I love my C! It is nimble, well-made, and fun to drive. Plus, unlike so many other hybrids, the mileage is no hype. I average 50 mpg and I've owned my car for about 4 months now. You go so long between fill ups that you almost forget about getting gas. Regarding the comments about acceleration, it's no Ferrari, but I've found it to be fine on on ramps and here in Philly that's no joke. Also, many of the comparable hybrids sacrificed reliability. I don't think I should have to choose between great mileage and being stuck by the side of the road.
I picked the C, and am very happy with the choice.
Most people see the C as a downgraded Prius. I see it as the ultimate Econo-box. Even in the basic trim (One) this car has built in bluetooth, turn signal indicators on the side mirrors, mp3/usb, a digital speedometer, and that 4" color screen chock full of information. Best part? 49-50mpg with A/C blasting in the summer and the heater blasting in the winter while driving it like a regular car (from stop & go to FWY speeds). Feels about the same as my previous car, a manual transmission Yaris Hatchback with a way more modern / techy feel and design. Price-wise, the cheapest C is comparable to the highest trims of the Yaris or Fit. Looking @ newspapers, I've seen the One advertised for ~$17k.
Thanks to some great deals, I managed to get a new 2013 Prius C Two for $17k, which was comparable to the non-hybrids I was looking for and came with many more features. The Two has all features I could ask for. There is obviously some initial adjustment if you've never driven a hybrid, but the fuel economy is as promised. There were complaints about lack of power but I drove a V6 before and had no problem adjusting. The car is a lot roomier than it appears, particularly the backseat. Headroom is great, and the trunk space is good as well. Of all the cheaper hybrids, this had the best features and room, and with a good deal it can cost you less than many non-hybrids.
One 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I traded in my dying 2006 Toyota Matrix XRS with 170k on the odometer. I was getting around 30mpg and it was a pretty speedy car with lots of room. I had limited time to look around and ended up finding a Black 2013 Prius C One with black tinted glass and only 30,000 miles. It was also a Toyota Certified Car so it came with reliability, an extended warranty, and peace of mind.
It wasn't love at first sight though - I was looking at it from a practical point of view; I liked the idea of saving money on maintenance and the awesome 20+mpg jump in MPG more. Also, the price I paid was in my range. It does its job as a commuter car and it has actually saved me a lot even though I now have payments. I have even taught myself a few hybrid tricks to get better fuel mileage (no warming up the car, no fast acceleration, moving the gas pedal so it uses electric only mode more) and I now am getting between 50-60mpg with mixed highway/road driving. I love the fact that it tells me how much money in gas I have spent to drive to a place.
While the technology on the engine/hybrid system is awesomely advanced, the rest of the car feels like a cheap economy car. That's exactly what it is, though, so I didn't really expect too much in terms of refinement. You basically pay for the hybrid system in what is a car like a Yaris. It has automatic windows, a bluetooth CD player, automatic AC, Steering wheel controls, and a CVT for convenience. It does not have Cruise Control, there are no variable intermittent wipers, no trunk light, and only has a 2 speaker CD player. It's odd to me to have automatic AC but no trunk light??? I feel like these are things that became a staple in economy cars in the 2000's. The saving grace of the CD player is it's bluetooth capability which works better than higher end Volkswagens. It has clear sound, nobody I'm talking with can tell I am using the internal bluetooth microphone for calls, and it is easy to sync devices.
When I got the car I made two immediate upgrades - I changed all the lights on the interior and exterior to LED, put in HID headlights, and changed out the hubcaps to something a little better. The HID upgrade was great and the LED's really made the car stand out at night. The handling of the car is great! If I were to put sporty tires on the car I'm sure it would be great at an Autocross. The turning radius is also great and has allowed me to get in and out of some tight spaces without issue.
In the end, it serves its purpose and I'm hoping it will take me into the next decade without issue.
Two 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I was a Prius sedan owner for 10+ years and was waiting for an AWD version (still waiting). A few nonessential systems started to fail that would have been $1500+ to replace, and there was this adorable little C on the lot with 19,000 miles on it. The interior feels a little plasticky compared to the full-size, but it has a better sound system and a fun, sporty ride. I'd compare it to that of a Mini Cooper: low-riding, road-hugging, but getting an average of 49mpg with a fair amount of highway driving. The price was great and I like the car more every day.