It Really Does Do 50 MPG - 2012 Toyota Prius c Long-Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Prius c Long-Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Prius C: It Really Does Do 50 MPG

April 22, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Until I drove this long-termer, I hadn't driven a Toyota Prius since before 2000. It was a right-hand-drive, pre-production model, so back then the car was more a novelty than anything else. For the last few years my driving experience has mostly been with European machinery, and frankly, it's sort of made me a snob. I approached the Prius C looking down my nose at it.

My personal ride is a Volkswagen TDI that does no worse than 38 mpg in the city, which I always thought was pretty great, so I set out determined to prove that this hybrid wasn't so superior to my own car in terms of fuel economy. I mean, how much better could it possibly be?

I wasn't going for any kind of hyper-mile excursion to try and wring every last possible mile out of the gallon. I wanted to drive the Prius just like I'd drive my car: freeway driving and a lot of puttering around town. I logged 271.1 miles in the process of burning a half tank of fuel. Afterward, I topped the tank with 5.292 gallons of gas. By doing the simple math, you can see that my stint driving around town netted 51.228 mpg overall.

Simply put, the Prius whooped the TDI's butt and I stand corrected.

Karl Funke, Associate Vehicle Coordinator @ 16,040 miles


  • motorstreet motorstreet Posts:

    My TDI gets 55mpg on the highway, is a very high quality car, cost less than a loaded Prius c, doesn't feel dangerous, has tons of space, is fun fun to drive, has a real transmission, I could continue for pages. The Prius C might be more fuel efficient in the city, but that is literally the only thing it does better than a TDI. Good city mileage is this car's only strength and that is why it's a truly awful car.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    The Prius is an "awful car" because Toyota made it that way (i.e. cheap). The powertrain is actually pretty advanced, proven over a decade of low warranty, the fuel economy is real, and it achieves that using regular fuel. Note that neither this particular hybrid powertrain or your typical slow-revving diesel are "fun" engines, so talking about any of these cars on fun terms is like two kids in the shortbus arguing about who is smarter. They're not Toyobarus or STs. Interestingly enough, C&D recently ran an article comparing all of the Jetta's powertrain options, and they liked the hybrid more than the TDI even though it's one of VW's first hybrids and they've been heavily advertising their TDI engines. Oops.

  • nyccarguy nyccarguy Posts:

    The 50 mpg that this car and cars of Prius owners get during real world driving is impressive. I see them everywhere. Some set their cruise @ 60 in the left lane & other ride your rear end when you are going 80+. The fact that the editor's personal vehicle is a TDI give the Prius C a lot of credibility in my book. He stated he drive the car around town & did some freeway driving too. They (hybrids) just can't be THAT bad with so many running around. From a driver's prospective, a diesel is a much more engaging car to drive. I had a 2011 BMW 335d as a loaner once and the torque is simply addicting. I got a solid 10 more mpg in it than I do in my 328xi without even trying. Some people obsess about gas mileage. 50 mpg is impressive though (it is more than double what I get in my BMW). Personally, I don't. Whatever mpg I get, I still pay the same amount to fill my car up at the end of the week.

  • "Whatever mpg I get, I still pay the same amount to fill my car up at the end of the week." --- that doesn't make sense. Unless you leave your car idling to empty the tank out in the ones where you get better mpg. Or drive extra until you are on empty each week.--- If you fill up your car once a week and get 25 mpg then you'd only fill it once every two weeks at 50 mpg....

  • nyccarguy nyccarguy Posts:

    Sorry if my post wasn't clear. If I get say 25 mpg average doing straight highway driving or if I sit in a lot of traffic and do lots of city driving & average 19 mpg, it still costs $x to fill up. I was referring to my personal car. Yes, a 50 mpg hybrid would allow me to fill up once every 2 weeks as opposed to once a week.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    Still doesn't make sense. Your weekly cost will vary depending on the price of fuel, the amount of driving you do, and your fuel economy. Let's say you drive a consistent 200 miles a week. In one week you average 20 mpg with gas costing $4.00/gal, this will cost you $40 to fill up at the end of the week. Then say you average 25 mpg the next week and the price of gas has dropped to $3.50/gal, now it only costs you $28 to fill up at the end of the week. Unless you just buy a flat $30 in fuel every week?

  • nyccarguy nyccarguy Posts:

    greenpony - yes my fuel cost vary depending on the price of fuel. The amount of driving I do pretty much remains the same. 65 miles round trip, 6 days per week. Today I took 16 gallons of 93 octane @ $4.01/gallon. It cost me $64.16. If gas was $3.50/gallon, the 16 gallons I took on would have cost me $56.00. Obviously I'd rather gas be cheaper, but the $8 per week isn't going to make or break me. If traffic was light and I was able to use my cruise control (a lot), it cost me $64.16 to fill up. If I sat in a lot of traffic and kept my car above 80 when traffic allows (and the CT & NY troopers aren't looking), it still would have cost me $64.16 to fill up today.

  • scorpion73 scorpion73 Posts:

    @ Motorstreet: "My TDI gets 55mpg on the highway" Nope. Try again. Only way TDI gets 55mpg is at 55mph, downhill, with a tailwind. "is a very high quality car" Wrong again. VW has had loads of quality issues in past. Toyota's quality

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