2015 Toyota Prius c review with video


The Basics:

Base price: $21,055 + taxes
As tested: $26,055 + taxes
Highway fuel economy: 5.1 L/100 kms
City fuel economy: 4.5 L/100 kms
Competition: Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa Note, Toyota Yaris

The review:

The Toyota Prius c is the company’s cheapest and smallest run at the hybrid market. It shares much of the same DNA and underpinnings as the Yaris… but with some flashier body work and a hybrid system under the hood. And while Toyota was the first big player in the hybrid world, it’s a market that has gotten quite a bit more cluttered in the last few years with brands from Kia to Porsche jumping on the train. So what makes this one stand out? Its sub-compact design makes it a nimble little city driver (the c stands for city, by the way) and it’s also much more affordable than most other hybrid choices out there.

imagesFirst impression upon getting into the car was that it feels larger inside than you’d expect. At 6’2, I had enough room but I certainly would not want to be any taller. My head was just about to kiss the roof with the seat fully lowered. Meanwhile, seat comfort left a lot to be desired. A lack of lumbar support had my lower back sore and tired after long drives and they just did not feel supportive. But the SofTex faux leather in our tester was comfortable and easy to clean after spills. The layout of the infotainment system is not particularly intuitive. For example, the digital speedometer in our tester was reading in miles per hour and I could not figure out for the life of me how to change that setting, even though other measurements in the car were reading in metric. Many of the plastics throughout the cabin also feel quite cheap. And in a market where even lower end sub-compacts are getting kitted out with better and better quality materials, this car seemed to fall short.

Cargo capacity, meanwhile was surprisingly good! Our trunk test revealed enough space to fit all of our standard gear into the Prius c’s petite derriere. But if you want to fold the second row down for more capacity, I was disappointed to see that it is not a flat, seamless transition from the trunk to the folded rear seats. In terms of fitting a car seat in the back seat, front facing seats aren’t a problem but if you have a child who’s still in a rear facing car seat, it renders the front passenger seat all but unusable so I’d recommend this car for families with slightly older children.

On the road, the Prius c gets around just fine, and very economically (4.8 L/100 kms for combined city/highway driving), but it doesn’t offer a lot of fun factor. The transmission shifts very late and that means the car can be very loud, particularly on hills or at highway speed.

From a safety perspective, this car has received top safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety with the exception of the small front overlap category. But its overall rating was strong enough that the organization gave Toyota a Top Safety Pick rating for the Prius c.

A new version of the Prius c is expected in showrooms for 2016 and while Toyota wouldn’t disclose any details, I’d be keen to see how its level of refinement has changed. This feels like a car that just isn’t keeping up with the competition and its higher pricetag. However, there should be some good deals coming out in the months ahead on the 2015s as Toyota tries to blow out the old to make room for the new. So if a fuel efficient, but lack-lustre car is fine by you, you may find what you’re looking for here. Personally, I’d lean toward pocketing the difference and getting into the funner to driver, cheaper, and just a little less fuel efficient Toyota Yaris instead.

The takeaway:

Family Wheels pros: excellent fuel economy, good space for front passengers, surprising cargo capacity in the trunk, SofTex leather comfortable and easy to clean, good safety scores
Family Wheels cons: expensive pricetag for hybrid prestige, limited rear leg room (especially for rear facing child seats), cheap feeling plastics throughout interior
Family Wheels target: second car for one (maybe two) child families with kids already out of rear facing child seats
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 2.5/5

Family Wheels rear passenger score: 2.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels driveability score: 2.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 2.5/5

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