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2015 Toyota Prius c REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/6/2017

Con: Ride can occasionally be stiff; substandard interior materials; noticeable wind noise; slow acceleration.

Interior: Inside, the Prius C features a mix of the familiar with the unconventional. Gauges are mounted up high and in the center of the dash, which can be a bit odd at first, but actually makes for easier reading. Sadly, the cabin's plastics are rather mediocre in quality, especially compared with those in other subcompacts like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. This year's addition of piano black and chrome accents on upper trims does lessen the effect somewhat. The cloth seat upholstery is nothing special either, but we actually prefer it over the SofTex vinyl that is used in the top trim level, the Four.

The C's top-of-the-line audio system features a suite of smartphone-connected services that include the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio and real-time sports and stock information. Getting started with the smartphone integration system can be a hassle, though, since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account, plus you always need an active data connection to use it.

In terms of comfort, the Prius C presents a mixed bag, particularly for taller passengers. The driving position is slightly compromised by the lack of enough extension for the steering wheel's telescoping function, and the tall, upright dash can be hard for shorter folks to peer over. The front passenger may also take issue with the glovebox, which intrudes into the footwell. Backseat occupants will likely fare better, as there's ample head- and legroom for adults, and the completely flat floor allows for even more flexibility.

The base Prius C One's rear seat folds down as one piece, but Two and above trims feature a 60/40-split seat for greater passenger/cargo versatility. With all the seats in use, cargo capacity stands at 17.1 cubic feet, which is about what you'd expect from a hatchback in this class.

Body: The 2015 Toyota Prius C is a four-door, subcompact hatchback offered in four trim levels named One through Four.

The Prius C One comes with 15-inch steel wheels, automatic climate control, full power accessories, a folding rear seat, a multifunction display, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, voice commands and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB/iPod interface.

The Prius C Two adds cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a center console storage bin and armrest, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, a cargo cover and a six-speaker sound system.

Upgrading to the Prius C Three gets you keyless ignition and entry, a navigation system, smartphone app integration, satellite radio and voice controls.

The range-topping Four adds alloy wheels, heated mirrors, foglights, a sunroof, simulated leather upholstery, a rearview camera and heated front seats. The Four can also be optioned with 16-inch wheels.

Options are few. On the Three you can get the 15-inch alloy wheels and sunroof. Sixteen-inch wheels are available on the Four.

Driving: The 2015 Toyota Prius C feels a little more sprightly when driving through city turns than other Prius models, thanks to its smaller footprint and lower overall weight. It's also quite easy to park in small spaces (although you may want to skip the optional 16-inch wheels, as they significantly increase the car's turning circle). However, ultimate grip, agility and road feel through the steering wheel are notably missing when the Prius C is compared with some conventional small hatchbacks. Acceleration is comparatively slow as well, but as long as you keep your expectations in check, the C's power should be perfectly acceptable for around-town driving and getting up to highway speeds.

Naturally, fuel economy is outstanding. Outside of a plug-in hybrid, you're not going to do better than a Prius C. An unfortunate downside to the C, however, is its poor ride quality over broken pavement. Severe road imperfections cause uncharacteristic (for a Toyota) harshness and, combined with noticeable wind noise at higher freeway speeds, give the Prius C a budget-car feel.

What’s New: For 2015, the Toyota Prius C gets refreshed front and rear styling with new headlights, the company's now-signature big-mouth grille and new taillights. There are also new color choices, slightly upgraded interior trim and for the top trim level, a few more standard features, specifically a sunroof and a rearview camera.

The 2015 Toyota Prius C is powered by a hybrid powertrain that consists of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor that's fed by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Combined power output comes to 99 horsepower, and it is sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

In Edmunds performance testing, the Prius C needed 11.3 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is slow for a hybrid or even a subcompact car.

As with any Prius, however, the most important numbers relate to fuel economy, and the Prius C does not disappoint. EPA-estimated mileage stands at 50 mpg combined (53 city/46 highway), making it one of the most economical non-plug-in hybrids on the market.

Safety: Standard safety features on all 2015 Toyota Prius C models include stability control, traction control, antilock brakes (front discs, rear drums), hill start assist, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and front-seat cushion airbags that help prevent occupants from sliding under the seatbelts in a collision.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Prius C came to a stop from 60 mph in a better-than-average 118 feet.

In government crash testing, the Prius C received four stars out of five for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal-impact protection and four stars for side-impact protection. The government also posted a "safety concern" about rear passenger protection, although that concern is not reflected in the ratings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Prius C the top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, the 2015 Prius C got the second-best score of "Acceptable." The Prius C's seat and head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Pro: Stellar fuel economy; favorable pricing; roomy interior; nimble and easy-to-park size.

Edmunds Say: As the entry-level model, the 2015 Toyota Prius C represents a more responsive and affordable Prius. It has some drawbacks, but for top fuel economy on a budget, you won't do any better.

Introduction: For entry-level hybrid cars, comfort and performance have to take a backseat to high fuel economy, affordability and practicality. But for many people who are shopping this segment, that's just fine. The 2015 Toyota Prius C embraces its station in life as a fuel-sipping, easy-to-park and practical little hatchback. Indeed, we came to that very conclusion when we spent a year testing our long-term Prius C.

As the smallest (19 inches shorter than a standard Prius) and lowest-priced member of the Prius family, the hybrid Prius C has specific good and bad points. The good is that it's one of the least expensive ways to get into a hybrid. And it's no watered-down hybrid either, at least for fuel economy. The EPA estimates that the Prius C delivers an excellent 50 mpg in combined driving. Plus, the C's diminutive size and lighter weight compared with that of the regular Prius allow it to be more agile and a snap to park. The downside, though, is that the C's entry-level status is pretty evident. The ride quality can be harsh at times, and the interior is full of uninviting hard plastic. Furthermore, the Prius C is kind of loud and rather slow.

But given this car's chief mission, we don't consider those demerits to be deal breakers. With that 50 mpg rating and Toyota's rock-solid reputation for reliability and low running costs, there's really no other hybrid out there that can get you around so inexpensively. Honda discontinued its Insight hybrid this year, so that leaves just the 2015 Honda Civic Hybrid or 2015 Honda CR-Z to think about. But really, neither can match the Prius C's fuel economy or practicality. To get the best fuel economy on a budget, the Prius C is your car.

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