Prius C at NAIAS 2012, Toyota photo

Toyota Prius C gets launch date, details

The Toyota Prius C hit the Detroit auto show this year with a bang. The tiny car is entering the market as the most fuel-efficient car in Toyota's Prius line. The company has announced release dates for North America as well as details on the C's specifications.

Toyota first launched its hybrid car line in 1997 and since then has managed to brand Prius as being synonymous with "hybrid" in most people's minds. After three million cars sold, it's obvious that the market for hybrids is there, so Japan's largest automaker is continuing its development. Last week in Detroit, the company showcased the new Prius C, the smallest and most fuel efficient of the Prius line's offerings to date. It's expected to have a price tag under $20,000, making it the cheapest in Toyota's hybrid offerings as well.

The C was shown at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and immediately got the attention of electric vehicle enthusiasts and Prius fans around the country. One thing was missing, though: a release date. Toyota was showcasing the Prius C as a 2012 model, but the car was not available in showrooms. That date has now been announced.

Toyota Prius C will come to North American showrooms in March and will indeed have a price tag of less than $19,000 for the base model. The little C gets 53mpg in the city and 46mpg on the highway (combined 50mpg) by EPA numbers. The C is 19.1 inches shorter than the standard Prius and weighs 542 pounds less, which is where most of that fuel savings comes from.

More changes include a smaller engine (1.5L instead of 1.8) and a smaller electric motor (54kW rather than 80kW), which are reasonable thanks to the car's lighter weight. These put out a total of 99 horsepower at 82lb-ft of torque. This won't give the Prius C any record-setting 0-60 speeds, but it does mean high economy and enough power to do what most people do in a compact this size everyday: drive around town.

Like the rest of the current-generation Prius family, the C has three drive modes: Normal, Eco, and EV. Normal driving is just that - driving around mostly using engine power and getting the lowest economy. For highway driving, this is the norm. In Eco mode, the car balances economy and performance by utilizing the electric motor as a booster for early acceleration from a stop and puts the engine in stop-start mode so it doesn't idle. In EV mode, the car drives fully on electric power (up to about a mile at sub-25mph speeds) until the batteries get low enough that it needs to recharge, thus causing the engine to start up.

The Prius C comes standard with several color options (many are bright and flashy like "Habanero" - above photo is "Summer Rain Metallic"), a basic black interior, 15-inch wheels, and a lot of sound system connectivity options. An auxiliary audio jack, USB port, built-in iPod connectivity, and hands-free phone connections are also standard. A large-screen multi-information display is also standard in all Prius models as are all of the Toyota safety features usually included in today's cars (airbags, anti-lock, etc).

Options for the Toyota Prius C mostly center around the audio system, which is where most of its intended younger audience pays for upgrades. The car is expected to sell well in its segment, but we'll know for sure how well starting in March.

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Comments

I was going to get a Kia Rio until this prospect came along. Although I wanted the nav option, I could be convinced otherwise (not sure if or what price in the C). I have always proclaimed "simple is better". With 20+ mpg difference in town, I could save $1500 a year (@ 12k miles/year). I'm thinking the cost effectiveness would come in a year or two. The Kia guarantee is not looking like a clincher with these $ advantages. Also the resale value would be way better for the C. Please comment on my deductions from your experience.
If the Rio averaged 30 mpg and the Prius-C averaged 53 mpg with a gas cost $4.00/gallon then the most you could save would be about $700/year, driving 12,000/yr. Where did you get $1500?
I stand corrected! Thanks, I was overenthusiastic.
If the Rio averaged 30 mpg and the Prius-C averaged 53 mpg with a gas cost $4.00/gallon then the most you could save would be about $700/year, driving 12,000/yr. Where did you get $1500?
I, too, was going to replace my 2002 Rio Cinco with another, 2012 Rio5 because my 100,000 warranty is ending in a couple of months, but when I saw the mileage of the Prius C, I was going to abandon the Rio for the Prius. I only drive 4,000 miles a year now that I'm retired. I haven't done the math yet, but it looks like I might just break even in 2022 when it's time for another new car, if I buy the Rio. Thanks for the info.
I drive 35,000 miles per year and could save as much as $1,000 per year over something like a Chevy Sonic. If I own the car 10 years, I'd save even more annually as gas prices climb. Alas, Toyota might delay the US launch as they've already presold their first 8 months of planned production to eager buyers in Japan ...
I just returned fro ma Toyota event in Florida featuring the Prius c and they will not be delaying release.
I understand the US will be merged into the supply line, but a budgeted allotment (like one at a time per dealer LOL). Be prepared for sticker shock - a premium above MSRP.
i've got great news. i live in la crescenta, ca. and have just purchased the first prius c from bob smith toyota dealership in la crescenta. this dealership is receiving four of these beauties within the next few days.. i've been waiting a very long time for this vehicle. i bought it sight unseen because one of the cars arriving is the very car i have been waiting for. a base 4 (fully loaded) in black sand pearl. it should arrive any day now. today is 2-28-12. out the door, i am paying $28,800. i've got better news. this car will not only be good for young adults and small families. it'll also be great for people like me. i'm a senior citizen, age 66. now's the time, people. they're coming in.
Just got a brand new Prius C off the truck in Wichita Falls, TX at Sullivan Toyota. I pick it up Friday. Steve Cox and Kevin Polite were a pleasure to work with. Very fair deal...
march 6, 2012 just to let you know, i picked up my 2012 prius c yesterday from bob smith toyota in la crescenta, ca. i bought mine fully loaded, a prius c four. it is black sandy pearl and i am loving it so far. i still need to learn all of its functions, but i don't see that as a big problem. s.sanchez p.s. this car is not only for young people. i am a senior citizen an am enjoying whissing by everyone else.
S. Sanchez, hope you enjoy it. Mine is silver and I got the c three.
I need to know if this car will climb that first big hill coming back from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. I don't want another car that struggles like crazy. Also, if you get a C with extras does it price out to where I'd be better off getting a regular sized Prius?
haven't had time to climb that particular hill, but it climbs very well and steady. it will surprise you. gee, you'll only get 46 mph instead of 53. AWSOME! enjoy, if you get one of these beauties.
depends which package you get. a top of the line, c 4 will run about 28,500 without lo jack. you'll make up the difference in a couple of years. after that time, it's all gravy. enjoy
That particular hill (truckers call it the "Vegas overheater") will make almost any small engine struggle. Don't expect the c to fly up it like a Camaro with its 350hp, but it won't struggle like a '74 air cooled VW Bug either. I'd expect that if it's not weighed down, the Prius c would do just fine on that hill. I've pulled that hill multiple times in various vehicles and all but the largest of engines will have to work on that grade. Parley's Canyon in Utah (Salt Lake City to Park City, I-80), Snowqualmie (Seattle, I-90), and the Grapevine (LA to Bakersfield, I-5) are all hills most cars will struggle with. Besides, no matter what car you're in, you can always look at the poor truckers in the right lane as you pass them by. :)
thanks, may you enjoy yours also. it's a great car.
I just bought a silver Prius C last night from Magnussens Auburn Toyota in Auburn, CA. It had the moon roof, carpeted floor mats and alloy wheels for $22,963.00, (not including registration & taxes). Mike Stewart did a great job making this one of the easiest and best car purchases ever for me. My wife drives 107.5 miles per day and she just called me to report 54 MPG!!!! WOOO HOOO!!!!!!
I just bought a silver Prius C last night from Magnussens Auburn Toyota in Auburn, CA. It had the moon roof, carpeted floor mats and alloy wheels for $22,963.00, (not including registration & taxes). Mike Stewart did a great job making this one of the easiest and best car purchases ever for me. My wife drives 107.5 miles per day and she just called me to report 54 MPG!!!! WOOO HOOO!!!!!!