Road Test: 2019 Toyota Prius C

Toyota’s most affordable hybrid, the 2019 Prius c, is also one heck of a versatile compact, with standard safety features and incredible fuel economy.

The 2019 Prius features black roof rail accents complemented by front and rear, silver-accented lower body guards and a color-keyed rear spoilerThe updated black side rocker and wheel arch moldings frame the wheels.

Toyota cut back the number of trim levels for 2019 from 4 to two, L and LE. Our LE tester only had carpet floor mats on the options list, everything else is as you see here!

We love the standard integrated backup camera and Toyota Safety Sense C (TSS-C) driver-assist technology, equipping the car with Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), and Automatic High Beams (AHB).

Although the “c” in Prius c stands for “city,” Toyota’s smallest hybrid is at home just about anywhere. Where the Prius c is not small is in the cabin. The design maximizes interior space with some surprising results. The 35-inch rear seat legroom assures comfort, and the 17.1-cu. ft. cargo volume behind the rear seatbacks is on par with some midsize sedans’ trunks. The available 60/40 split seatbacks maximize versatility.

It’s not just a smart size that makes Prius c highly maneuverable and fun to drive in city spaces. Optimal location of the compact gasoline engine, transaxle and power-control unit make the most of the car’s compact dimensions. Locating the hybrid battery and fuel tank beneath the rear seat puts their mass within the car’s wheelbase, which contributes to handling agility.

Because the Prius c body has such high torsional rigidity, engineers tuned the suspension to deliver a smooth ride and predictable handling. The Prius c LE rides on economical yet stylish 15-inch alloy wheels.

The body covering that tight structure slips through the air with a low 0.29 coefficient of drag (Cd). For a sporty look, the Prius c’s lower-body styling is wider below the beltline and features sculpted rear flares.

Whether driving in the city or exploring the country on a road trip, the standard single LED projector low- and Automatic High Beam headlights and LED tail and brake lights brighten the road ahead. The headlights are considered superior by the IIHS and by anyone behind the wheel, we think they’re fantastic.

The Prius c hybrid system integrates a gasoline engine, an electric motor within a continuously variable transaxle, a nickel-metal hydride battery, a power control unit (inverter), a DC-DC converter, and a step-up converter. A hybrid control computer governs the seamless application of gasoline engine and electric power depending on driving demands and selected drive mode.

The Prius c’s SULEV (Tier 3, Bin 30)-rated 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine utilizes an Atkinson cycle to help increase efficiency. The engine produces 73 horsepower and 82 lb.-ft. of torque, contributing to a total hybrid system output of 99 horsepower. 

Prius c offers different drive modes to inspire performance response. Normal mode works for everyday driving. ECO mode reduces overall energy consumption by governing the climate control system and throttle operation to help enhance vehicle efficiency. Under certain conditions, EV Mode allows the Prius c to be driven solely by electric power for up to a mile – perfect for quick stints around the neighborhood.

And to boot, an EPA-estimated 48 city/43 highway/46 combined mpg make it a low-cost, fuel-efficient means of transportation.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling6
Powertrain and Fuel Economy9
Interior Fit and Finish8
Gauges and Controls8
Total Score79

Make: Toyota
Model: Prius C
Trim Level: LE
Engine: 1.5L 4-Cylinder
Transmission: CVT
Options: Carpet floormats

Base Price: $22,955
As-Tested Price: $24,139

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