By on February 11, 2012

A few years ago I was let in on a secret: Toyota’s dreams of world domination hinged on capturing hip young buyers interested in green tech and high fuel economy. Of course, Toyota’s hybrid plans have been the worst kept secret since In-N-Out’s “secret menu” and as a result, the green Gen Y boys and girls I know in Berkeley have been excited for years about a “baby Prius”. Well kids, the blue spaceship landed in La Jolla and Toyota invited us down to take a drive. Does a hybrid Yaris with more MPGs than you can shake a stick at have what it takes help Prius become Toyota’s best-selling nameplate? Let’s find out.

When I suggested that the Prius c was a Yaris hybrid, my Toyota hosts tried to steer me back on the path of “small Prius.”  The Prius c uses a highly modified 5-door Yaris platform, modified enough that almost no Yaris content remains. The Prius c shares no sheetmetal, drivetrain, or interior components that we could find, and I’m told almost nothing of the Yaris suspension remains. Strangely, other than the steering wheel, very little of the liftback Prius was imported either. What was the point of using the Yaris as a start? It was cheaper than shrinking the Prius unibody. The “c” is more than 19 inches shorter, 2 inches narrower and 500 pounds lighter than the full-size Prius slotting it firmly in the subcompact class. Due to the true hatchback design, the “c” loses only 1.2 inches of legroom up front and 1 inch in the rear when compared to the Prius. Compared to its Yaris donor car, the “c” has a stretched wheelbase which improves legroom over the entry level Toyota by two inches (though it’s 200 lbs heavier overall).

Under the hood sits a revised 1.5L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine, essentially the same 73HP mill used in the first generation Prius with some key modifications. To improve efficiency, Toyota removed all belt driven accessories. Even the water-pump is electric on the diminutive four banger. Because the Prius liftback is wider than a Yaris, Toyota created a new Hybrid Synergy Drive CVT transmission that is smaller and lighter. In addition to the new transmission, the c also uses a new 144V battery pack and inverter that are smaller and lighter than the regular Prius. Total system output is 99HP (about 35 less than the 1.8L in the Prius), but quite similar to the Yaris 5-door’s 106HP. The light weight and revised drivetrain conspire to make the Prius c the most efficient non-plug-in vehicle sold in North America at 53/43 MPG (City/Highway) with a lofty 50MPG on the combined scale. Much like the liftback, acceleration is accompanied by the engine revving to stratospheric RPMs and hanging out there until you release the go-pedal. While many rags bash the “drone” of the drivetrain, I consider it a fair trade for high fuel economy. Your mileage may vary.

The Prius c’s interior shares essentially nothing with the Yaris save a preference for low rent headliners. The Prius c pulls its flat-bottomed steering wheel from the regular Prius, but little else is shared with the dashboard, sporting hard but nicely textured plastics and a standard high-resolution 3.5 inch full-color LCD. A wide variety of fairly dubious in-car apps relating to “Eco” driving are also present. The front seats felt fairly supportive during our hour long drive, but buyers should beware that the base trim level has a driver’s seat that isn’t as adjustable as the other models.

Like the Prius, the c comes in numbered packages. “One” is obviously the price leader at $18,950, achieved by “decontetning” niceties like cruise control, cargo area lights, adjustable front headrests, the center armrest and tonneau cover. Toyota did take a note from their Korean competitors and included Bluetooth and iPod integration standard on the base model. The $19,900 “Two” adds a 6-speaker audio system, variable intermittent wipers, 60/40 folding rear seat, cruise control, center armrest and an engine immobilizer-style key. “Three” lists for $21,635 and adds Toyota’s Entune Navigation radio with 6.1-inch touchscreen , XM and HD radio, and “Entune App” capability (Pandora, Bing, etc). Also included on “Three” is Toyota’s keyless entry and keyless go, a telescoping steering wheel and the option to add $390 alloy wheels and a $850 sunroof. The top-of-the-line “Four” brings 15 inch 8-spoke alloys to the party, “Softex” seats, heated front seats, fog lamps and turn signals in the side mirrors for $23,230. The “Four” can also be equipped with the $850 moonroof and an optional 16-inch alloy wheel and sport steering package for $300 (or $1150 when combined with the sunroof) topping the Prius c out at $24,380, just a few hundred over a base Prius liftback. The bigger wheels bring with them wider rubber (195 vs 175 width),  and a different steering ratio that drops the lock-to-lock turns from 3.02 to 2.28. Unfortunately, the turning circle grows ridiculously from a tight 31.4 to a Buick-like 37.4 feet while causing a reduction in ride quality.

The new Entune system is a step in the right direction for Toyota’s infotainment systems. Entune integrated well with my iPhone 4 and my iPod Nano as well as the Android 2.3 phone that Toyota had in the car. In order to use the Entune data services like Bing, OpenTable, Pandora and iHeartRadio, you will need a smart phone with a data plan (tethering plans are not required) and after the first three years, you’ll also have to pay Toyota a yearly subscription fee. Sadly, Entune still does not provide for voice command of your iPod or MP3 data device ala Ford’s SYNC.

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We had a fairly limited time with the baby Prius so I’ll save the majority of drive opinions for a longer affair with the small hybrid. Interested parties should just avoid the “One” unless that’s all you can afford. The content level is not as bad as most economy cars but the lack of cruise control and the center armrest are worth the upgrade price. Similarly steer clear of the “Four”, the faux-leather upholstery looks good in photos and is likely easier to clean, but the price of admission is steep and the non-breathable leather seats made our backsides sticky after only an hour. If you really must go for the “Four”, upgrade your wheels aftermarket. The lower profile rubber and ginormous turning circle that come with the upgraded package by Toyota make this a non-starter for me.

During our 140 miles with the Prius c (split between all four models of the Prius c) on city streets, windy mountain roads and 70MPH highway runs, we were unable to get the Prius c to drop below 50MPG and averaged a very respectable 53MPG overall with the A/C in constant use. That puts the c easily ahead of the regular Prius’ real-world MPG and more than 20MPG ahead of the 2012 Toyota Yaris 5-door’s combined score. Here we come full-circle to the Yaris hybrid concept. If you’re shopping the Yaris as an economical vehicle, the “Prius c Two” makes a compelling argument. While the Prius is $3,640 more expensive than the similarly equipped Yaris LE, it delivers 60% better fuel economy, an improved interior with more room, and no real sacrifices aside from a steeper price. If you drive 15,000 miles a year it would take only 5 years (or 75,000 miles) to break even when compared with the Yaris (or most other compact hatchbacks) based on California’s high gas prices. While I’m unconvinced that the Prius c will provide much excitement for the urban Gen Y buyer, I have little doubt it will prove an extremely economical vehicle to own in the long run and is worth serious consideration by anyone shopping for a subcompact hatch and in the process Toyota might just dominate the world.

Toyota flew us to San Diego, put us up for the night and provided a gaggle of pre-production Prius c models for our amusement.

 

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147 Comments on “Pre-Production Review: 2012 Toyota Prius c...”


  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    “While the Prius is $3,640 more expensive than the similarly equipped Yaris LE, it delivers 60% better fuel economy, an improved interior with more room, and no real sacrifices aside from a steeper price. If you drive 15,000 miles a year it would take only 5 years (or 75,000 miles) to break when compared with the Yaris (or most other compact hatchbacks) based on California’s high gas prices”

    I do understand this math. On the other hand, from the consumer point of view, if you add to the equation cars (unfortunately not available in the US) in the same segment with 1.4L or 1.6L Diesels, which when coupled to 6 sp manuals get a good 60-65mpg overall and the “premium” is close to $2K over gas, there is a whole new ballgame… Plus the aesthetics of some of these Asian Yaris compatitors (i20 or Swift for example) are far superior than the Prius C IMHO. Even the Sonic and the Fiesta with a Diesel would be serious players (other than the fact that the Sonic/Corsa diesel available in the EU is made by Fiat, so I suspect that it is a no-go in the US.)
    I’d love to see a serious long term (like 5-7) years study about the cost to run a subcompact hybrid vs. a subcompact diesel, which includes things like replacing dead hybrid batteries in the cost category…
    My biggest objection to these cars is just the style… I haven’t seen a Prius version (or a Fit for that matter) that looks good to me :) (but of course this is mightly subjective.)

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      While the payback may be five years (or whatever, depending on the car and driving pattern), one thing to remember is that one should expect the car to retain some additional value as well. With a $3640 difference new, a five-year-old Prius c might still be worth $1000-1500 more than the Yaris. Which really means that the payback period might only be three years once you factor in the residual value.

      And the same goes for diesels, of course.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Also, don’t forget that fuel prices are uncertain over time. Would you pay $3460 to limit the impact of fuel price increases that may (or may not) happen over the next 5 years?

        Depending on the details, it can be a valid decision either way — but it’s a factor worth considering. For instance, if you’re an employee of a university and you expect your income remain low-but-steady, regardless of the boom&bust cycle, then paying to reduce the future uncertainty is very rational. On the other hand, if you’re an itinerant contract employee who gets a new job in a new city with a new salary every 6 months, then reducing the upfront cost (and paying-as-you-go for fuel) may make more sense.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        You forget that the prospect of having to replace the battery after 5 yrs and over 100k miles is a liability in the mind of anyone looking to buy one of these used, it’s like replacing the engine or tranny in a regular car.

      • 0 avatar
        ZoomZoom

        “Replace the battery, replace the battery!”

        That is an old wives’ tale, due to the way the car manages the battery state of charge.

        I have almost 120,000 miles on my nearly 8-year old 2004 Prius. No battery problems! And no, the batteries don’t go to landfills, and while I’m hot about this, they’re not made of Cadmium either!

        Let’s educate ourselves before we blindly repeat this “replace the battery” fearmongering mythology.

        Grrrrr!

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Volt 240: “You forget that the prospect of having to replace the battery after 5 yrs and over 100k miles is a liability in the mind of anyone looking to buy one of these used, it’s like replacing the engine or tranny in a regular car.”

        The reliability record of the 2nd-gen Prius stands on its own.

        140k miles on the battery in my wife’s Prius and counting. People seem to be getting around 250k or so out of them, but it’s a statistical mean so YMMV. Rebuilt batteries cost around $1500, Toyota replacement batteries cost around $3400. The longevity and replacement cost of the battery is almost exactly like having an automatic transmission in the car. The actual transmission in the Prius seems to hold up pretty well too — which isn’t surprising, since it only has one gear. Overall, the Prius in my driveway has been the most reliable car we’ve ever owned.

        Dude, it’s really hard to use a 10 year old hypothesis to argue against the well-worn and reliable workhorse in my driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I have to throw in my grain of salt when test cars have manufacturer’s plates on them. The ringer’s results in the magazines shows up to back it up.

      Like mentioned above a diesel in the US will beat those economy numbers handledly. Some go ga-ga at 50 mpgs where my 12 year old Saab 9-5 sees 43 mpg on the highway. And I have more than 3x the 73HP this car does, with much more torque to match. My 1979 Chevette had 70 horsepower and was a slug back then with a 4-speed manual.

      • 0 avatar
        Alex L. Dykes

        I tend to disagree with this, it’s really difficult for a manufacturer to somehow prepare vehicles for test that both out perform and deliver astronomical MPGs. It’s all really how you drive the vehicle. I always, always compare with a vehicle fresh off the dealer lot and I have yet to find a single thing different. Perfect case in point: the BMW 650i we have this week has a TERRIBLE rattle in the dash that is driving me insane. The press fleet of today is just a very well rounded rental car lot.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Most Toyota hybrids are easily exceeding 5-7 years on their original battery, while diesel VWs aren’t cheap to keep because, well, all sorts of stuff breaks.

      • 0 avatar
        theonewhogotaway

        I don’t think I talked about VWs did I? ;)

      • 0 avatar
        jeffzekas

        Umm… wrong… quite the opposite, hybrid batteries in the Prius have been routinely lasting over 150,000 miles, with some going over 200,000 miles. http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-batteries-none-the-worse-for-wear-cga.htm

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        As a current owner of a Prius, and a former owner of a Jetta TDI, I’ve observed this first hand.

        I really like the diesel, and the Volkswagen was a load of fun to drive, but the Prius is just a better car overall. When my wife and I moved in together, we had too many cars, so we had to decide whether to keep the Prius or the TDI (since they’re both high-MPG passenger cars). I was sorry to see the TDI go but, given that I paid almost $7k to maintain my TDI over the year and 20k miles that I owned it, we made a sensible decision — even if I had to ditch a car that I loved. Four and a half years later, the Prius continues to be a reliable family workhorse and, even with the overpriced dealer oil changes, we still have only spent about half as much to maintain it over 4.5 years as I spent to keep my Jetta running for 1 year. Add in the fuel savings, and the lack of any $1k+ repair bills on a 140k-mile car with an expired warranty, and the Prius is a clear TCO winner as compared to other high-mileage used cars I’ve owned. Unless you really really really value a “sporty feel”, our Prius is just way more practical than my Jetta was.

        After my experience with the Jetta, I’m sworn off of everything made by the Volkswagen Auto Group. I still really like the torque and efficiency of a turbodiesel in a small car, though, so I’m eagerly following the developments of the Diesel-powered Cruze. I’d love to drive a diesel wagon, but given that just looking at a Volkswagen on the road makes my wallet-butt-cheek hurt, so mine will come from some other manufacturer. In the meantime, I’m very happy with what a sensible and practical little car the Prius has turned out to be. And, with 140k on the clock, I feel a little cha-ching each time we spend $25 to fill up the tank (as opposed to the $60 that it takes to fill up my Escape). My wife is liking the looks of the Prius V and, given our positive experience with our good ol’ 2nd-gen Prius, it certainly deserves a spot on the short-list when the time to replace our existing Prius. But our Prius still has a lot of good years left in it, just so long as I keep getting it detailed every couple of years.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah but those diesels aren’t sold here, so it’s a moot point.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Yeah but those diesels aren’t sold here”

        You’re missing the point. If not for the massive secret conspiracy between CARB, ethanol producers, the guv’mint and space aliens from Andromeda, there would be at least one diesel manual transmission station wagon in every American driveway. We desperately want such things, but THEY keep us from having them.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Pch,

        There is ONE gubmint conspiracy that actually does keep station wagons out of US driveways; the speed limit one. Ditch that one, and wallowing around at snail pace in some lumbering behemoth on stilts suddenly starts losing it’s appeal. The way things are now, there really is no obvious and immediate penalty from choosing a stiltwagon over a more dynamically sensible one, as even the latter is being barred from being driven any different than the former.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Derek Kreindler,

        Jetta TDI Sportwagen. It’s on sale now, at your local Volkswagen dealer!

        Only problem with it is that it’s a Volkswagen, and my 2001 Jetta TDI sedan turned out to be about as reliable as my father’s 1978 Volkswagen minibus — but without the affordable replacement parts.

        I would love to buy a sporty diesel wagon with a small towing capacity, but I’m not getting burned by Volkswagen again. A plugin hybrid wagon with a trailer hitch is about the only thing that would talk me out of the diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Also keep in mind this, when comparing diesels to the Prius (or other hybrid), make sure you are comparing apples to apples (or oranges to oranges) when it comes to fuel capacity as in Europe, they tend to use liters, which has the largest capacity per measurement, the UK uses imperial gallon, which is not quite as large and then you have US Gallons, the smallest measurement of the three.

      So in essence, that 60-65MPG in Europe you mention may well be closer to 50MPG here in the US for the same car, unless you WERE using US Gallons in your comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        There is the issue of the imperial vs. US gallon.

        But there is also the issue of the EPA test being far more conservative than the tests used elsewhere. If the EPA tested cars as the Europeans do, then the US cars would get much higher ratings than they are getting now.

        Which is to say, the tests can’t be compared directly to each other. The US tests are more realistic.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        OK, say if the 60mpg (imperial) is roughly 50mpg (US). Also, factor in that diesel is at least 10~20% more expensive than gas per gallon. Last time I checked, at Shell regular gas costs $1.06/L, while diesel costs like $1.20/L. Overall fuel cost is higher for the diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      I’ve driven at least 10k miles in diesel cars. I learned to drive a stick shift on a 1980 rabbit diesel, which I considered to be great fun at the time. I’m OK with diesel and would _only_ buy a car with a stick-shift. But I still have a hard time believing your 60 MPG stick-shift diesel would be successful in the Prius C market space…

      The Prius is aimed squarely at the California market and, to a lesser extent, the USA market. Stiffer emissions standards, different testing standards, and smaller gallons (!!!) mean diesels won’t get the kind of mileage they do in Europe. The emissions standards also add cost and (maybe) decrease power. Diesel fuel is currently $4/gallon whereas regular unleaded gasoline is about $3.50. With all that, I’m having a hard time believing one of those diesels would be any more cost effective in the California market.

      There’s one absolute show-stopper: The vast majority of USA drivers (you and I excepted) are absolutely and positively allergic to stick shifts. Most young drivers have _never_ driven a stick and have little or no access to one on which to learn. Older drivers are probably not doing 20k highway miles a year, where the diesel would shine. Put that all together and you wouldn’t sell enough sticks to justify government mandated crash testing. You would have to offer an automatic, which would add cost and weight… something already factored into the Prius. BMW 3, BMW 5 series, and Audi A3 are examples of vehicles where the diesel is only automatic but the gasoline versions come in stick or automatic.

      What is the acceleration of these 60 MPG diesels? How about if you add another 300 pounds of air conditioner, automatic, and other equipment? The Prius is considered very slow by modern USA standards. The best selling vehicle in this country has 300 horsepower in the _base_ engine. The only version of the Smart in the USA is the one with the most powerful engine, but it is still ridiculed for its “dangerously slow” acceleration.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “But I still have a hard time believing your 60 MPG stick-shift diesel would be successful in the Prius C market space…”

        If those subcompact diesels sold in Europe were tested using the EPA test cycle, then I have doubt that they would have a highway rating of 60 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Toyota is trying to branch out from those buying Priuses to show the world how green they are, towards those that simply view a car as a device to get from A to B in, which is where the real mass market is.

      For this audience, diesels are just not going to cut it, regardless if they could manage similar mileage, cost and “performance.” If for no other reason, because whet seems to me as the majority of diesel pumps in the US (and many even in Europe) are basically covered in sticky diesel, so much so that no self respecting, 6 inch heeled botoxette would dare going near one without donning a hazmat suit. Even in Europe many, if not most, of the diesel drivers I know have pair of gloves to don when fueling.

      And don’t even begin with manuals as a mass market choice…..

      Personally I’d take a manual diesel over a synergy drive gasser any day; but I’d also buy a manual gasser like the Mazda2 or Yaris over a synergy drive anything. But then again, I’m some guy commenting on internet car forums, which would be rather atypical of the appliance seekers Toyota is trying to broaden the Prius’ appeal amongst.

    • 0 avatar
      Javert81

      Diesels can get great highway MPG, but hybrids almost always beat them handily in city MPG. Alas don’t forget that here in the US market there are more hybrid vehicle models available than diesel. Most importantly much of the savings with diesel evaporates when you consider that Diesel fuel always costs more here in the US. In most markets Diesel Costs 35-70 cents more per gallon than regular Unleaded gasoline.

      I used to own a 97 VW golf Diesel 5spd. I never saw more than 35MPG mostly because 80% of my driving is in stop and go city traffic. My tank average in real world driving was 32MPG. Lastly If I still owned this car I probably would have to spend $60+ for a full tank of diesel at todays prices.

      What i do miss about diesel is the durability of the engines!! Not so much the quality of the car itself but diesels engines are built to last. Most Diesel cars available in the US are cheapy cars but with great engines. Gotta love the low end torque off diesel too!!. Wait a minute…… hybrids have great low end torque as well. Also over the last decade hybrids have proven to be just as reliable as any conventional or diesel powered car. I guess thats the reason why diesel looses to hybrids in the US not to mention the fact that even the newest and cleanest diesels are still dirtier in emissions compared to most hybrid vehicles

    • 0 avatar
      Morkus

      I wish the US government and consumers would pull their heads out of their butt and adopt modern european diesels, as well as the higher quality, higher cetane rated fuel.

      Unfortunately, that is not going to happen anytime soon, so your propesed comparison will do us no good. Even the TTAC has to market their articles to the majority who visit their site, but they also have to write realistic articles.

      It is not realistic to compare any car here to a car sold somewhere else in the world, but not allowed here for whatever reason.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    This is the concept GM should have explored. Small car, slightly unconventional engine but real mileage improvements for 20K.
    And it will sell. And if they offer a plug in the wall option it will sell even more.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      A plug-in version would require a larger battery, which would mean cost and weight gain. Still, it might be a good idea. We’ll see how the Plug-in larger Prius does.

      Actually, there is one reason a Prius C plug-in would be a huge success: single person use of California’s carpool lanes. Maybe the Prius C could be the current cheapest car with that status.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    I’m most dissapointed that they didn’t keep the Acqua name; the last thing we needed was a THIRD model that smug owners will be able to call a Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Clearly to you the Prius name is a minus, and also you would never buy a Prius. On the other hand, to the people who would actually ever buy a Prius, the name is a plus. In this case, Toyota is no doubt giving their opinion a higher consideration of yours.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Have you checked in with any Prius owners lately?

      They were smug at first but, speaking from firsthand experience, the green halo wears off and you’re left with…. Wait for it… Drum roll… A practical little car with low running costs.

      I think you’ll find that the smug early adopters have gotten over the car (or moved on to something else), and that the people buying Priuses now are just people who want to waste a little less while living a modern suburban lifestyle.

      • 0 avatar
        ZoomZoom

        Well, I will say that I have “firsthand knowledge” of people who have bought a Prius based on the long-term experiences and enthusiasm of other people who already own one.

        It’s all anecdotal, yes. But it definitely runs counter to your “firsthand experience”.

      • 0 avatar

        I only knew one Prius owner. Her green halo was sharper than a samurai’s sword then, and shows no signs of wear now. She’s also a crazy feminazi.

        Of course people who buy Prius for practicality exist, but how many are out there is an open question.

  • avatar
    epsilonkore

    If the reliability and depreciation matches the Prius, the Prius C will cost less to own than a GM or VW sub/compact diesel, despite the up front cost savings. If VW or GM (insert any competitor with a clean diesel) could match Toyotas reliability and cost for repair and parts THEN they could talk. Right now, only Toyota has the hybrid reliability and TCO to make a car like the Prius C compete, and probably beat cheaper diesel offerings. I wonder what the TCO of a Toyota diesel Yaris would be in a comparison … the world may never know.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    There must be a rule on car blogs: Mention hybrids, and the diesel fans will come rushing in within moments.

    If Toyota would just offer a Prius manual transmission station wagon, all hell would break loose.

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      Honestly, I’d be all over a stick-shift Prius V in a few years. I know it wouldn’t make any real difference in economy, but it’d likely be more enjoyable.

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        Actually, a stick would probably hurt fuel economy quite a bit (at least in EPA testing). Consider Honda Civic with stick, automatic, and hybrid. The stick and automatic bench just about the same on the EPA charts. The hybrid, which uses a conventional automatic transmission, is a fair amount behind the Prius. From that I would conclude that the Prius transmission is a very important part of the equation.

        As far as automatics go, I really like the Prius one. There’s no jerkiness like with conventional automatics. (Would still prefer a stick, though, for entertainment value.)

    • 0 avatar
      MikePDX

      Actually Toyota’s full hybrid system doesn’t have a transmission at all, manual or automatic. Engine and two motor-generators, one off which is chained to the wheels, are all tied together through a planetary gearset. Good explanation at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_Synergy_Drive

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        Well, I’ve learned something new. I’d always assumed there was a fairly conventional CVT sandwiched in there somewhere.

        Hmm, I wonder how a Prius V with the 2AR nicked from a Camry/tC, hitched to a six-speed stick, would do? The Camry (with a slushbox) is rated at 25/28/35, the tC (regardless of gearbox) at 23/26/31… a roomy compact-to-midsize wagon that would average high 20s on my hilly rural-highway commute would be a hypothetically welcome thing.

        I’m sure they’d love to sell me a Matrix, I know. Actually, the first generation might as well be a slightly-shrunken petrol-only Prius V… shame about the newer model’s visibility and styling.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The Prius will never be offered with a stick shift, because there’s real way to make it work in the architecture of the Hybrid Synergy Drive:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_Synergy_Drive#Subsequent_developments

      The HSD is a “magic transmission” approach to building a hybrid. All of the smarts and hybrid functions are built into the “transmission”. Putting a manual in place of the HSD powerslit device would require a complete redesign.

      Honda’s previous approach to the older hybrid Civic and 1st and second generation Insight would lend itself to a manual transmission, since the hybrid functionality is bolted onto the engine. But, you can compare the performance (MPGs, mostly) and the Prius seems to have an edge there.

      If you want a manual, the Prius probably isn’t the car for you. I like manuals as much as the next guy, but the Prius happens to be the right tool for the driving that my wife and I do (and she won’t drive a manual), so two-pedals it is. Maybe I’ll build a manual shift Manx or something when I have the time and the money.

    • 0 avatar
      usbseawolf2000

      Prius has only one gear ratio. There is nothing to shift manually and not required. Torque adjustment is done with two electric motors, rather than gear ratio.

  • avatar
    Opus

    “…the “c” looses only 1.2 inches of legroom…”

    AAAGH!! LOOSES?? Was something too tight?
    The word you want is “LOSES”. Spelling counts when writing for publication!

    “take only 5 years (or 75,000 miles) to break when compared ”

    Should be “to break EVEN…”

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    This looks fantastic, so much nicer looking than the regular Prius. I love this type of quirky styling – and pair it with fun colors such as aqua blue or red or some other fun color, like a bright yellow fer instance.

    That said, I would love to see the interiors get more color options, even if simply adding aqua or red or whatever to the center sections of the seats so that fun factor carries inside.

    I would love it if they just gave you power windows, door locks and keyless entry with immobilizer standard in ALL trims to help reduce car thefts at the very least to go along with what’s already offered and I would agree, cruise and arm rest in the One would be nice.

    Will be interesting to see how these cars fare in the driving dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      People steal prius?

      That would be the equivalent of stealing a black band casio digital watch that beeps on the half.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      If the synergy drive is anything like in the regular Prius, “driving dynamics” is all about momentum conservation. It’s not really a driveline optimized for balancing the car on the throttle, to say the least :) Or maybe I just need more time getting used to it’s quirks. My advice to those concerned about driving dynamics would be to get a Yaris with a manual.

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    Alex, you left out the most important part (from the video): no more backup beeper in Reverse! Hope it stays that way in production cars.

    Also interesting that the Prius c has a slicker power-flow display than the more expensive Prius (have to take fun where you can get it in these cars).

    Going from 3.08 to 2.28 turns lock-to-lock sounds pretty drastic, was there really not much subjective difference between the two ratios?

  • avatar
    rentonben

    >>Buick-like 37.4 feet

    True.. my 2011 Regal turning diameter is 37.4 feet. But then again, the Regal doesn’t have casters for wheels, and doesn’t cause vomiting upon looking at it.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    Here is the thing (and thus the earlier Diesel mention – and I am not a huge Diesel fan, btw…) :

    What this segment is missing (at least in the US) is an entry level car that can do 35 mpg or even 30 and it costs less than $10K. And includes things like air and a radio. Like a modern day Yugo/Excel, albeit more reliable. I know it can happen, cars like that roam the european roads every day. Versa came close, but no cigar. And I mean a car with 1.2L gas engine that takes 13 seconds to get to 60 mph. I guess a modern Ford Festiva (with a tad better ergonomics and space) is what I am thinking about…

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “What this segment is missing (at least in the US) is an entry level car that can do 35 mpg or even 30 and it costs less than $10K.”

      My local supermarket is missing filet mignon and lobster at 59 cents per pound.

      I’ll bet that they’d have a line out the door to buy it, if only they would offer it at that price. There must be a reason why they don’t…

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Your local supermarket has frozen veggies and cheap TV dinners, though.

        He wasn’t asking for luxury (filet mignon), he was asking for competent and cheap. Frozen veggies, water, and few spice make a wonderful soup that will keep you alive as well as a filet mignon will (even better, if vegetarians are to be believed).

        He’s asking for a competent cheap car. Like the Nissan Micra that I saw when I was in Scotland. It wasn’t much, but it did appear to be perfectly competent (though not luxurious) transportation for its frugal and (judging by the bumper stickers) environmentally concerned owner.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “He wasn’t asking for luxury (filet mignon), he was asking for competent and cheap.”

        You’re missing the point of the analogy.

        The $10,000 car would be a money loser for the company that tried to build it. Competently managed auto makers don’t make cars with the goal of losing money.

        Price points don’t come completely out of the blue. There is a reason why most cars are priced as they are. I realize that a lot of people would like something for nothing (or next to nothing), but there are reasons why nobody wants to give it to them.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        If you have such a an insight into the cost structure of the automtive industry, why don’t you envision what a $10k car would look like?

        Yes, the kind of car you want costs more than $10k. But what about the kind of car he wants? Other car companies in other parts of the world do it — the Tata Nano is less than half of that price (though it’s not up to American safety standards.)

        From what I’ve gathered, the auto industry is a business of very high fixed costs and relatively low marginal costs. You seem to be amortizing the cost of the factory and R&D using a bunch of assumptions about volume and the length of the time the car will be made (if you’re delving in to it this deeply).

        But, for a moment, let’s pretend we *want* to build a $10k car and make a profit. Given that the R&D costs and the cost of the factory are a big part of the expense of the car, let’s plan for a basic simple car where the design is revamped every 12 years, instead of every 5 years. It will be built in one factory and shipped out globally, and the sales folks will have to work to make sure the factory stays near capacity at all times. That should cut the fixed costs in less than half, maybe more.

        Yes, the car will look dated as soon as it arrives, and it will be basic — but, if the engineers put the right amount of thought into the design, it can be reliable and safe (if a bit ascetic). At the first pass, it seems like a valid choice for both the buyer and the seller to me — it just bucks a little bit of the conventional wisdom that you’re so keen to repeat.

        Will it work? I don’t know what the demand for an $8k stripper vehicle is — but, given that used car prices have been climbing, it may be more than one might think. Assuming, of course, that this vehicle is dependable and relatively safe.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Other car companies in other parts of the world do it — the Tata Nano is less than half of that price”

        And the Tata Nano is a commercial failure. http://www.leftlanenews.com/tata-nano-too-cheap-for-its-own-good.html

        Automakers need to be profitable if they are to stay in business. Building volume cars that lose money is not good policy.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @pch101: You’re still making assumptions about what is profitable. If you want to trade unsubstantiated platitudes, I’ll submit that conventional wisdom isn’t the only (or even most profitable) way to make a profit.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “You’re still making assumptions about what is profitable.”

        I’m looking at tangible examples of what works and what doesn’t.

        You cited the Tata Nano as if it proves your point. You are apparently missing that it proves **my** point — penalty boxes are good at generating losses and disappointingly low sales.

        If sub-$10,000 cars were an obviously profitable class of vehicle in the United States, then we would already be swimming in them. There is a reason why we don’t have them. This idea needs to be thrown in the round file, along with the mythical diesel manual transmission station wagons for which there is little demand outside of the comments sections of car blogs.

        Talk is cheap. In the real world, there are very few people who truly want such things, and they are too few in number to constitute a viable market.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      Whats wrong with the Versa?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        It costs $12k, but only if you buy a stripper sedan.

        If you want the hatch, it’ll cost ya.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        Now you want a hatchback?.. the sedan that sells for $10,990 comes with AC and a 5 speed stick.. for $350 you can add cruise control, 2 speakers and a trunk light. What more do you need?.

        For all that you get a new car with a warranty. How come I dont see the streets awash in these Versas?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        A friend of mine owns one and she seems to be quite happy with it. Also, the back seat has an unusually generous amount of legroom for the class of vehicle.

        It is a mystery to me why the streets aren’t full of Versas.

        Maybe it’s because of competition from upscale used cars?

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        I think Luke42 has explained it: people see that they can buy a “better” used car for the same price (apparently even with these high used car prices), so they go for that.

        Either that – or maybe the Versa is just so generic that nobody notices them. (I see quite a few of them if I look for them.)

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      The trouble with cars like the Dacia Logan is that they’re not especially crash worthy – it seems $15K is the minimum needed if you think that’s important.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The old sub-$10K Versa didn’t come with A/C, and the new one starts at $11,700 including D&D.

      I, however, do not see a need for a car like that. If your budget is that small, that’s what used cars are for.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        This. If it were a review of that sub-$10,000 car, the comments section would be loaded with people asking why you’re not just looking at a bigger/better equipped used car.

  • avatar
    TAP

    @ Pch101: Yeah, all hell would break loose among the 5% of new car buyers who still care that manuals exist. I agree that they should, but…

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    What a goofy option/package hierarchy. Bluetooth before cruise, adjustable headrests, and an armest? Navigation before foglights or alloy wheels?

    • 0 avatar

      Makes complete sense to me. Who needs cruise? I never use mine, too many hills around. Adjustable headrests I can understand, although I just always set mine at the topmost notch for safety and never touch it thereafter (with either hands of head). Same for the armrest – never had. But I had to istall the blasted Bluetooth. It’s a government mandate!

      So, Toyota has the right priorities here. USB input for MP3s is also more important to me than armrest.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Why do I need adjustable headrests? Mine are high enough, and they’re not for resting your head anyway. (And, yes, that’s in a car costing considerably more than the “c”.)

        I do use my cruise control a lot, though, as we don’t have so many hills around here …

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Someone 5’10” won’t want the headrest at the same level as someone 6’2″. I prefer the ones that adjust fore-aft as well as up and down, as I like to be able to just barely feel the headrest against the back of my head, but at a minimum I want it to be high enough that it isn’t poking into the base of my skull as I’m driving.

        I can see the point about bluetooth being a standard feature, but it seems odd to have it but to omit cruise control, which is one of those features that even basic stripper models should start coming with these days. Granted, this isn’t a car aimed at the boomers and older, but I’ve found many of them don’t care nearly as much about bluetooth as they do about having cruise control.

        Armrests should be a must have, what do I do with my right arm if there is no armrest? At least on the left side the windowsill can substitute, but I feel awkward just dangling my other arm, and if I have a passenger next to me they might feel awkward if I wrap my arm around the back of their seat.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @NulloModo, “Armrests should be a must have, what do I do with my right arm if there is no armrest?”

        How about keeping both hands on the steering wheel?

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        th –

        When driving at any speed sure, but what about when crawling in traffic moving sub 5mph, and those stretches of road where you go redlight to redlight to redlight?

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Seems pretty reasonable to me when I look through the hierarchy of models. And they are not snagging you into leather and crap to get the features I consider “gotta haves” these days. I’d much rather have USB and bluetooth than cruise, and could care less about factory fog lights, since most of them I’ve used lately seem pretty pointless. Nav is kind of a question mark, I can’t live without it, especially when I travel for business, and I hate having to take it out all the time if I use my own portable unit, but factory systems are usually mucho $$$ to upgrade.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’m gobsmacked at the lack of cruise control, or rather what it implies. A hybrid, for all intents are purposes, already has cruise because the powertrain is completely managed. You can’t not have the hardware for cruise control.

      Not offering it is naked profiteering.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The interior looks pretty plasticky. Makes the regular Prius look like a Rolls-Royce. The 2012 Chevy Tahoe gets 21mpg highway, that is efficient enough for me.

    • 0 avatar

      My Wrangler gets 18. The Aqua seems like a nice enough car to me though.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      My truck used to get around 20 mpg highway before some tire and wheel upgrades, but I really like my Prius as a daily driver better.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Lectrobyte, several of my neighbors own a Prius from different model years and their overall mileage isn’t all that great mainly because they have to accelerate hard to get up to speed when they merge with traffic on US54, or risk getting run over by an 18-wheeler.

        In my case, I get around 12mpg overall with my 2011 Tundra 5.7, 14mpg overall with our 2008 Highlander 4X4 3.5, and 13mpg overall with our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4 3.6, for the same reason – hard acceleration.

        IMO, a better daily driver in that size class would be the 2011 Elantra my granddaughter uses to commute to college – 150mile roundtrip 5 days a week. The Prius carries too much dead weight in its battery pack to give a decent return on this investment.

        If people are trying to save money with a Hybrid, it may not work equally well for everyone. Glad it works for you.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        highdesertcat,

        Much of the real world mileage gain from small engined cars arise specifically because their “hard” acceleration is quite a lot less hard than in bigger engined cars. Which is why I find the whole EPA testing protocol a bit silly. Noone, at least noone with enough gray matter that I’d feel comfortable to have sharing roadways with me, buys a Z06 to mope around the way Chevy is obtaining their Corvette EPA ratings.

        Any reasonably realistic test for mileage, would include frequent full throttle 0 to freeway-speed-limit+15mph runs. And in those situations, small Atkinson engines, largely due to simply being slower, will vastly outshine 500hp V8 monsters, despite the latter being able to achieve decent mileage if restricted to idle in some improbably high top gear.

        As for commuting 150miles through the high desert every day, get a Panamera or something similar. They’re reasonably comfortable doing the round trip in an hour. Unless shortcuts thorough the desert is available; then get a Raptor.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        stuki, a Panamera for an 18-year old girl and three of her girlfriends for the daily commute to college!? Get real. The 2011 Elantra works fine and gives decent gas mileage.

        BTW, the speed limit on US54 where I enter it is 75mph, which means that the 18-wheelers and other traffic are cruising at 85mph, at least, often faster.

        Even with the third acceleration-lane, it takes wide-open throttle to get up to merging speed. Several cars and pickup trucks did not make escape velocity and have commemorative crosses marking the spot along the highway where their drivers died, both along US54 and US70.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The Prius and the Tahoe are different tools for jobs.

      The first rule of practicality is to use the right tool for the right job. I hope you’re not using your Tahoe for a task where the Prius would do.

      If you’re hauling 7 people across an unimproved road while hauling a trailer, then the Tahoe is the right tool for the job. Driving down the Interstate with just a dog, though, is just a waste. Fortunately, my knee jerks in a libertarian way, but I still don’t have much respect for pointless waste.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Looks nicer than I expected.

    The Yaris platform is actually the same as the older Scion xB1, and that was the same as the Echo. Beyond that, I don’t know (Tercel, maybe?), but the 1.5 liter compact car formula is pretty tried-and-true at Toyota.

    I test-drove an 05 Prius when I bought my 05 xB1 new; the payback on the ‘hybrid premium’ back then was 12 years. This “c” model really closes the gap, but the package offerings are different. It’s disappointing to see cruise and keyless entry coming out of cars so the mfrs can hit rock bottom price points.

    Having said that, I agree with Alex that the “One” and “Four” are to be avoided, neither providing the best value.

    The back seats appear roomy; is this true in reality?

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    “While the Prius is $3,640 more expensive than the similarly equipped Yaris LE, it delivers 60% better fuel economy, an improved interior with more room, and no real sacrifices aside from a steeper price. If you drive 15,000 miles a year it would take only 5 years (or 75,000 miles) to break even when compared with the Yaris (or most other compact hatchbacks) based on California’s high gas prices.”

    Hold on! You mention that the Prius c has an improved interior and more room yet you value that at exactly $0.00 when calculating the break even point. Combined with the already-mentioned higher resale, the break even is probably less than 2 years for the average driver.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Unless Honda did really, really well with the Insight changes for 2012, it will be toast against the Prius C.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    “. . . and in the process Toyota might just dominate the world.”

    Oh My.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    welcome to the future: small, cheap, plasticky, cramped, boring, and fuel efficient.

    the automotive appliance, courtesy of toyota. look for yours today in the housewares department of your local sears and roebuck.

    i wonder what this little rollerskate would do if t-boned by a texting teen in an f-350.

    if gas prices ever fall (doubtful) to reasonable levels, people will drop these things faster than turd tacos.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      It’s not so bad. Think of it this way, more gas for those of use who have F350s.

    • 0 avatar
      Strippo

      Head-on crashes are another story, but if you’re t-boned in a passenger car—or even in another F-350—by a texting teen driving an F-350, then you’re probably better off dead than surviving the trauma of that sucker punch. You can’t cheat the physics of a side impact crash just by adding mass. Besides, for the most part people who get t-boned are people who forget, at least momentarily, that they can end up being t-boned. Buying an F-350-weighted vehicle merely for commuting is an expensive alternative to defensive driving. And such misguided brinksmanship makes you a greater danger to others to boot. What good is it to live out your days without a scratch if you can’t forget that time your kids witnessed you killing a hipster in a Prius c with your Escalade after Junior dropped his sippy cup?

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        i think that a heavy suv would do much better than a wind-up toy. inertia is still a good friend. and until the escalade driving moms out there trade down for outbacks, i really don’t feel safe driving tiny cars that the entire back glass gets eclipsed by that giant caddy or blue oval hood badge.

      • 0 avatar
        Strippo

        The SUV will indeed do much better. The occupants’ remains will very likely be easier to identify. So you’ve got that going for you. Which is nice.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    What always suprises me about discussions about hybrids, is that suddenly everyone is suddenly very money conscious. Endless discussions about imperial vs american gallons vs liters, the speculations about battery life, commuting distance, return on investment (as if a car is an investment!)

    Talk about any other car with a regular ice engine, the discussions are about the $4,000 levinson audio system, or a “technology package”, that costs 2 grand, everyone nods their heads and says, well we NEED am 8 speaker Bose system and a tv screen in the middle of the dash! Blue things? Access to my 9,000 terabyte music collection? Of course! Where is the return on investment on that stuff?

    LIke any car, I wanna know about how it drives. Is it fun? Can I afford it? Does it fit my needs? If all those things are go, then getting superior milage is a no-brainer, no matter how its achieved.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      To answer your question JD, it is because everyone assumes whoever is buying a prius has one single objective and that is minimizing gasoline usage no matter the cost.

      Personally, I’m more interested in the $6K larger engine option since I carpool to work, and generally drive less than six to seven hundred miles a month.

      Talk about saving on gas expenditures!

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Card-carrying Prius driver here.

        I’ve run the numbers and driving less is a far more cost-effective and environmentally-effective than changing to a more efficient car.

        Driving 25 miles to work in a 50mpg Prius uses far less fuel than driving 2.5 miles to work in a 10mpg Corvette/Hummer/whatever. In this case, the 10mpg driver uses 1/5th of the gasoline as the Prius driver, and has a lot more fun, too!

        Car pooling should have a similar effect, even if it’s slightly trickier to account for the savings that are distributed across several people.

        Anyway, kudos — you get to have your big-engined cake and eat it with a healthy side of green (cash and/or trees) too. :-)

  • avatar

    Mr. Dykes

    How did it smell?
    In other words, how bad was the offgassing of the plastics
    in the cabin?

    thankyou

  • avatar
    KimJongJefferson

    what is it that prevents hybrids from being attractive to the eyes and fun to drive?
    hope the Bimmer hybrid is up to the task.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      Its because they are marketed to wacky weirdos that have off the wall tastes.

      At least the Prius and its variants. Camry and fusion hybrids look like normal vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        To optimize a real world vehicle for fuel efficiency, your design is more constrained by aerodynamics for one, and by minimizing outside-to-inside size differences for another.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        By that definition, my entire town is full of weirdos…

        The Prius is one of the more popular car models here. They stop looking weird when you see a lot of them.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        @ Luke. LOL, I had in mind the Nissan Leaf when I wrote that. Personally I don’t think the prius is that “weird” looking, however I saw some recent variant on the way home from work with my carpool buddy and we both thought it looked like a door stop.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Given this price point and Toyota’s good reliability record with hybrids, its going to make GMs case for the Volt very tricky.

    • 0 avatar
      Strippo

      Pretty sure that ship has not only sailed, but it never even came in to port.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The Prius has been on the road since 1997 in Japan and since 2001 in the US. The Prius stopped being a prototype 15 years ago, and it started getting good in 2004. The 8 year old Prius with 140k miles in my driveway is a comfortable old shoe by now. Yes, they really do have a great reliability record.

        The Prius isn’t the right car for everyone, but they are a practical little car with great reliability and low running costs.

        Fifteen years of service is enough time to prove out any automotive technology.

      • 0 avatar
        Strippo

        You get that I’m talking about there never being a business case for the Volt, right? It was meant to be a stepping stone to a fuel cell vehicle by making do with an ICE until the utopian hydrogen infrastructure was in place. That ain’t happening. The Volt does not offer a way to get the most bang out of gasoline. Its only advantage is its ability to take energy from the grid to avoid burning gasoline at all for 40 miles or so. Plug-in hybrids will take away even that advantage, such as it is. For a commuter I’d just buy the plug-free c (make mine a Three) and call it a day.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Given this price point and Toyota’s good reliability record with hybrids, its going to make GMs case for the Volt very tricky.”

      The Prius C is a subcompact. It doesn’t compete directly with the Volt.

      But the larger Prius plug-in is coming out in March. That does compete directly with the Volt, and yes, I would expect Chevy to lose that battle quite handily.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The Volt does have a few things on the Plugin Prius — mostly a longer all-electric range. The Plugin Prius is an evolution of the existing Prius, though, and the all-electric range and acceleration aren’t nearly as ambitions.

        But, given the millions of happy Prius drivers out there, I expect to see a great fight between two promising approaches.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        The Prius Plug-in is coming in at way too high of a price point. Does the Prius Plug-in get California HOV lane nod?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The Prius Plug-in is coming in at way too high of a price point.”

        If the press reports are accurate, then the Prius plug-in will have a price similar to the Volt, net of the tax credit.

        “The Volt does have a few things on the Plugin Prius — mostly a longer all-electric range”

        We’ll see what happens, but I would expect that this won’t matter in the short run — the Prius plug-in will outsell the Volt — and in the long run, GM may pay the price in the form of shorter battery life.

        The weak link of hybrids and EVs is the battery. GM opted to rely more heavily on the battery. For long-term reliability, that may very well prove to be a liability. If the laptop and mobile phone manufacturers of the world can’t figure it out, then I doubt that GM is going to do much better with maintaining the longevity of Li-ion batteries.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Pch101:
        The plugin Prius probably will outsell the Volt, but only because Volt production has been constrained. The Prius is a mass-market car with over a million copies on the road. (Hopefully the plugin Prius will also be a mass-market car.) The Volt really does appear to be a halo car for GM, while the regular Prius (at least) is a regular product for Toyota these days.

        The Volt owners have been basically getting the EPA numbers out of the battery, so they got that right at least. The Volt misses on flat-battery MPG — the Prius has a clear upside here, even if the Plugin Prius has a smaller battery.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “, I expect to see a great fight between two promising approaches.”

        You’re not including the Fusion, CMax, and Accord plug-ins. It’s going to be a 5 way battle in a very small market.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        GM has volt battery packs in life testing that have exceeded 200k miles without losing the 40 mile range ability. That pack has been designed very conservatively.. perhaps the first generation battery may turn out to be the most durable one, as GM learns and modifies the design.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        “The plugin Prius probably will outsell the Volt, but only because Volt production has been constrained.”

        GM has all-but ran through the initial market for the Volt (easily-duped greenies with more money than sense, and no grasp of the manufacturer’s history of failure.) Very few of those buyers remain.

        In comparison, the Prius has name recognition and the perception of Toyota quality on its side. The Volt has none of this. THAT is why the Prius will win, and handily.

        There is no reason to believe the Volt’s days aren’t numbered.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Rob Flintrock: “GM has all-but ran through the initial market for the Volt (easily-duped greenies with more money than sense, and no grasp of the manufacturer’s history of failure.) Very few of those buyers remain.”

        Uhh, not quite. I’ve been following the Volt since the beginning, and the demographic seems to be rich geeky guys with early adopter complexes. It’s the demographic of guys who could buy a Corvette, won’t because it’s too conventional.

        “Easily duped greenies” doesn’t describe these folks at all. Yes, a lot of them care about green technology — but that’s the only similarity with “easily duped greenies”.

        The real issue is that the Volt costs around $40k. How many cars can they sell at the luxury price-point $40k? How many could they sell at a more middle-class price-point of $28k? (Yesyes, the incentives and the lease deal, whatever, $40k is enough to scare *me* off.)

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        Regardless of our takes about the Volt demographics, Luke, I still find it difficult to accept your opinion that the Volt’s miserable failure (and there really isn’t any other way to describe it) is due to production constraints. Not when dealers are flat-out refusing to accept ANY Volts on their lots.

        GM is fighting its own past with the Volt; there simply aren’t enough people willing to take the extremely high risk of buying an “advanced” GM car. Against that significant stigma, not even Barry O’s proposed $10,000 tax break will help this pig.

  • avatar
    gmrn

    The internets say there is little substantive difference between the engine of Prius gen I vs II. So, regarding the engine and quoting from the author “essentially the same 73HP mill used in the first generation Prius”.
    No thanks.

    I am sincerely not trying to troll, thread jack, or offend the Prius faithful, but I wonder about owner provided data supporting the notion that the 2nd gen Prius was extremely reliable. I say this as my GF had a 2005 Prius (bought new) when we met in 2007. She had all required service work, oil changes, and even tire rotations done at the Toyota dealer. She also had a fair amount of warranty work performed prior to our meeting (I did not see receipts, but I trust work was done) some done after, and some not covered by warranty.
    She prudently bought a Toyota extended warranty when new, and after it expired, bought a 3rd party warranty. I advised against this as I was suspect of their likelihood of paying for a claim if needed. From ’07 up we had the pleasure of the following:

    -2008 AC stopped cooling. Warranty covered. Dealer stated she was “lucky” it was warrantable as the repair necessitated removal of dash and a host of interior components. Per dealer report the cost would have been ~$3k.

    -2009/2010 HID headlight failures. Some “secret warranty” coverage, but Toyota said “No more for you” after the 2nd replacement.

    -2010 HID auto-leveling unit on rear suspension crapped out (bad design allows water to enter = fail) This causes an omnipresent warning light on the dash. This same warning light is unaffected by dash light dimmer switch, so it became an unwelcome beacon during night driving. Not covered by warranty, no aftermarket part. I believe the part cost ~$300 from Toyota. The kindly Prius forum suggested a fix with a spring from a ball point pen. I did said fix, and thus resolved the problem for a negligible amount.

    -Summer of 2010 Faulty ignition coil pack (cylinder #3 or 4, I think).
    This happened after she was stopped at an intersection during a torrential downpour. A car passing by put up what she described as a “giant wave” of water onto her windshield. The car then, in her words “began to jerk and shake terribly ” when she attempted to drive. I suggested she have it towed to the dealer which she did. The next day the dealer called with a diagnosis of a bad coil and a non-warranty estimate. Forum search (a heartfelt “thank you” again to posters there) on this lovely mess showed a TSB for a bad seal on the firewall cowl trim (around the wiper blades) that allowed water to accumulate in the valley of the valve cover, where the coil pack liked to live and work. The dealer said “No” to a request for a gratis replacement. I had it towed to my home, replaced the faulty parts (that they identified) along with all 4 spark plugs. The car still ran horribly, and made a COLLOSAL racket. I chalked this up to some Atkinson cycle peculiarity unknown to me . A visual inspection of the other coil packs and plug boots proved unremarkable, but they did not look like the identified “dead” one from the dealer. I had it towed back to dealer, where they found “more faulty packs”. I bent over and authorized them to repair. Afterwards it ran normally, and quietly.

    Regardless, I increased the frequency of my advocating for her to trade this car as there had been other episodes not listed above, that had left her stranded at the dealer outside of normal service hours. She was looking at it from the vantage of the car nearly being paid off, and having a 3rd party warranty. I was looking at it from the perspective of having her stranded and not having a ride. She said she would ponder this whilst in Europe for 3 weeks.
    Which leads to the final chapter of this saga.

    – A week after she left for Europe, I was gently accelerating (I stress, gently as the ramp was quite long and had no one following) onto a freeway entrance ramp and a heard a loud “bang” followed by more violent jerking . While coasting to the side of the ramp I see a trail of fresh fluid on the road in my rear mirror. When I opened the hood I could only see a collection of fresh oil on the underbody tray. I presumed, incorrectly, that perhaps the filter had blown off or a oil cooler line had ruptured (I did not know if they were equipped with an oil cooler). I had it towed to the dealer. The following day they called. Rod-through-the-block syndrome was the diagnosis. Not good.
    I surmised that this may put a damper on her time in Europe. As such, I withheld this piece of information during our chats on the phone.
    Instead, I contacted the 3rd party warranty company. They lady on the phone empathetically expressed her concern over the inconvenience this must be causing, and was shockingly understanding when I asked if the repair could be done now vs. 2 weeks when my GF was due to return. She said we would need to wait to hear from their tech who would visit the dead car at the dealer the following day. Thankfully I received a call back from the warrant company confirming the engine destruction was not from any driver shenanigans or neglect, and stated they would cover a replacement engine and labor costs. Not a new one engine mind you, but a stated “14,000 mile” engine.
    A $100 deductable would be the only expense.
    The work was done and car was back before she returned from Europe.
    While driving back from the airport I ,casually, but tentatively, told her of the cars most recent adventure. She said “it’s time”.
    The Prius was traded on a new ’11 Sonata the following month. They offered her a less than expected, but they also weren’t privy to the recent heart transplant. This seemed a fair trade in our estimation.
    At trade in time her Prius had 8x,xxx miles. This seems like not a lot.

    A search of forums will substantiate many of the problems we experienced, and detailed above, though at the time of trade I saw no other mentions of thrown connecting rods.

    I have no doubt that there are lots of folks very happy with their Priores, but I wonder sometimes. How survey participants/owners are sharing their negativity about this polarizing car?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I guess that even Toyota can make a lemon now and then.

      Ours has been trouble-free.

      My Volkswagen Jetta, on the other hand, made me swear off of VAG products entirely.

      • 0 avatar
        gmrn

        “I guess that even Toyota can make a lemon now and then”.

        Yes. But more accurately, any company can.

        When I was trouble shooting these problems on this owned-since-new-always-dealer-serviced-never-abused-car I visited the prius-chat forum. Every issue I mentioned earlier was already known. After the con-rod catastrophe I did not return to research further. Although I did locate a nifty Prius salvage yard in Ohio. They gave an estimate of $1k for a used engine, installed. I will say, that did seem quite reasonable.

  • avatar
    nearprairie

    Doggone, 52+ mpg in a hybrid that actually looks decent and doesn’t cost a mint. I haven’t been this intrigued about rolling frugality since our ’79 VW Dasher diesel that got us through college on $10/month fuel costs.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    The interior looks atrocious in this thing. I can not imagine subjecting myself to that on a daily basis unless it got something like 1000 mpg. Or paid me to drive.

    Why can’t they style the interior more conventionally, instead of this wacky off the wall stuff?

    Exterior sheetmetal is not too bad, but still not for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Nobody’s asking you to buy a Prius!

      It’s an exceptional good car for what it is, but that doesn’t make it the all things to all people. Since you said above that you carpool to work and are looking for a fun-to-drive car on weekends, then the Prius probably isn’t a good fit for you.

      On the other hand, I’d buy one of these in a heartbeat if I had to commute from my house (2.5 miles from my current employer) to another major local employment center that’s about 50 miles away. I don’t want to do that, necessarily, but if I had to, the Prius C would likely be the right tool for me over that commute.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The 9.5 gallon tank is a way to save weight, in stead of carting 100lbs more fuel around they make you stop as often as you would in a normal car. Keep in mind the range is some 400+ miles of real world driving.

  • avatar
    banjopanther

    In the video, there was a display that read cruising range 280 miles. So does that mean I will have to visit the gas station just as often? I was hoping the high mileage would allow you to fill up half as often as a car that got 25mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The 2nd-gen Prius that I drive has a range of around 400 miles, just like every other car on the road. The tank is a around 10 gallons — or around half of the size of the thank on most 25mpg cars.

      So, you have to visit the pump just as often. But you pay half as much. During the highest fuel-price spike, my wife and I were shocked when we put $30 into the tank. She’s shocked every time we put $50 or $60 into the tank of our other car.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Never mind no cruise control or center armrest in the “one” model. You don’t get intermittent wipers?!?

    Talk about bean counting.

    I think it will sell less, 20 MPG penalty for 7 more HP in the Yaris and a truly crappy interior for close to the same money – it is a no brainer this is the better choice.

    It seems like this would compete very well in the B-segment. A Fiesta equipped up gets into the same price range, an LTZ Sonic is just under the entry point.

    Oh ya, Honda, just put a fork in the CR-Z and Insight. Well, on the CR-Z forget the hybrid version, put the 201 HP Si engine in it and call it good. The Insight – just kill it. Give up. Game over. Done.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      You get an intermittent setting, but its not adjustable. You get High, low and some 10 second interval.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      The CRZ really needs the SI engine. I was so sorely disappointed in its performance, and visibilitiy. It also needs better seats. I was pretty uncomfortable after about five minutes during my 30 minute test drive.

      It was not nearly as fun as I remember my buddies gf’s 1988 CRX was, or as comfortable.

      Oh Honda, I can still remember the magic your cars used to have…

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Somebody above mentioned the so-called “dead weight” of the battery pack. I don’t know how heavy the packs are in the Prius C or V models, but in my 2004, it only weighs about 100 pounds. The car weighs in at 3,780 something-something pounds. Without me in it!

    100/3800= .026 or 2.6%

    Now, if you add in the hybrid drivetrain (motor-generators, housings, connective components, etc), the wiring, electrical inverters and their associated cooling equipment, and computer components, that may add a bit more weight to the car.

    But the batteries themselves are not that heavy, and are probably even lighter than your wife or girlfriend.

    Another little-known tidbit: the Hybrid Synergy Drive (the planetary gearset) is very small; it can fit in the palm of your hand.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I’ve always liked the Yaris, but never liked the Prius or any hybrid for that matter, however I like this car and I’m not sure why either.

  • avatar
    minneapolis_lakers

    Using an Apple analogy ;)

    Prius= ipod

    Prius V=ipad

    Prius C= ipod nano

  • avatar
    maryann

    Woman driver here, be nice fellas. I live in Atlantic Canada and our winters can get pretty cold. I’m curious if anyone knows if subzero temperatures will prematurely shorten the lifespan of the Prius c batteries? I don’t trust the salespeople because, unfortunately, they’ll tell you exactly what you want to hear to sell you a car. I’m on the fence about buying a Prius just for this reason. I know the cold weather here is hard on regular car batteries that costs $$$$ less than a hybrid battery.


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