 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric race car from scratch. In addition to his work at CarGurus, John covers automotive news at Torque News and and is a contributor to CarTalk and BestRide. Aside from all things automotive, John loves fishing and hockey, preferably in the company of his two boys.

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Toyota Prius c Questions

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