2012 Toyota Prius C: And Then I Went to San Diego
March 26, 2013
Days after I returned from Arizona spring training, our long-term 2012 Toyota Prius C and I hit the road again for San Diego. It's a much shorter drive, but would our hybrid hatchback wear out its welcome after two road trips in a week?
See, the Prius C is one of those cars that look terribly unexciting on the surface: It's a subcompact with a hybrid drivetrain, 99 total horsepower, steel wheels and plasticky interior.
Yet, it ends up being more than the sum of its unremarkable parts. The ride is comfortable. The seats are comfortable. The planetary gearset-regulated transmission is far less annoying than other CVT-type transmissions.
"Are you getting the EPA fuel economy?" a man asked me while I was taking this photo.
"I'm getting close. Although it's hard to do better than low-to-mid 40s on the freeway, given the way these people drive," I said, gesturing to the 70-mph-plus pace of Interstate 5 behind us. We were both pulled over at one of the state's many scenic vistas.
Honestly, as with our old Smart (which was much slower), you manage the Toyota Prius C's lack of torque by keeping your foot on the throttle. I'd say about 25 percent of motorists forget to use the throttle when merging onto Southern California freeways. As a result, the Prius C is automatically quicker down entrance ramps than all of those cars.
I also think the Prius C has more steering feel than most people expect a Toyota hybrid to have. And the steering ratio borders on almost quick. As a result, detouring onto surface streets in San Diego and later Encinitas and then Huntington Beach to escape Friday traffic was not unpleasant. This car is kind of fun around turns when you're picking your way through city traffic.
My only complaint during the three-hour trip back from San Diego was a familiar one: The driving position isn't optimal. I end up sitting closer to the dash in this car due to the steering wheel's limited adjustment range. And with my legs crowded into the footwell, my feet began to cramp up.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 13,039 miles