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Toyota Prius c hybrid is surprisingly fun to drive

Forget the specification sheet and try the Prius c.


When the Prius c test vehicle arrived in my driveway, my first thought was, “A great week to drive my convertible.” As it turns out, I didn’t grab the keys to the drop-top nearly as often as I thought I might. After giving the Prius c a try, it became clear that this little hybrid has more smiles per mile than almost any economy car in the market.

Off the line, the Prius c has that special something. Instant response and a throttle that is linear. I’m always shocked by how many turbocharged, dual-clutch big-bucks cars can’t deliver this. The Prius c goes when you tell it to and in the economy car world that is not to be taken for granted. Floor the Prius c and the first telephone pole goes by quickly. From that point on it is typical hybrid, slow to accelerate. However, this vehicle is intended as a city car. Toyota wisely made its 0-10 and 0-20 MPH capability match conventionally powered cars in its price class.

Around town, the ride of the Prius c also brings a smile. Pot-holes and roads ravaged by winter did bounce it around, but the little Prius swallowed up all but the most extreme ones without a fuss. A few whoppers I did hit did not damage the 15-inch diameter “normal” sidewall tires. At low speeds, the Prius c turns in quickly and confidently. It isn’t a sports car, but it feels sporty. Not so much darty as nimble. The brakes also grab hard with not much pedal giving the sense of stopping confidently around town. The hybrid regenerative braking didn’t spoil the fun, but those last couple of feet, when you park the Prius c, do come a little quicker than you expect until you adjust to the car.

I drove the car on the highway quite a bit. Although my tester was a new 2014 model press fleet car with 14K miles that had seen two winters, it tracked straight and true. In a heavy downpour, the well-worn tires showed no signs of hydroplaning and the Prius handled very well in the wet. This broken-in tester also had no rattles and no noises. The sense is that the car is solidly built.

The Prius is mainly about fuel efficiency and low emissions. So, this story would not be complete without saying my combined driving over a week on suburban roads and highways was 51.5 MPG. There are more than enough reviews on the Prius c written since its 2013 launch that go into every fine detail of its construction, so I won’t re-write history. My message is that if you have not actually driven one, do so. You will be pleasantly surprised if you cross-shop it with other cars its size and price.

*Note: Image shows a 2015 model. For details on the changes for 2015, please see our prior story.