These Wheels Are Simple for a Reason - 2012 Toyota Prius c Long-Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Prius c Long-Term Road Test

2012 Toyota Prius C: These Wheels Are Simple for a Reason

June 6, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Most people don't realize how much time and energy manufacturers go through when it comes to selecting wheels and tires for a car. Appearance is way down the priority list after more important things like strength, durability, price, ride quality and noise.

Clearly, the wheels on our Prius C were selected for their cost (steel) and aerodynamic properties (relatively smooth plastic wheel covers) while the tires were all about durability, minimal rolling resistance and noise. They're not a pretty combination, but this car is about maximum efficiency right?

Well, judging from the numerous Prius models I see on my daily commute, efficiency is secondary to their owners as more than half the Priuses I see have aftermarket wheels and tires on them. Yep, their owners spent all that money to get the most efficient car possible and then torpedo the whole thing with bigger, heavier wheels and stickier, low-profile tires.

Can't blame them for wanting to make their cars look better, but I'm guessing they have no idea how detrimental their vanity upgrades are to the efficiency of their Prius.

Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor @ 16,245 miles


  • group17 group17 Posts:

    Bought new better looking hub caps for my C3. Have not noticed any change in mileage. The ones that come with the car are too ugly.

  • seppoboy seppoboy Posts:

    Or possibly they are trying to save their necks from a roadgoing disaster. Both Prius I have driven have had standard wheels and tires and were so squirrely I could not imagine owning one. There was nothing about the turning, braking, and roadholding that was one bit reassuring or confidence inspiring. Upgrading tires alone can at least make these contraptions begin to resemble a modern car in its roadworthiness.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Same people who think electricity just "comes from the wall" for free and that all the materials and chemicals used in batteries just magically appear at no carbon cost on the production line, out of thin air.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    @seppoboy You could say that about many cars on OEM tyres. The last model of SUV I bought was a bit of a wobbly goblin in a straight line. The dealerships used to pump up the tyres to 40PSI whenever one went for service to stop the customers griping. Went

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Those are 15.5 pounds apiece, plus call it half a pound for the wheel cover and that's 16 pounds. That's terrible for a 15" X 5" wheel. If they really cared all that much about weight, they would have gone with an alloy wheel of that size. Even a cast wheel would have been probably 14.5-15 pounds. My forged 17" X 7" Centerlines are 15.5 pounds. I suspect this was more about saving dollars than it is about saving weight, and I think that the people with the plus-one alloy wheels he sees driving around are not paying much of a weight penalty compared to stock. Those Turanzas are some of the worst tires you can get - this Prius C handled and braked worse in Edmunds' track test than the 4500-lb. Sienna minivan they had. I think trading in a few tenths of a mpg for better braking and handling than a minivan might be worth it.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    I don't think that aftermarket wheels and tires are going to make a large difference in mpg. You'd probably see a bigger dent from using the AC, so stop cooling your car since "...this car is about maximum efficiency right?"

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    The tires can be worth 2-3 mpg depending on how sticky/wide your new tires are, and even more depending on inflation pressure. It's pretty substantial actually. That being said, the tires and wheels are obviously chosen here for cost, since Toyota had to skimp on things for the low price of the C. I would revise one of my earlier statements and say that they should get rid of the rear wiper and install better tires/wheels.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    I doubt the tire stores are trying to deter those big $ purchases. I also doubt non auto-enthusiasts or engineers understand unsprung weight, tire design, and the effects on fuel economy. On the other hand, even the educated are willing to trade efficiency for handling, braking, etc improvements over what many LRR hard donuts can dish out. Personal choice.

  • morrisg2_ morrisg2_ Posts:

    Yup, I added aftermarket wheels and tires to my Prius C. I chose Konig Heliums at 11 lbs per wheel (lighter than the steel wheel) and Yokohama Envigor summer tires in the OEM size. I also have winter Michelin XIce 3 tires on the OEM steel wheels for winter conditions. These tires have excellent traction and braking ability and perform better in emergency maneuvers than the OEM Goodyears. So that's a big peace of mind thing for me when the wife drives. So what's my mpg hit? I don't know since I didn't drive on the OEM tires very long, maybe 200 miles. But I do keep records and over the 3548 miles travelled we have averaged 45.96 mpg, which is mostly city with some hills in our neighborhood. So that's one data point for everyone to consider when thinking about replacing the OEM tires and wheels. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

  • farfle farfle Posts:

    Ran across this whilst googling for new rims on my--you guessed it--Summer Rain Prius C! I'm all about utility over vanity, so you've set me straight..for now. However, I still think this color would look a lot better with different wheels. That said, surely there must be SOME rim out there that offers nearly the same level of MPG efficiencies as the stock black wheelies right?

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