2013 Toyota Prius c

Toyota's Prius c is the smallest, least expensive and most fuel-efficient member of the Prius family. Intended as a gateway car to attract younger buyers to the Prius nameplate as well as the Toyota brand, the Prius c offers an impressive 53 mpg in the city along with a slightly sportier feel than other Prii.

At 157.3 inches long, the Prius c is a true subcompact: it's a foot-and-a-half shorter than the normal Prius and 4.3 inches shorter than the Honda Fit , although it surpasses the Yaris by four inches. The little hybrid bellies its size with a useful 17.3 cubic feet of cargo room, which is enhanced further by a versatile hatchback configuration. Those looking for even more room should check out the Prius v, which boasts 34.3 cubic feet of stowage space.

50 mpg Combined
The Prius c is powered by a 73 horsepower, 82 lb-ft of torque 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with a 60 horsepower (peak) electric motor. Combined output is 99 horsepower at any one time (hybrids require the use of some fuzzy math). By comparison, the larger "normal" Prius uses a 98 horsepower, 105 lb-ft of torque 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an 80 horsepower (peak) electric motor for a combined peak output of 134 horsepower.

While its big brother may offer more power, the lighter Prius c is able to eke out a draw in the realm of fuel economy: 53 mpg in the city, 46 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg combined are the numbers posted by Toyota's smallest hybrid. The standard Prius returns 51 mpg city, 49 mpg highway and an identical 50 mpg combined.

Power for the Prius c's electric motor is stored in a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack that has been located under the rear passenger seat, near the center of the vehicle - a location Toyota says improves the center of gravity.

The Prius c can be put into one of three distinct preset driving modes: Normal, Eco and EV mode. Normal offers a blend of power and economy, EV mode allows the car to drive a distance less than a mile under pure-electric power below 25 miles per hour, while Eco reduces fuel consumption at the cost of power.

Futuristic Family Resemblence
The profile of the Prius c is reminiscent of the wind tunnel-influenced look of other Prii, while trapezoidal air intakes on the front fascia and vertical taillamps strengthen the family resemblance. An up-swept character line along the bottom of the door panels provides a unique touch.

Inside, the layout of the dashboard conforms to Prius tradition with a center-mounted instrument display, although a conventional floor-mounted gear lever and less-futuristic center stack design are indications of the car's lower price point. Black is used as the basic interior color while the door trim, seat surfaces, and instrument panel feature lighter colors to help create contrast.

Small Car, Big Features
Despite its diminutive size, the Prius c doesn't come up short when it comes to technology features. The little hybrid offers an optional Entune infotainment system, which incorporates navigation along with internet search capabilities, weather services, Pandora radio and more. Automatic climate control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, a Multi-Information Display, Bluetooth hands-free controls and remote keyless entry are fitted as standard.

Occupant Safety
Every Prius c comes with nine airbags in addition to a bevy of electronic safety technologies like traction and stability control systems, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.

Key Competitors
The Prius c's closest hybrid competitor is the larger, more expensive and less efficient Honda Insight. Conventionally powered cars like the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze are similar in size and price and are much quicker, but can't come close to the Toyota's efficiency.