Toyota's small new hybrid car will be both affordable and extremely fuel-efficient. The 2012 Toyota Prius C is rated as high as 53 mpg in EPA testing, and starts at just $19,710 (after a $760 destination charge.)
When it arrives at showrooms next month, the Prius C will be offered in four trim levels, all of which receive the same 53/46/50 mpg (city/highway/combined) fuel economy ratings. Those beat the ratings of the larger Prius, which comes in at 51/48 mpg.
The Prius C employs a new version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain with a 73-hp 1.5-liter inline-four engine, a 60-hp AC synchronous motor, and a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Toyota says total system output is 99 horsepower, falling slightly behind the Prius and Prius V, which have peak power of 134 hp from a 1.8-liter inline-four engine and an 80-hp electric motor.
Standard features regardless of trim level include Bluetooth, a color display, iPod connectivity, nine airbags, and Toyota’s Star Safety System (VSC, Traction Control, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Smart Stop Tech). The Prius C One, which starts at $19,710, also features automatic climate control, a 3.5-inch color information display, and keyless entry. The next step up the equipment ladder is the $20,660 Prius C Two, which adds a six-speaker audio system, a 60/40 split rear seat, cruise control, variable windshield wipers, a center console storage cubby and armrest, a cargo cover, and an anti-theft immobilizer.
Next up is the Prius C Three, starting from $22,395, which features more luxurious gadgets like a 6.1-inch navigation system with Toyota's Entune connectivity software, satellite and HD radio, voice recognition, push-button start, a USB audio port, and painted door handles. The trim level can be upgraded to 15-inch alloy wheels for $390, and a power moonroof can be added for $850.
Finally, the top-spec $23,990 Prius C Four adds on eight-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, heated mirrors, and fog lights. Options include 16-inch wheels for $300, a power moonroof for $850, or a combo package that nets the 16-inch wheels and the moonroof for $1150. Color choices for any Toyota Prius C variant comprise Habanero, Blue Streak Metallic, Summer Rain Metallic, Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, Moonglow, and Super White.