Toyota prius c review 2016

Toyota prius c review 2016 DEFAULT


The 2019 Toyota Prius C is an ultra-affordable hybrid car that is not, as its name would suggest, based on the Toyota Prius but on the smaller Yaris. The C's combined 99 horsepower is less than the 134 horsepower of the regular Prius. We saw 43 mpg in our highway driving but coaxing that level of fuel economy drained all driving pleasure from the experience. Standard safety items include automated emergency braking and lane-departure warning. There may be some customer for whom the Prius C's extreme affordability and simplicity will be the right fit, but you won't catch us recommending it ahead of the Hyundai Ioniq—except, perhaps, for a demolition derby.

What's New for 2019?

The 2019 Prius C lineup is trimmed from four models to two, with the old numerical names being swapped for simply L and LE. While the standard and optional features are reshuffled, the Prius C is virtually unchanged. Several available exterior paint colors are gone, and Blizzard Pearl arrives. Likewise, a new blue-and-gray, two-tone interior color scheme is available. The previously optional 16-inch wheels and power sunroof are no longer on the options list.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

Even the top-tier 2019 Prius C is quite affordable, and it benefits from several added features versus the base model. The upgrades include integrated navigation and passive-entry with push-button start. Both models also have standard driver assists such as forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. Neither model has any available options or packages, so the exterior paint color is the only way to customize it.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Likes: Light weight means short emergency-braking distance.
Dislikes: Reluctant to accelerate, harsh ride quality, not especially nimble.

The anemic Prius C has nothing to offer in the way of driving enjoyment and struggles to achieve cruising speeds in a timely fashion. Its hybrid powertrain is not efficient enough to make up for those significant concerns. With a measly 99 total system horsepower, it's no surprise that the tiny Toyota feels sluggish. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive round out its only powertrain, and the CVT does nothing to quicken the C's pace. The C's short wheelbase means that the ride is jumpy and unsettled over bumpy roads. While the steering is quick, the wheel provides almost no feedback from the road, and the C sometimes feels tall and ungainly around corners. That's the bad news. The good news is that its well-modulated brake pedal is basically the sole high point in its performance portfolio. Some hybrids struggle to seamlessly blend regenerative and mechanical braking, which can leave brake pedals feeling soft and inconsistent. The Prius C doesn't suffer from this problem. Its brake pedal has a consistent feel and is neither too soft nor too firm for a car of this caliber.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The Prius C's many performance compromises might be easier to swallow if the car were more efficient. Most of the cars in this set are significantly thriftier than it, and all can cruise farther on the highway before refueling. The version we tested matched its EPA estimate of 43 mpg during our highway tests, which works out to 400 miles of highway cruising. Both of those numbers would be respectable compared against an average small sedan, but in this class of hybrids the Prius C falls to the back of the class.

Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo

Likes: Good outward visibility, low floor makes loading cargo easy.
Dislikes: Cabin is cramped for tall folk, few available features, back seat lacks cubby storage.

The Prius C is small, even compared with the other compact cars in this set, so it's not a surprise that interior space is lacking. With its budget-friendly price, the low-rent materials aren't a surprise, either. But that doesn't mean we will celebrate the C's uninspired interior. Our top-of-the-line model that we tested came with heated seats, one of the only interior luxuries that can be had in the Prius C. Our test vehicle visited the Car and Driver offices in the depths of winter, and its cloth seats heated up quickly and effectively. Every Prius C comes standard with a version of Toyota's Entune infotainment system, which is simple to use but responds slowly to user inputs and lacks some popular features. A CD player is standard. All models have the same 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system; a USB port, an auxiliary audio-input jack, and a CD player are all standard, too. Neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto are available. With 17 cubic feet of cargo space when the back seat is in use, the Prius C has about as much cargo space as a mid-size sedan. We fit four carry-ons behind the rear seats, while every other car in this segment held at least six boxes in the trunk. There is a serious lack of interior storage space in the Prius C. The front center console is tiny, and a large cubby below the center stack is awkward to access because it requires reaching around the center-console-mounted shifter.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The hybrid hatchback made a good showing during its crash-testing, but it didn't earn the perfect scores some competitors managed. There is not much driver-assistance technology available in the Prius C, but all of the technology that can be had is standard. Key safety features include:

  • Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
  • Standard automatic high-beam headlights
  • Standard lane-departure warning

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Toyota's warranty is notable for providing two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance, but otherwise its coverage periods are average. Hyundai and Kia maintain some of the best warranties in the business.

  • Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Complimentary maintenance is covered for 2 years or 25,000 miles

2016 Toyota Prius c

Retail Price

$19,560 - $24,495MSRP / Window Sticker Price

Engine I-4
MPG53 City / 46 Hwy
Seating5 Passengers
Transmission2-spd CVT w/OD
Power73 @ 4800 rpm
Smart Buy Program is powered by powered by TrueCar®
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CARFAX Vehicle History Reports contain over 28 billion historical records from 20 European countries, the US and Canada, which are updated daily with new information.

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Let's be clear: Although we strive to find every detail of a vehicle's life so far, we are focused only on the vehicle's history, and do not collect any information on previous owners. The information we provide relates solely to the vehicle, its odometer reading, any accidents that have been covered up, where the vehicle comes from and much more — it never gets personal. We've uncovered irreparable damage several times in the past, but other times our vehicle history checks draw a blank — and sometimes that's actually a good thing.

Second Hand — Not Second Best

Did you know that considerably more used cars are sold than new cars? We think this second-hand system is nothing short of fantastic. However, it goes without saying that it gives rise to different methods and tactics: Some sellers will disguise a car that's been in an accident under a fresh coat of paint, tamper with the odometer or conceal theft. This is one of the less appealing aspects of buying second hand. Our goal is to establish trusting relationships between buyers and sellers, since this is the best way to help customers make the right decision. Your new car should be reliable and make you feel safe, as well as make you feel like you haven't paid too much.

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2016 Toyota Prius C Persona and 2016 Toyota Prius C Review
Clean Retail Price

The MT clean retail price reflects a reasonable asking price by a dealership for a fully reconditioned vehicle (clean title history, no defects, minimal wear) with average mileage.

5-Year Cost to Own / Rating
$19,560N.A.N.A. / N.A.
$19,560N.A.N.A. / N.A.
$20,360N.A.N.A. / N.A.
$21,355N.A.N.A. / N.A.
$21,785N.A.N.A. / N.A.
$24,495N.A.N.A. / N.A.

Toyota Prius c Expert Review

Stefan Ogbac


  • Great fuel economy
  • Spacious cargo area
  • Toyota reputation for reliability


  • Sloppy handling
  • Wide turning radius with 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Doesn't have much power

New for 2016

The 2016 Toyota Prius C receives a Persona special edition model that's limited to only 1,500 units and features 15-inch alloy wheels and a black exterior color with either Electric Lime or Cherry Pearl accents.

Vehicle Summary

Slotting below the standard Prius, the 2016 Toyota Prius C is a front-drive subcompact hatchback featuring a hybrid powertrain.


Powering the 2016  Prius C is a hybrid powertrain that couples a 1.5-liter I-4 with an electric motor for a combined output of 99 hp. A CVT is the only transmission available. The EPA rates the 2016 Prius C at 53/46 mpg city/highway, making it one of the most efficient vehicles available. Cargo capacity stands at 17.1 cubic feet and can be expanded with the folding rear seats (60/40 split in higher trim levels). Standard features include a 3.5-inch multi-information display, LED headlights, Toyota's Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, and a four-speaker audio system. Higher trim levels come with navigation, alloy wheels ranging from 15 to 16 inches in diameter, the Entune premium app suite, heated front seats, LED fog lights, a rearview camera, and a moonroof,


The NHTSA gave the 2016 Prius C a four-star overall safety score (out of a possible five stars). In IIHS testing, the car received a Good score in all crash tests except the small front overlap test where it received an Average score (Good is the highest possible score). Toyota Safety Sense-C is available as an option in the 2016 Prius C and includes lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and the Pre-Collision System, which bundles together forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

What We Think

In a 2014 First Test, we said that the Prius C offers great fuel economy but that comes at the cost of acceleration because it doesn't have much power on tap. Staying in EV mode is also a challenge because the Prius C's lack of power means the gas engine will almost always engage. The Prius C features a comfortable ride, but it does come at the cost of handling because the car's driving dynamics are sloppy. With the larger 16-inch alloy wheels, the Prius C's turning circle is unusually wide for a car of its size at 37.4 cubic feet.

Cool Fact

The 2016 Toyota Prius C's battery pack is positioned under the rear seats to maximize cargo space.

Key Competitors


2016 c review toyota prius

2016 Toyota Prius c

Some hybrid-powertrain cars, including the familiar Toyota Prius Liftback, look different from the gasoline-engine models. Others look essentially the same as a conventional automobile of the similar size and category.

The Toyota Prius c, the smallest and lowest-priced member of the Prius hybrid pack, definitely falls into the latter category. When they look at a Prius c, most people won’t realize they’re looking at a hybrid, especially when viewed from the side.

Even after some styling and interior upgrades for 2015, the Prius c subcompact hatchback doesn’t stand out in a crowd, unless the drivers in that crowd happen to be exchanging gas-mileage numbers. Roomier inside than you might expect, this happy little hatchback is EPA-rated at a miserly 53/46 mpg City/Highway, or 50 mpg Combined.

Only one significant change for the 2016 model year: Toyota has added a Safety Sense-C group of electronic active-safety systems. Included are lane-departure assist, pre-collision braking, and automatic high beams.

Also for 2016, Toyota is offering a new version: a limited-edition Prius c Persona Series. Only 1,500 will be built.

Officially considered a subcompact, the Prius c is actually longer than many entrants in that size segment. Interior volume stemming from those exterior dimensions makes the Prius c truly capable of seating four adults. Assembly quality has been good, too.

Under the hood of the tiniest Prius, its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces a modest 73 horsepower, coupled to a more compact hybrid-powertrain system than the one used by the two larger Prius models. Working together, the gas engine and twin motor-generators have a combined output of 99 horsepower. Engineers even managed to position both the 0.9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and the gasoline tank below the back seat.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2016 Prius c an Acceptable rating for its rigorous new small-overlap test. The Prius c scored Good on each of the insurance-industry agency’s other tests. The federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2015 Prius c a four-star score in each of its tests.

Model Lineup

The 2016 Toyota Prius c comes in four trim levels, numbered One through Four:

Prius c One ($19,560) comes with power windows, mirrors, and locks; fabric seat upholstery; automatic climate control; keyless entry; Entune audio with 6.1-inch touchscreen; CD player; USB port; and 15-inch steel wheels. Prius c Two ($20,360) adds two-tone front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a SofTex console, cruise control, six-speaker audio, and cargo cover.

Prius c Three ($21,785) includes an in-dash navigation system, app suite, and Entune interface for audio and infotainment. Prius c Four ($24,495) includes 15-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and mirrors, moonroof, foglamps, and a rearview camera. Prius c Persona Special Edition ($21,355) is painted black, with either Cherry Pearl or Electric Lime accents, and black alloy wheels.

Nine airbags are standard, along with stability control. For upper trims, an available Safety Sense-C group includes pre-collision, lane departure alert, and automatic headlights.


2016-priusc-profileSize isn’t the only visual difference between the Prius c and the bigger Prius Liftback. The subcompact Prius c lacks the two-piece back window that has been a regular-Prius hallmark for the past dozen years, despite its effect on rearward visibility. The Prius c has a more conventional, vertical rear end: an ordinary top-hinged hatchback, set between tall vertical taillamps. A long roof spoiler is intended to reduce fuel-wasting air turbulence at highway speeds.

Up front, a neatly rounded, swept-back nose eases into smooth body sides. For 2015, a huge grille opening replaced the previous friendly happy face. As a result, Toyota’s smallest hybrid looks more shocked than happy.


2016-priusc-interiorInside, the Prius c looks more conventional than the larger Prius Liftback. 2015’s trim upgrade, using higher-level plastics and fabrics, still doesn’t match the quality of the Prius. Painted metal can even be seen in portions of what must be called an economy-car interior.

Front seats are about the same as in older Prius models: thin, but adequately comfortable. Two six-foot adults can fit in the rear without excessive scrunching.

The familiar Prius hallmark, a multi-information display at the dashboard center, below the windshield, remains the focal point. Dashboard switches, however, are conventional in appearance. Instead of the stubby, idiosyncratic gear selector in the regular Prius, the Prius c has an ordinary lever atop the central tunnel.

Driving Impressions

2016-priusc-drivingOnly a few minutes behind the wheel are needed to affirm that the Prius c is hardly swift. But then, who expected it to be? Push it harder than customary, when necessary, and this subcompact will handily keep up with traffic. Be prepared to accept the inevitable noise produced by its small engine at full power, noting that not everyone is bothered by the sound.

A pushbutton-activated EV mode can keep the Prius c in full-electric drive at low speeds, but only for about half a mile. An Eco mode restricts power output and alters the climate-control settings, for even thriftier fuel usage; but forward progress becomes almost painfully slow. Even when driven with some enthusiasm, the Prius c is efficient. Reaching its 50-mpg EPA rating shouldn’t be difficult.

Agile and eager, the Prius c is ideal for breezing through urban traffic and slipping into tight parking spaces. Though not sporty, the Prius c scores highly as a small, maneuverable hatchback.

Final Word

2016-priusc-finalPrius c lags in refinement, but its maneuverability and practicality are in accord with rivals of its size. A base price around $20,000 yields the highest gas mileage rating of any car with plug-in capability.

Driving impressions by John Voelcker, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.

2016 Toyota Prius c Review

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