The Toyota Prius C Delivers Bang for the Buck

It’s a common misconception that hybrid cars are too expensive. Many folks believe that the initial added cost of a hybrid drivetrain cannot be recouped over time. While that may be true in some cases, in others it is not. Case in point: the Toyota Prius C. In other countries around the world, the Prius C is marketed as the Yaris Hybrid. Here in America, Toyota chose to play off the greenish glow of the Prius nameplate. But never mind the name. When you get down to it, the Prius C is simply the best Yaris that Toyota has ever sold.

The conventional Yaris is both inexpensive and fuel-efficient. In extensive road testing with two different Yaris (a 2008 Yaris S Sedan and a 2009 Five-Door Liftback), I’ve found that its official fuel economy ratings are conservative. If you drive this little critter with a light foot (and under the right conditions), you’ll be rewarded with gas mileage that will substantially exceed the EPA numbers. When I tested the 2009 model, I was left asking the question, “Is there a conspiracy to hide the fact that the 2009 Toyota Yaris five-door hatch delivers remarkable fuel economy?”

With the Prius C hatchback, the reward is amplified. The true beauty of the most efficient full-hybrid systems (like those used by Toyota and Ford), is that light-footed drivers can exploit their potential to great effect. A little bit of gliding goes a long way.

The 2009 Toyota Yaris Five-Door Liftback is rated at 29 city / 35 highway miles per gallon (MPG), while the 2012 Toyota Prius C is rated at 53 city / 46 highway (with an overall average of 50 MPG). I was able to achieve an average of 43 MPG highway and 38.1 MPG combined in the conventionally powered Yaris, while the Prius C delivered an average of 52.7 MPG on the Interstate highway and 57.8 MPG combined. I flew past the estimates with both vehicles, simply by driving conscientiously. (Note: the 2012 Yaris is rated at 30 city / 38 highway, a bit better than the 2009.)

The hybrid’s advantage in the city is positively huge, but it only begins to tell the whole story. Inspired by Chris Pirillo’s mobile vlogging, I decided to take the Prius C test car out for a small town and back country cruise, while covered with cameras. I wanted to see how high I could push the car’s overall fuel economy numbers without resorting to any dodgy driving techniques.

Can You Really Get 65 MPG from a Prius C?

The resulting split screen video (shown above) clocks in at nearly 27 minutes. If you’ve wondered how hybrid cars work and how to get great gas mileage from them, take the time to sit back and watch (from multiple angles) as I demonstrate a bunch of techniques that can be used to wring more miles out of every gallon — without infuriating other drivers on the road. Once you learn how to back off on the pedal and get your glide on, your fuel economy numbers will climb.

Some things happen automatically — like the stop/start system at traffic lights — but others can take a bit of finesse to fully optimize their potential. Rest assured, it doesn’t take a long time (or much effort) to adopt a fuel-conscious driving style. You don’t have to drive like Grandma or hold up traffic. The Prius C’s LCD dashboard provides you with all the clues you need to thwart those thieves at the gas pump.

The 2012 Toyota Yaris starts at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $14,115, while the Prius C starts at $18,950. (By contrast, the 3rd Gen Prius’ starting MSRP is $24,000.) The added cost of the C buys more than just the Hybrid Synergy Drive System.

The Toyota Prius C Delivers Bang for the Buck

There’s plenty of tech content in the C. All four 2012 Prius C models offer include keyless entry, hands-free Bluetooth, and USB and audio input jacks. Prius C Levels Three and Four feature a six-speaker, 6.1-in. touch-screen Display Audio System with Navigation and Entune and Bing. Entune apps include iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, and OpenTable.

Getting great gas mileage is all about when, where, and how you drive, no matter what you drive. The Prius C gives you all the tools you need for optimum fuel efficiency.

As I say in my full review of the Toyota Prius C at MPG-o-Matic: “Whatever you call this pint-size five-door, it’s the most fuel stingy four-passenger vehicle sold in America, when measured dollar-for-dollar. If you have plenty of road to cover, with much of it at lower speeds and in traffic, the Prius C will slash your fuel bill by a considerable amount … even more so if you make the effort to drive it properly.”

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  • Foggy

    I run a VW Golf TDI, now 11 years old, and I have regularly achieved
    75+ mpg (English) 62.4 mpg (US) over its life in mixed driving conditions: urban,
    motorway and rural. Very economical upkeep. How will the Prius do over such a period?

  • SPK

    I have 170 PS VW Passat diesel. 5.0l/100 km. It costs less then Toyota Prius and is certainly a lot better car.

    • FanKid

      5.0l/100 km is only 47mpg ..

  • http://twitter.com/LouFuszToyota Lou Fusz Toyota

    Great post. The Prius C has been one of the standout cars to come out in the past year. So much so that we can’t keep them on the lot for more than day or two here. I think people enjoy the idea of hypermiling and making a game out of seeing how efficient they can be.