The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2018 Toyota Prius c Review By Larry Nutson

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

2018 Toyota Prius c
“c” for city

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

I see many Prii on the roads in Chicago.

Yes, Prii is the preferred plural of Prius, as declared by Toyota back in 2011.

The Prii around the streets of Chicago are both privately owned by individuals for personal use as well in use for commercial purposes. The Prius makes lots of sense in a big, highly populated city with lots of dense road traffic and limitations on places to park.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

For example, the Prius c I recently drove is just a tad over 162 inches long which makes for easy maneuvering into tight parking spaces. Plus, under the rear hatch you get a decent 17 cu.ft. of cargo space, which gets larger when you fold the rear seats. And, there’s seating for five, although perhaps only four average size adults.

The other reason for a Prius is low fuel consumption. With its hybrid powertrain it excels in lower speed driving with an EPA test-cycle 48 mpg city rating. It’s not bad on the highway either with a 43 mpg rating. But note the lower fuel consumption (higher mpg rating) in city-type driving.

The really good city driving fuel economy is one of the major reasons many commercial outfits use a Prius. The most common in Chicago is as a taxi, which is a testimony to the durability of the Prius and its hybrid drive train. I also see medical labs, courier services, and the like using them.

The 2018 Prius c I drove was finished in a very bright Absolutely Red color. It brought back a memory of the 2015 Prius c I drove that was finished in a very noticeable Tangerine Orange. So noticeable and somewhat in line with the variations of taxi colors in Chicago that there were a few attempts to flag me down for a taxi ride.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The Prius family comes in Prius c (base MSRP $20,630), Prius Liftback (base MSRP $23,475) and Prius Prime (base MSRP $27,300).

The Prius c is the entry to the range and has a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle gas engine and synchronous AC electric motor with a total output of 99 system horsepower. Battery recharging takes place through regenerative braking. There’s no plug to plug in. This by the way is really a good system design for city dwellers who, for example, park on the street or in a large condo or apartment garage with no access to an EV charger.

Along with the normal mode used for everyday driving, an ECO mode reduces overall energy consumption by governing the climate control system and throttle operation for better efficiency. An EV Mode allows the Prius c to be driven solely by electric power for up to one mile.

Overall, the hybrid drive train provides modest performance but excels with low fuel consumption. It’s a bit noisy at highway speeds.  

For 2018 the exterior has been mildly freshened with a new front fascia and grille design and redesigned headlights. Exterior updates include black roof rail accent, black side rocker and wheel arch moldings and front and rear, lower silver-accented body guards.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The Prius c is offered in four trims, very simply, One, Two, Three and Four. For my test drives I was in the Four with a base price of $24,965 and an as equipped bottom line of $26,293.

All trims now come standard with an integrated backup camera. Driver-assistance safety technologies standard on all trims include Pre-Collision System with automatic braking, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams. These technologies are designed to help address three key areas of driver assistance: helping to prevent or mitigate frontal collisions, helping maintain driving within the lane, and help to enhance road safety during nighttime driving.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The Prius c is definitely an entry level car. You’ll see it on the inside with a minimalist instrument cluster, hard surface trim and not a lot of sound insulation. But, you get what you pay for.

Ride is a bit harsh, but the Prius is balanced pretty well and easy to maneuver through city streets. Steering is responsive and the overall size of the Prius helps you squeeze past double-parked delivery trucks on narrow streets. Ingress and egress is made easy via the wide opening doors. Forward sight lines to the outside are clear and unobstructed. The rear is a bit more challenging with the smallish rear backlite and largish C-pillars.


More model information, specifications and details can be found at

With four trim levels to choose from there is a complete array of options to suite the needs and wants of many. Careful consideration of your usage needs will keep you from overspending.

I would be very tempted to want heated seats, a sunroof, the 60/40 split-fold rear seat and a good audio system. Although the Prius c has to do battle with a range of less expensive but newer and nicer subcompact sedans, with the latest safety tech now available this car might just be a good choice for that new teen drive in your family.

The Most In-Depth Toyota Vehicle Consumer Research - Anywhere!

© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy