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2013 Toyota Prius c Three Review | By John Heilig

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2013 Toyota Prius c Three

By John Heilig
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Bottom Line First: The 2013 Toyota Prius c Three is the smallest of the growing Prius family of hybrids, there are now 14 trims offered for the Prius, compare each of the 14 model's specs listed just below my review. The Prius c Three is also the most economical I have driven, with a road tested fuel consumption of 52.5 mpg. Yet almost nothing is lost in the reduced size, as it still has excellent cargo capacity and decent ride quality.

2013 Toyota Prius Review

Model: 2013 Prius c Three
Engine: 1.5-liter I4
Horsepower/Torque: 73 hp @ 4,800 rpm (99 total hp)/82 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: CVT
Wheelbase: 100.4 in.
Length x Width x Height: 157.3 x 66.7 x 56.9 in.
Tires: P175/65R15
Cargo: 17.1 cu. ft.
Economy: 53 mpg city/46 mpg highway/52.5 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 12 gal. (est.)
Curb Weight: 2,500 lbs.
Sticker: $23,224 (includes $795 delivery, $664 in options)

The Bottom Line: The Prius c is the smallest of the growing Prius family of hybrids. It is also the most economical I have driven with a test economy of 52.5 mpg. Yet almost nothing is lost in the reduced size, as it still has excellent cargo capacity and decent ride quality.

One of the benefits of this job is that often when you need a car with a lot of cargo capacity, you have it. Just as often, however, you also can find a small car in the driveway when you need a carrier.

Such was the case with the Toyota Prius c. The “c” suffix denotes that this version of the Prius family is intended primarily for city use. So naturally we loaded it up immediately for a 350-mile trip to our daughter’s house.

While the Prius c has a nominal 17 cubic feet of cargo, it more than doubles with the rear seat backs flipped down and creative packing with bags rather than boxes. Even with the elimination of the two rear seats for the cargo capacity, we felt we had a vehicle with comfortable driving characteristics. With the hatchback rear and two rear doors, we had easy access to all the cargo we put into the “c.”

The Prius c rides on a 100.4-inch wheelbase, 6.3 inches less than the standard Prius. Other dimensions are reduced by a similar amount. But the “c” has everything you’d want in a car, plus the added benefit of outstanding fuel economy. We averaged 52.5 mpg in our week. Normally, hybrids are supposed to deliver their best mileage in city use, yet we went over 55 mpg on the highway during our run, and it’s only rated at 46 mpg.

Under the hood is a 1.5-liter inline four that is rated at 73 horsepower. With the addition of the electric motor to boost low-end torque, total horsepower is rated at 99. Power is delivered to the front wheels through a constant velocity transmission that has EV and ECO modes. In EV you can drive as an electric, but only for a short while and below 15 mph. The battery pack is located under the rear seats, keeping the center of gravity low.

The “c” delivered decent acceleration, even when fully loaded. I’m willing to admit that I may have been delicate on the accelerator pedal during acceleration once I discovered how high the economy numbers were getting.

The seats are comfortable, although with the small 15-inch tires and short wheelbase you tend to feel every ripple on the road. The rear seats also have good leg and knee room, which was a surprise. Again, with the reduced dimensions, rear seat legroom is where most manufacturers usually take up the difference. The seats were dark grey with light grey inserts that matched the headliner. It made the interior bright.

Instruments are centered in the dash, with the digital speedometer offset to the left so the driver can read it. There’s a display panel in the center that tells you trip facts, even if your trip was only to the grocery store. For example, my local supermarket is 1.1 miles from my house and I averaged 49.7 mpg getting there for a fuel cost of seven cents. You can also switch this to overall economy and cost.

There is a very good audio system. However, since the engine is a bit noisy and the road tends to transmit every sound back into the cabin, the volume has to be turned up a tad. In addition, the navigation system is easy to program. It took me about a minute to set a destination on the screen.

I have driven many hybrids over the years. Toyota seems to have the market cornered with its Prius family. The Prius c, the smallest of the four models, is a definite bargain at just over $23,000 and a fabulous 52.5 mpg in our test. It may seem small, but it has a large interior that seems willing to take on all challenges.

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