Between the launch of all-new Toyota Prius (including Prius Prime) and the discontinuation of the larger Prius v, it might be easy to forget about that the remaining Prius hybrid family member, the 2018 Toyota Prius c. Like the ill-fated Prius v, the subcompact Prius c hasn’t received any major changes since it was first introduced in 2012, but it does have one thing going for it – it is the most-affordable hybrid currently offered in the U.S. For that reason alone, this baby Prius probably won’t get phased out anytime soon, and to make matters better, Toyota has given the 2018 Toyota Prius c a fresh new look.
2018 Toyota Prius c Exterior
To keep up with Toyota’s bolder and edgier design languages, the exterior of the 2018 Toyota Prius c has been updated to give this hybrid hatchback a more modern, crossover-like appearance. For starters, the entire front end has been redesigned with more streamlined LED headlights and a new split grille. The other big change is the addition of gray cladding along the bottom of the car and around the wheel arches, which is an obvious design element of modern CUVs – as is the faux skid plate up front and the vertical rear reflectors. A body color rear spoiler and restyled LED taillights round out the visual differences in this design.
In addition to its new looks, this tester also rides on optional 16-inch wheels (a $395 option) and wears an attention-grabbing paint job, a new-for-2018-color called Tide Pool Pearl (which will set you back another $300). While relatively minor, these changes go a long way in keeping the aged Prius c’s design up to date.
2018 Toyota Prius c Interior
While its new exterior breathes new life into the 2018 Toyota Prius c, the interior shows this car’s age. The cabin lacks the overall attention to detail that newer subcompacts like the Honda Fit and Chevrolet Spark display with the biggest offenses being the dated steering wheel, the poorly positioned cup holders and the misalignment in the instrument panel and door panels. Sure, an interior overhaul is far more expensive than a quick facelift, but this cabin is definitely a step below other cars in this segment.
The form might be lacking, but the overall function is still there. First, you get the centrally located digital gauge cluster, which is a staple of Prius cabin design, and it is easy to use with a clear display showing lots of pertinent information. My favorite part of the Prius c’s interior is the pair cubby trays found on each side of the instrument panel above the steering wheel and the glove box. Fortunately, this tester came in the Prius c’s top “Four” trim level adding heated front seats, Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite and Toyota’s SofTex faux leather material used on the steering wheel and perforated seats.
Being a subcompact, interior space is at a premium, but the 2018 Toyota Prius c still has lots of passenger space. There is plenty of room between the front seats (and an armrest, too!), while the curved seatbacks result in ample legroom for rear passengers. In fact, the sloping roofline will probably limit headroom before taller occupants run out of legroom. The Prius c can hold 17.1 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats, but they can also be folded down to accommodate bulkier gear.
2018 Toyota Prius c Powertrain
Under that new hood is the same 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder mated to a continuously variable transmission and a 60-hp electric motor. Total system output (with the engine and batteries in operation) is rated at a mere 99 horsepower, but this is surprisingly adequate for the 2,530-pound hybrid. This results in EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 48 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway**, and my week with the tester averaged 47.4 mpg according to the digital readout. As if infrequent fill-ups weren’t good enough, the actual fill-ups themselves will be very frugal thanks to the tiny 9.5-gallon gas tank.
Toyota says that the “c” in the 2018 Toyota Prius c stands for “city,” and that’s exactly where this car excels. Steering is quick and light, and its small size makes parallel parking a breeze. Merging onto highways and interstates, however, is a different story where the hard acceleration is terrifyingly loud and slow. If you needed proof that the Prius c isn’t intended for acceleration runs, its top speed is limited to just 105 mph. Once up to speed, though, this hatchback has a smooth ride being a comfortable and efficient option for long daily commutes.
2018 Toyota Prius c Safety
The 2018 Toyota Prius c earns a four-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Standard safety equipment includes nine airbags, Toyota Safety Sense C (includes Pre-Collision System, Land Departure Alert and automatic high beams) and Toyota’s Star Safety System (includes Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brake System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology).
2018 Toyota Prius c Overall
The highlight of the 2018 Toyota Prius c is its new look, which should really add at least a couple years to the subcompact’s shelf life, but the biggest reason to consider buying this car is its unbeatable combination of efficiency and value. The starting price of $20,630* makes this the lowest-price hybrid on the market, and even the well-equipped Prius c Four trim level is still reasonable priced with this car having an as-tested price of $26,779. That’s about $5,000 more than the Yaris (and considerably more than most other subcompact hatchbacks), but it’s also a huge bargain when compared to newer, larger and better hybrid options including the Prius and Hyundai Ionic.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Toyota dealership and test drive the 2018 Toyota Prius c today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.