2015 Toyota Prius c

Starting MSRP: $19,540 - $24,475

Estimated MPG: 53 city / 46 hwy

2015 Toyota Prius c Review

Toyota's family of hybrids has a baby, and it's called the 2015 Toyota Prius c. This subcompact hatchback features a hybrid powertrain designed for optimal fuel economy and low emissions. Yet, there is a lot more to the Prius c than its hybrid system.

By Randy Stern
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The Toyota Prius c was first introduced as an addition to the popular Prius family for the 2012 model year. Built off of the same platform as the Toyota Yaris, the Prius c is a subcompact car that offers a distinct look and is only available as a four-door hatchback. For 2015, the Prius c went through a mid-cycle refresh with new exterior and interior details and upgrades. A 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine is teamed up with an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels. It is offered in four trim levels, which add to the list of standard features.

Exterior

Exterior
8

The idea of the Prius c is to mate the design language of the larger Toyota Prius onto the Yaris platform. The result is a distinctive and different shape that stands out in a crowd. This year's updates include a new taillights and a new front end clip with new headlamps, turn signals and fog lamps.

The Prius c appears to be lower than most subcompact hatchbacks. Hatch access is low due to the roof's shape, which dips down a bit in the center. It is a wide opening to the cargo area, however. Doors open wide for greater access inside. The Prius c's small size (157.3 inches long) makes it easy to maneuver into tight on-street parking spaces.

Interior

Interior
8

More influence from its bigger brother is seen inside the Prius c. The instrument binnacle sits in the center of the dashboard with digital readouts for speed and fuel, along with a small TFT screen for information on trip, fuel economy and energy cycling. The steering wheel is an oval shape with two circular switch pods on either side for redundant control of the audio system and the information screen. The center stack has a triangular shape that includes a touch-screen audio system and climate controls on our test Prius c Four. There are plenty of high quality materials used in key touch points throughout the cabin. The transmission is shifted through a normally gated floor gear lever.

Seating in the Prius c Four wears an environmentally friendly leather substitute. The seats offer some support and bolstering, with manual controls for rake, recline and height. Rear-seat room is fine with supportive seats in the outboard positions.

Those rear seats fold down in a 60-40 configuration. Behind the rear seats, there is 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space.

Performance

Performance
8

A 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine is matched up with an electric motor in the 2015 Toyota Prius c. Total system output is 99 horsepower between the gasoline engine and electric motor. A CVT sends power to the front wheels. The Prius c turns in some of the best fuel economy figures in the country with 53 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway.

There is also a great balance between ride and handling in the Prius c. The 100.4-inch wheelbase helps in this balance, with a smooth ride and near-flat cornering. Steering action is OK, but the turning radius is a bit large for such a small car. 

Unlike many hybrids, the Prius c's brakes are good with direct feel from the pedal. We didn't experience any of the delay found with the regenerative braking systems in many hybrid vehicles.

Technology

Technology
9

The 2015 Toyota Prius c comes standard with Bluetooth, a USB port and a 6.1-inch touch screen with voice recognition. Higher trims bring in tech features like cruise control, an upgraded audio system, navigation, satellite radio and smartphone app integration.

Our test Prius c Four offers a touch screen that includes a navigation system. On top of AM, FM and SiriusXM, there is playback available via an auxiliary input and two USB ports. Bluetooth is available to connect a phone and stream audio. Smartphone app integration is also present, providing access to Pandora Internet Radio, iHeartRadio and Bing, which can respond to speech recognition or touch-screen inputs.

Safety

Safety
8

The 2015 Prius c comes with stability and traction control, nine air bags and anti-lock brakes. It earned a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), with Good ratings all around, except for the small overlap crash test, where it scored an Acceptable rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Prius c an overall score of four stars, as well as four stars in rollover tests and front and side crash tests.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
8

At $19,540, the Prius c is one of the lowest priced hybrid automobiles in this country. Our tester was a fully loaded Prius c Four – the highest of four trim levels – coming in with a sticker price of $26,579. Because it is a hybrid, pricing tends to be higher than the rest of the subcompact class.

Overall

Overall
8

As the smallest, lowest priced and most fuel-efficient hybrid sold in America, the 2015 Toyota Prius c seems like a good proposition. It will surprise many people with how it drives and how easy it is to operate.

The Prius c has no direct competition in the subcompact class with the same propulsion system. It can be compared with conventionally powered subcompacts like the Nissan Versa Note, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. The Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage could also be cross-shopped with the Prius c.