Beyond Squishy - 2012 Toyota Prius c Long-Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Prius c Long-Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Prius C: Beyond Squishy

May 20, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

My brother drives a 2012 Toyota Prius V and loves it except for one thing: the driving experience is "squishy." By that he means the soft suspension and the disconnected feeling of the CVT. My brother says the squishy feeling doesn't bother him because he's getting amazing fuel economy.

I took our Prius C to reacquaint myself with the driving experience of this little hybrid and here's my open email to my brother.

Hey Pete: I took the Edmunds' Prius C and I agree with you about the squishy ride. It's not noticeable until you really ask it to accelerate hard or pass a slower car. Then the whirring is pretty irritating and makes it feel even slower than it really is. Your Prius V has a bigger engine so it's probably not this bad. But, like you, most people are going to use this as a commuter car and they'll be stuck in traffic with nothing to look at except the readout that says they're getting 51 mpg. That will make them feel good.

As you know, I've been commuting for the past two years in a Nissan Leaf and I like the ride quality of it a lot. Although both cars are "green" the Leaf couldn't be more different. It's not actually fast but it feels quick and responsive. And it doesn't have a CVT. In fact, it doesn't have any transmission at all. So, for the 75 miles of range I get, I'll really enjoy it. After that, I'll wish I had a Prius.

Safe driving, Phil

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 15,556 miles


  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    "...until you really ask it to accelerate hard or pass a slower car." With 99 horsepower, there are not going to be many cars that are actually slower. I understand what you and your brother are talking about, but there are actually a lot of cars that do what you guys want (slightly sporty, not completely gutless but with very good fuel economy). This car was from concept designed to do NOTHING BUT return stellar fuel economy and be cheap(ish). It seems odd to complain about things the car wasn't going for... Example: "My Caterpillar asphalt layer is just about perfect, except for the dismal top speed."

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    We are talking about a publication that complained about lack of power seats in the Focus ST... when they didn't check the options box for power seats. So no surprises here. That being said, hopefully Toyota can squeeze every penny and offer more refinement and a better interior for similar price on the next gen Prius C.

  • spdracerut_ spdracerut_ Posts:

    I went on a road trip with some friends to Phoenix from LA in a Prius. I really hated driving that thing. Steering feel? What's that? Might as well have given me a Playstation or Xbox controller. Handling was 'squishy' as described. I went home for the holidays and drove my dad's Leaf around. The Leaf was actually fun! Instant throttle respone and heaps of low-end for pulling away from low speeds. I actually did a timed comparison between the Leaf and my G35 sedan (manual, 298hp engine), and the Leaf was actually faster 5-30mph. The handling also has a nice balance of firmness/roll resistance and ability to soak up bumps. It probably helps the heavy batteries are placed as low as they can go. The Leaf was fun, the Prius was far from it. I traded in the G35 for a Lexus CT200h. Sure, it takes a bit of a mileage hit compared to the Prius, but it's a far superior handling vehicle. Steering feel is still sorely lacking, but at least the steering has some weight to it. The 215 wide tires, while hurting mpg, greatly improve road holding. I'm getting 44mpg (hand calculated, the onboard computer reads 5% high) and still have fun in the corners. As for driving a really slow car, I was in Europe and I was in a Mazda 2 with four full-size adults. I did manage to pass one car up in the mountains with that poor 72hp diesel screaming. Talk about an exercise in setting up a pass; it took about 10 tries of setting it up by getting creating a gap and getting running start on the car in front of me heading into the corner. At corner exit, I had to peek to see if there was enough straight to make the pass.

  • throwback throwback Posts:

    I actually consider the Prius (regular?) to have a fairly harsh ride. It is softly sprung but the thing does not ride well. I agree about the Leaf. When I test drove one (2 actually) the car felt pretty well tied down. My guess is the low CG and fairly heavy battery weight require firm springs. The steering on the other hand is as devoid of feel as the Prius. If I had a 50 mile or less round trip I would take the Leaf.

  • group17 group17 Posts:

    Because the c gets better gas milage in city traffic I don't use the turnpike to drive to work and back any more. I smile knowing I'm getting over 50MPG vs the old 30 MPG on the turnpike. Plus I don't have to pay turnpike tolls that keep going up. Only adds 10 mins to my commute.

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