Used 2016 Toyota Prius c Hatchback Review

Are you interested in a small, fuel-efficient hybrid? In that case, you should definitely check out the 2016 Toyota Prius C. We think it's well suited as a city car, and you'll get about 50 mpg for a very reasonable price. Read on to learn more about the Toyota Prius C.




what's new

After a front and rear restyling in the previous model year, the 2016 Prius C is largely a carryover. It does get Toyota's Safety Sense (C) package of driver assistance technologies and a limited-edition Persona Series Special Edition that adds some contrasting color accents to the exterior paint.

vehicle overview

Comfort and performance take a backseat to affordability and high fuel economy in most entry-level small cars. But for many people who are shopping this segment, that's just fine. For those drivers, the 2016 Toyota Prius C is a fine choice. This is a car that embraces its station in life as a fuel-sipping, easy-to-park and practical little hatchback, a conclusion we reached after spending a year testing our long-term Prius C.

The 2016 Toyota Prius C looks rather sporty here, but in truth, it's all about efficiency.

The Prius C is the smallest (19 inches shorter than a standard Prius) and lowest-priced member of the Prius family. Indeed, it's one of the least expensive ways to get into a hybrid. And it's no watered-down hybrid either, at least when it comes to fuel economy. The EPA estimates that the Prius C delivers an excellent 50 miles per gallon in combined driving. In addition to great fuel efficiency, the C's diminutive size and lighter weight make it more agile and a snap to park. The downside, though, is that the C's entry-level status is pretty evident. The ride quality can be harsh at times, and the interior is full of uninviting hard plastics. Furthermore, the Prius C is loud and slow compared to its competition.

But given this car's chief mission, we don't consider those demerits to be deal breakers. With that 50 mpg rating and Toyota's rock-solid reputation for reliability and low running costs, there's really no other hybrid out there that compares. Honda discontinued its Insight hybrid and Civic Hybrid this year, and that leaves just the two-seat Honda CR-Z to consider. But it can't match the Prius C's fuel economy or practicality. To get the best fuel economy on a budget, the Prius C is your car.

trim levels & features

The 2016 Toyota Prius C is a four-door, subcompact hatchback offered in four trim levels named One through Four, plus the limited-production (1,500 vehicles) Persona Series, which builds off the C Two.

The Prius C One comes with 15-inch steel wheels, LED headlights, taillights and brake lights, automatic climate control, full power accessories, a folding rear seat, a multifunction display, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, voice commands and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB/iPod interface.

Every 2016 Prius C comes standard with a touchscreen interface.

The Prius C Two adds cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a center console storage bin and armrest, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a cargo cover and a six-speaker sound system.

Upgrading to the Prius C Three gets you keyless ignition and entry, a navigation system, smartphone app integration, satellite radio and voice controls.

The range-topping Four adds alloy wheels, heated mirrors, foglights, a sunroof, simulated leather upholstery, a rearview camera and heated front seats.

Options are few. On the Three you can get 15-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof and the Toyota Safety Sense (C) package (see Safety section below). The Safety Sense (C) package and 16-inch alloy wheels are optional on the Four.

The Persona Series adds to the C Two trim with model-specific 15-inch black alloy wheels, special badging and a black exterior (the only choice) with either Electric Lime or Cherry Pearl accents on the side mirrors, lower grille and beneath the headlights and side windows.

performance & mpg

The 2016 Toyota Prius C is powered by a hybrid powertrain that consists of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor that's fed by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Combined power output comes to 99 horsepower, and it is sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

In Edmunds performance testing, a Prius C needed 11.3 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is slow for a hybrid or any vehicle for that matter.

As with any Prius, however, the most important numbers relate to fuel economy, and the Prius C does not disappoint. EPA-estimated mileage stands at 50 mpg combined (53 city/46 highway), making it one of the most economical non-plug-in hybrids on the market.

safety

Standard safety features on all 2016 Toyota Prius C models include stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, hill start assist, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and front-seat cushion airbags that help prevent occupants from sliding under the seatbelts in a collision.

The basic Toyota Safety Sense C package is available on the C Three and C Four trims and adds lane departure alert, automatic high beams and a frontal pre-collision system that provides audible and visual alerts if it senses the car is closing too fast on a vehicle or other object. The system also adds extra braking force to help a driver slow down or applies emergency braking to lessen the impact of a crash if the driver doesn't take action.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Prius C came to a stop from 60 mph in a better-than-average 118 feet.

In government crash testing, the 2015 Prius C received four stars out of five for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal-impact protection and four stars for side-impact protection. The government also posted a "safety concern" about rear passenger protection, although that concern is not reflected in the ratings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded the 2016 Prius C its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, the Prius C got the second-best score of "Acceptable." Its seat and head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

driving

The 2016 Toyota Prius C feels a bit sprightlier than other Prius models when driving city routes, thanks to its smaller footprint and lower overall weight. It's also quite easy to park in small spaces (although you may want to skip the optional 16-inch wheels, as they significantly increase the car's turning circle). However, agility and road feel through the steering wheel are notably missing when the Prius C is compared with some conventional small hatchbacks.

You'll save plenty of gas driving a 2016 Prius C.

Severe road imperfections cause uncharacteristic harshness and, combined with noticeable wind noise at higher freeway speeds, give the Prius C a budget-car feel. Acceleration is comparatively underwhelming as well, but as long as you keep your expectations in check, the C's power will likely seem adequate for around-town driving and getting up to highway speeds.

interior

Inside, the Prius C features a mix of the familiar with the unconventional. Gauges are mounted up high and in the center of the dash, which can be a bit odd at first, but actually makes for easier reading. Sadly, the cabin's plastics are rather mediocre in quality, especially compared with those in other subcompacts like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. The addition of piano black and chrome accents on upper trims does lessen the effect somewhat. The cloth seat upholstery is nothing special either, but we actually prefer it over the SofTex vinyl that is used in the top trim level, the C Four.

The Prius C dashboard has an unconventional layout, but it's functional.

The C's top-of-the-line audio system features a suite of smartphone-connected services that include the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio and real-time sports and stock information. Getting started with the smartphone integration system can be a hassle, though, since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account, plus you always need an active data connection to use it.

In terms of comfort, the Prius C presents a mixed bag, particularly for taller passengers. The driving position is slightly compromised by the lack of enough extension for the steering wheel's telescoping function, and the tall, upright dash can be hard for shorter folks to peer over. The front passenger may also take issue with the glovebox, which intrudes into the footwell. Backseat occupants will likely fare better, as there's ample head- and legroom for adults, and the completely flat floor allows for even more flexibility.

The base Prius C One's rear seat folds down as one piece, but C Two and above trims feature a 60/40-split seat for greater passenger/cargo versatility. With all the seats in use, cargo capacity stands at 17.1 cubic feet, about what you'd expect from a hatchback in this class.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.