2013 Toyota Prius c Preview

Jeff Youngs | Feb 28, 2013
  • Subcompact 4-door hatchback
  • Second model year
  • Prius c Four model gets SofTex-wrapped steering wheel
  • Prius c Two and Three models add black SofTex-wrapped dash panel
  • Highest city fuel efficiency on market


The Prius c is the smallest model in the expanding Prius lineup, which now includes four models. It is smaller and less powerful than its siblings and offers the highest city fuel economy of the group, but the same overall fuel economy as the more common Prius liftback.

The Toyota Prius c competes with such subcompact as the Chevrolet Sonic, Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris, as well as such hybrids as the Honda Insight, Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, and the larger Prius liftback.

Exterior Features

The Prius c is 19 inches shorter and weighs 500 lbs. less than the Prius liftback. Its 0.28 coefficient of drag is slightly higher than the Prius liftback's, due to the aerodynamic inefficiencies of the Prius c's shorter length, which is at least part of the reason why the Prius c isn't as efficient on the highway as the Prius liftback. The base Prius c comes standard with an intermittent rear wiper/washer, a rear spoiler, and P175/65R15 tires on steel wheels with wheel covers. Only the top model comes standard with alloy wheels.

Interior Features

The Prius c is fitted with cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, interior air filter, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio  controls, folding rear seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD stereo, auxiliary input jack, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, and a trip computer. The Prius c seats up to 5 passengers, with 17.1 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the rear seat. That seat folds down, either 60/40 or as a whole, to expand that space.

Optional Features

The Two model adds cruise control to the base One model, as well as height-adjustable driver's seat, center console, split folding rear seat, variable-intermittent wipers, cargo cover, and a theft-deterrent system. The Three gets a navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic information, Toyota's Entune infotainment system, satellite radio, high-definition radio, and keyless access and starting. The Four adds SofTex vinyl upholstery and heated front seats. Other options consist of a sunroof and P195/50R16 tires.

Under the Hood

The front-wheel-drive 2013 Toyota Prius c is powered by a downsized version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which consists of a 73-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine aided by a two electric motors, a 42.4 kW (56 horsepower) motor that acts as a generator and a 45 kW (60 horsepower) motor that supplies motive power. The Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery puts out a peak 25.9 horsepower for a total output of 99 horsepower.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Toyota Prius c are 53/46/50 mpg (city/highway/combined).


Standard safety features on the 2013 Toyota Prius c include dual front air bags, front-seat side air bags, curtain side air bags, driver knee air bag, antilock brakes, brake assist, antiskid system, tire-pressure monitor, traction control, and electronic stability control.

The Toyota Prius c has not been tested in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, it received a Good rating--the Institute's highest--in the front overlap, side-impact, roof strength, and rear-seat crash protection tests. Although these scores qualify the Prius c as a Top Safety Pick, it has not been subjected to the new small overlap front test and cannot, therefore, be named a Top Safety Pick Plus.


The Prius c's parallel hybrid system can power the vehicle on electricity alone up to 42 mph. This happens more often when the "EV" button is pushed, but aggressive throttle starts the engine even in EV mode. The motors can also aid the engine, and the engine shuts off at stops to save fuel. The Prius c also comes with an ECO mode that dulls the throttle response and runs the air conditioning more efficiently.

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