2012 Toyota Prius C Track Test

Track-Testing Toyota's Baby Prius

Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

As of this writing, our long-term 2012 Toyota Prius C is the most fuel-efficient car we've ever had in our long-term fleet. The small, 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine hooked to a pair of electric motors has pushed our Prius through the 40-mpg barrier and is currently returning an average of 44.9 mpg.

But that's only part of the story. The new baby Prius was decontented to help offset the cost of the hybrid system. While that means some less-than-stellar materials and some serious wind/road noise, it also means the Prius C is the lightest car in the Prius family and when we hear lightness, we think performance.

So along with being cheaper and more fuel-efficient — the 2012 Toyota Prius C returns 53 city/46 highway and 50 mpg combined while the Prius does 51/48 and 50 combined — is the C also the best-handling Prius (a low bar) available? We took it to the track to find out.

Odometer: 1,330
Date: 7/24/2012
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $23,470 as tested

Drive Type: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: CVT
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated Atkinson-cycle inline four-cylinder with two electric motors
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,497/91
Redline (rpm): Not indicated
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 73 @ 4,800 (99 @ 4,800 when combined with electric motors)
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 82 @ 4,000
Brake Type (front): 10-inch ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 9-inch drums
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Semi-independent twist-beam axle, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, integrated stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): P175/65R15 (84H)
Tire Size (rear): P175/65R15 (84H)
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: Turanza EL400 02
Tire Type: Low rolling resistance, all-season
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,562

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 3.6 (Traction control is nondefeat, all numbers are TC on)
0-45 (sec): 6.5
0-60 (sec): 10.8
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 10.4
0-75 (sec): 16.9
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 17.8 @ 76.9

30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 127

Slalom (mph): 59.2
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.72

Db @ Idle: 42.8
Db @ Full Throttle: 70.2
Db @ 70-mph Cruise: 64.8
RPM @ 70: 2,400


Acceleration: It mattered not if I selected "D" or "B." The Prius C is slow. There's just no way around this fact. I don't recall Prii being this loud; however, both engine and wind noise are pretty extreme. I was almost able to recapture the electricity spent on the quarter-mile on the coast-down following the run.

Braking: Quite a large nosedive and some rear-end wiggle. Consistently firm pedal and stopping distances despite the light rear. Shortest distance was on 4th stop.


Skid pad: Reasonably high threshold before ESC (nondefeatable) trims brakes/throttle. Steering also is more lifelike than I remember a Prius having — adequate build-up, less artificial spring-back. Good impressions, so-so results.

Slalom: Surprisingly "pointy" and good in transitions — right up until nondefeat ESC dabs brakes. Still much sportier and capable than similar hybrids. As with skid pad, feels better than the numbers suggest.