By on July 25, 2017

2018 Toyota Prius C - Image: Toyota.comIt started last year. Toyota, in concert with upgrading the Prius C with Toyota Safety Sense C added a matte black bodykit to the lower portions of the 2017 Prius C.

But for 2018, the Toyota Prius C is a veritable off-roader — a Rubicon-rolling, 4×4 river-fording FJ Cruiser successor.

The 2018 Prius C’s black cladding reaches up and around the wheel arches, and that cladding is interrupted at the Prius C’s chin by skidplate-aping metallic accents, heaven forfend.

2018 Toyota Prius C rear - Image: Toyota.comAlthough the Toyota Prius C has migrated from the passenger car world to the trail-running SUV arena with nary a ride height increase and the same front-wheel-drive architecture, Toyota has managed to avoid fuel economy degradation. The 2018 Prius C is rated at 48 miles per gallon city, 43 highway, and 46 mpg combined, same as before.

More seriously, is crossoveresque styling enough to spur a measure of demand for the oft-rejected Prius C? Relatively uncommon upon its debut, U.S. Prius C sales peaked at 41,979 units in 2013, its first full year. But by 2016, sales were less than half that strong, plunging 47 percent from 2015 levels. Compared with last year’s poor performance, sales through the first half of 2017 tumbled a further 39 percent. Only 7,049 Prius Cs were sold in America during the first six months of 2017.

So far this year, the Prius C’s share of America’s subcompact market has fallen to 3.6 percent (from 4.8 percent a year ago) as Toyota generates the bulk of its subcompact sales with the Mazda 2-based Toyota Yaris iA. The Yaris iA and Yaris hatchback combine to outsell the Prius C by nearly four-to-one.

With no meaningful mechanical upgrades, the 2018 Toyota Prius C will still be the car that, according to Car And Driver, accelerates from 0-60 miles per hour in 10.9 seconds. Don’t expect to be thrilled, unless of course you leave the pavement and head up a mountain pass in the middle of a post-mudslide snowstorm.

The 2018 Toyota Prius C has a base price of $21,525, up almost $500 compared with the 2017 Toyota Prius C One.

[Images: Toyota]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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14 Comments on “Oh No They Didn’t: Overnight, Toyota Turns 2018 Prius C Into a Land Cruiser Pretender...”

  • avatar

    I like it. The plastic in the wheel wells will help here in the rust belt.

    They need to do that on all pickups as a standard feature.

    • 0 avatar

      The plastic cladding actually traps dirt and moisture, making it harder to clean. This accelerates rust rather than retarding it.

      You’re better off going the spray bedliner route if you want protection.

    • 0 avatar

      Plastic cladding is a rust accelerator.
      Rust is already a standard feature on all pickups in the salty roads regions.

  • avatar

    Looks like useful protection from parking lot dings to me.

    Not “zomg crossover lulz!!”

  • avatar

    Prius C – now with a 2 mpg advantage on the highway versus Camry, and none of that pesky 200 hp or quick 0-60 times…..

  • avatar

    This will be an interesting experiment – Give a facelift consisting of plastic cladding and other cheesy trim bits to a hybrid and see if sales pick up on a car that’s very efficient in the $2/gallon gas era, and still very slow.

    Good luck, Toyota!

    • 0 avatar

      Slow? I just drove 500 miles in my ’16 C and had no problem doing 80-85 if needed. And got 48 mpg doing it. Wonderful little econo box car. Shame more people in America can’t embrace cheap little hatches. We love it.

  • avatar

    I test-drove a C. It’s horribly slow, and pressing down the pedal further accomplishes nothing.

    The worst enemy of a Prius C is a used Prius. A 3-year-old Prius costs the same or less than a new Prius C, and is unarguably a better car by every measure, save the size of the parking space it takes up in the city.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Nobody remembers Toyota Echo and its styling? B&B I’m disappoint.

  • avatar

    The reason for promoting black plastic cladding is that it looks like crap after a few years and so lowers the value of used cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Landau Calrissian

      That makes no sense; why would Toyota want lower residual values? Cheaper used cars only makes them look more appealing vs a new one. Higher resale helps them offer more competitive lease rates too.

  • avatar

    Now folks will buy them and say they bought a hybrid CUV, blissfully unaware that they have a…wait for it…wait for it…hatchback!

    Watch for sales to climb!

    (said slightly tongue in cheek)

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