Reasonably priced; outstanding fuel economy; decent handling; plenty of features.
Hard plastic interior; premium seats and wheels have drawbacks.
As the quintessential high-mpg hybrid, the Toyota Prius is certainly one of the most successful sales stories of the new millennium. Despite its being knocked for lifeless driving dynamics and a slightly elevated price tag, shoppers have flocked to the Prius for its remarkable fuel economy. With this sort of success in mind, it was only a matter of time until Prius spin-offs would debut.
The 2012 Toyota Prius C is the newest addition to the Prius lineup, with the "C" standing for city. It's smaller than the traditional Prius (now called the liftback) and the even larger Prius V. Besides being 19 inches shorter in length than the liftback, the Prius C also receives a downsized drivetrain. A 1.5-liter gasoline engine (the liftback has a 1.8-liter unit) and smaller motor-generators get the Prius C moving. Considering the C weighs about 540 pounds less than the liftback, performance doesn't take a significant hit from the less powerful unit.
What is more significant about the Prius C, however, is the bottom line. A base Prius C will cost you about $4,000 less than the liftback while delivering a very impressive 50 mpg EPA rating for combined driving. On top of this, the C is noticeably more fun to drive, with greater cornering abilities and improved driver feedback.
Of course, competition is still rather sparse in the hybrid segment, and the Prius C has few rivals. The Honda Insight is priced competitively, but we have found that there are far too many compromises to contend with. Conventionally powered hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent are more worthy adversaries. In the end, the 2012 Toyota Prius C represents an admirable choice among hatchbacks and hybrids alike.
As with the entire Prius lineup, the 2012 Toyota Prius C is powered by both a traditional gasoline engine and a pair of electric motor-generators. The smaller Prius C makes do with smaller drivetrain components, however. Providing power to the wheels and generators is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 73 horsepower and 82 pound-feet of torque. The two electric motor-generators bring the overall output total to 99 hp. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) routes power to the front wheels.
In Edmunds testing, this Prius C accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a rather reluctant 11.3 seconds. Coming to a stop from that speed yielded much better results, as the car does the job in 118 feet, which is about average for compact cars. While power delivery is far from impressive, the crucial numbers here involve miles per gallon and the Prius C is definitely a champ in this respect. The EPA estimates 53 city/46 highway mpg and 50 mpg in combined driving, which is the highest rating in the EPA book for anything other than a high-tech plug-in hybrid. In our testing, we averaged 48.9 mpg.
The 2012 Toyota Prius C won't astound anyone with sports-car handling, but there are a few surprises. Though the Prius liftback is typically thought to be lifeless and uninspiring when it comes to handling, the Prius C delivers a significantly better experience. The steering, though a bit numb, is fairly quick and accurate, while the suspension keeps the little hatchback well planted and confidently nimble. Better still, this added road holding does not come at the expense of ride comfort.
We would, however, caution against the 16-inch wheel option. These wheels and tires are also wider, and do not allow for as much fender clearance as the stock 15-inchers. As a result, Toyota has had to engineer the car with a turning radius that is wider by a whopping 6 feet, and the result will be more three-point turns instead of the simple, preferred and safer U-turn.
As an entry-level hybrid the 2012 Toyota Prius C follows a rather modest approach when it comes to its manners on the road, with an overall impression that is similar to any number of economy hatchbacks. Road imperfections are definitely felt throughout the cabin, but at no point does the car feel skittish or unsettled. Road and wind noise are noticeable, yet rarely intrusive.
With one exception, the average male adult should find that all seats provide an acceptable amount of head- and legroom. That exception would be the front passenger seat. The low-mounted glovebox intrudes into the footwell, placing it directly in front of the knees of the unlucky passenger. It's a little disconcerting when you imagine a frontal impact and a little inconvenient when you try to access the bin's contents.
Glovebox placement notwithstanding, the Prius C's cabin is perfectly acceptable for the average commute or long-range road trip. Outward visibility is excellent and aided by the instruments atop the dash that are right in the driver's sight lines. There are also plenty of medium-size bins and pockets to store drinks, phones and assorted personal items.
As our Prius C test vehicle was delivered in range-topping Four trim, there were also plenty of bells and whistles at our disposal. Toyota's Entune smartphone integration system not only allows for iPod control, but also adds navigation, Bing search functions, streaming Internet audio and traffic, sports and stock information. Operation through the 6-inch touchscreen is intuitive enough to not require a trip through the owner's manual, but the stereo's sound quality is merely adequate.
Prius C cargo capacity is comparable to the typical compact hatchback, with an accommodating 17.1 cubic feet of storage behind the 60/40-split folding rear seats. Shoppers with small children should be aware that a rear-facing child seat will force the front passenger uncomfortably close to the dash and intruding glovebox.
Design/Fit and Finish
From the outside, the 2012 Toyota Prius C has plenty of styling cues that keep it firmly planted in the Prius family. At the same time, there is enough hatchback personality to differentiate it from the spaceship/microvan shapes of its rivals. The interior continues this theme with carryover Prius elements, with the centrally located gauges and unique ovoid steering wheel. Unlike other Prii, the C comes with a traditional console shifter and parking brake instead of the odd joystick gear selector and push-button brake found in its relatives.
At the same time, the Prius C is also infused with a healthy dose of entry-level econobox furnishings. Elbow touch points are barely padded, while every other surface seems made of a flimsy plastic. Compared to other hatchbacks in this price range, the Prius C's cabin is a bit of a letdown. We were particularly disappointed by the SofTex-trimmed seats, which are touted as an eco-friendly alternative to leather. The material was as far from leather as we could have imagined, feeling more like a strange plastic fabric that reminded us of a doctor's examination table.
Who should consider this vehicle
If you're in the market for a compact city car, the 2012 Toyota Prius C is hard to beat. It's also hard to beat if you're looking for a hybrid on a budget, as it undercuts the regular Prius by a healthy margin. The Prius C is priced right in the same ballpark as Honda's Insight and CR-Z hybrids, but we would take the Toyota over them any day. Furthermore, with the hybrid engine, you wouldn't be tethered to a limited travel radius as you would in an electric car, which means the Prius C could be your sole vehicle.
As it is, we rank the Prius C highly, preferring it in some ways over its larger Prius cousins, mostly for its livelier driving dynamics, although a terrifically affordable price sure doesn't hurt.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2012 Toyota Prius c Overview
The 2012 Toyota Prius c is offered in the following submodels: Hatchback. Available styles include Two 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), Three 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), and One 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). Prius c models are available with a 1.5 l-liter hybrid engine, with output up to 99 hp, depending on engine type. The 2012 Prius c comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic. The 2012 Prius c comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 2 yr./ 25000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2012 Toyota Prius c?
Save up to $300 on one of 25 used 2012 Toyota Prius cs for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $8472 as of Dec 15, 2017, based on data from 18 dealers and 51 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 1 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2012 Toyota Prius c trim styles:
The 2012 Toyota Prius c Three is priced around $11460 with average odometer reading of 62248 miles.
The 2012 Toyota Prius c One is priced around $8790 with average odometer reading of 75423 miles.
The 2012 Toyota Prius c Four is priced around $10850 with average odometer reading of 73645 miles.
The 2012 Toyota Prius c Two is priced around $10715 with average odometer reading of 72241 miles.
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Is the 2012 Toyota Prius c a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2012 Toyota Prius c and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2012 Prius c featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2012 Toyota Prius c? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2012 Toyota Prius c and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2012 Prius c 4.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2012 Prius c.
Review I just put 500 miles on my Prius C Three. I traded my 2010 Toyota Matrix for it. I'm glad to report I'm getting exact EPA mileage, and then some. No regrets! This subcompact is not for racing. You want to race get something else. I have no problems merging in freeway traffic and its size and excellent steering allow me to maneuver in city traffic easily. The seats offer plenty of support and adjust in enough positions to allow me to drive comfortably. The AC cools the interior quickly and I live in South Texas where the daytime temperature is already at 90 degrees. This model is very well equipped for the price. This is an excellent little car that does everything its supposed to do well.
2012 Toyota Prius c inventory listings Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Toyota Prius c for sale near Ashburn VA. There are currently 136 new and 124 used and CPO 2012 Prius cs listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as 7992 and mileage as low as 39961. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a car from our massive database to find cheap vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a vehicle you're interested in, check the Carfax and autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the 2012 Toyota Prius c. Then select Edmunds special offers, perks, deals, and incentives to contact the dealer of your choice and save up to 300 on a new, used, or CPO 2012 Prius c available from one of 2806 dealerships in your area.
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2012 toyota prius-c Two 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), continuously variable-speed automatic, regular unleaded 50 combined MPG 53 city MPG/46 highway MPG
2012 toyota prius-c Three 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), continuously variable-speed automatic, regular unleaded 50 combined MPG 53 city MPG/46 highway MPG
2012 toyota prius-c One 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), continuously variable-speed automatic, regular unleaded 50 combined MPG 53 city MPG/46 highway MPG
What options are available on the 2012 Toyota Prius c?
Available Toyota Prius c 2012 Submodel Types: Hatchback
Available Trims: Two, Three, Four, One, Persona Series Special Edition
Exterior Colors: Tide Pool Pearl, Tangerine Splash Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Blue Streak Metallic, Habanero, Black Sand Pearl w/Cherry Pearl Accents, Sparkling Sea Metallic, Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, Sandstorm, Summer Rain Metallic, Super White, Moonglow
Interior Colors: Dark Blue/Black cloth, Light Blue Gray/Black cloth, Light Blue Grey leatherette, Gray cloth, Black leatherette, Light Blue Gray leatherette
Popular Features: Upgraded Headlights, Back-up camera, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Keyless Entry/Start, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Aux Audio Inputs, Bluetooth, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, USB Inputs, Heated seats, Navigation, Sunroof/Moonroof