Prius c front driving

2013 Toyota Prius c Review

Toyota Prius c front

If you are wondering what the “c” stands for in Prius c, think of it as standing for compact, commuter or city. If you are looking for a good city vehicle, the 2013 Toyota Prius c is worth looking at. And if you’ve read any recent reports from Consumer Reports, you’ll get a different viewpoint here. This Absolutely Red 2013 Prius c we’ll be testing is a high-mileage compact hatch that is perfect for the city dweller who wants a four-door hatch.

What’s new for 2013?

The Toyota Prius c gets some minor changes to trim materials, but otherwise remains unchanged for the 2013 model year and is an entry-level compact. With that said, don’t expect a Lexus quality interior and materials. It is what it is and it does have some plastic and lower quality materials inside. But think of the Prius c as a smaller, cheaper version of the popular Prius liftback. Prius c is nearly 20 inches shorter than a Prius and 500 pounds lighter.


Prius c interior

And with that smaller size comes great maneuverability and the ability to fit in smaller spaces. It features room inside for four adults, or five with kids in the back. The airy cabin of this tester included automatic climate control and Bluetooth phone book and streaming audio. Upper trim levels have connectivity to keep a new generation of millennial buyers connected.

Loaded with standard features for the price

Pricing as tested, this Prius c tester came in at $23,360 and it included a host of standard features like Display audio w/ Navigation and Entune, HD radio w/iTunes, and Adv Voice recognition. Outside it comes with Halogen headlamps, integrated fog lamps and door handles with touch-sensitive lock/unlock. Another big plus for those of us in cold climates, it also came standard with heated front seats.

Prius c is powered by Toyota’s excellent hybrid technology. The c powertrain mates a gasoline engine and electric motors. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder produces 73 horsepower, and paired with two electric motors, it has a combined output of 99 horsepower. Power is delivered to the front wheels via an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT). The batteries are nickel-metal hydride, the same type found on the original Prius.

Toyota Prius c front driving

Once inside, I pushed the one-touch start, selected D and off we went. There is a useful on-board display where I could see fuel mileage data and driving efficiency. It was easy to become distracted by watching the readings, and I needed to be careful to keep eyes on the road.

Excellent city fuel mileage

The most compelling reason to be looking at the Prius c is fuel mileage. EPA estimates put it at 53/46 mpg city/highway. That’s better than the competition which comes mainly from the Honda Insight, but while pricing is similar, the Prius c wins with its 50 mpg combined rating, versus the Insight’s 42 mpg.

For city dwellers, the 2013 Prius c offers some compelling reasons to give it a serious look. Sure there are gas-powered competitors like the Honda Fit, Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Volkswagen Golf diesel, but non will come close to the city mileage.

The Prius c definitely has some advantages to offer those living in the city. If you are mainly doing city commuting, the c will save you money on fuel. The small compact will run up to 1.5 miles on battery alone while staying under 25 mph if you have a light foot on the gas. We were able to achieve that and also about a half mile of moderate hills and start/stop before the gasoline engine kicked in.

Toyota Prius c

Don’t expect the Prius c to have sports car performance, but that isn’t why people are interested in the four-door hatch. We experienced plenty of power to get in and out of traffic and for entering traffic and getting up to highway speeds. The downside we see in the c is that it tends to be a bit stiff on rough roads and there is some noticeable wind noise at higher speeds inside the cabin.

But despite its small size, the Prius c gets high marks for safety. This is a big plus in the city as the IIHS gave the compact hatch the highest rating of Good in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.


Overall, the 2013 Prius c has urban-friendly dimensions and the ability to fit in smaller spaces making it a great car for use in the city. With more millennials moving into the major cities in the U.S., it’s the ideal hatchback for a new generation of buyers. Factor in the Prius c’s lower sticker price compared to the standard Prius, and you’ve got the most economical (non plug-in) hybrid on the market.

2013 Toyota Prius c