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The Real Reasons Why Toyota Discontinued The Prius C

2019 is the last model year for the Toyota Prius C. The question is what is the real reason behind the cancelation of the car? Here is what you need to know.

Toyota announced that 2019 would be the last year of the Prius C. A cute, smaller version of Prius that seemed to resonate with quite a few people. So, if Toyota is so "pro hybrid," why would they cancel one from the lineup?

There is always speculation when a car company does something rather drastic like this. For instance, Toyota canceled a complete vehicle series known as Scion. Here is what I think is going on and why Toyota pulled the plug on the C.

Suspicion One: It Did Not Fit The Mold They Wanted
I wholeheartedly believe that when Toyota puts a car on the market, the research results tell the story. Prius C, I know, fit a particular segment that was both affordable and practical for many small families of 4 or less.

With a base price of $21,530, this little economy box was $2,000 less expensive than its older sibling. With some very respectable numbers of 48 city mpg, and 43 highway miles per gallon, the car was quite attractive. Or was it?

Toyota Prius C Green 2018 Discontinued

For a mere $2,000 more, you could have a base Prius that was bigger and more comfortable. The 54 city mpg and 50 highway were also more attractive to Prius buyers who bought the car for the incredible fuel economy.

I think that Toyota had great intentions of reaching a particular crowd with Prius C, which they did. I believe that once people saw what they could get with a base Prius, the C became useless.

Suspicion Two: Corolla Hybrid Has More Potential
With such a big name like Corolla, it would make sense for Toyota to push the brand. Prius, while it does have a strong brand name now, has the name because of the base Prius.

2020 Corolla Hybrid

Corolla has been a staple in the Toyota line up since 1966. It is also larger and practical for small families than the Prius C. Starting at a mere $23,100, it offers higher mpg and more cargo space than the C. It also has more legroom for the passengers. Also, throw in the fact that Prius was already a hatchback, having another just flooded the segment.

Corolla, on the other hand, is a regular sedan. It has a regular trunk and ordinary, well, everything. It fits better because it gives Toyota a way to sell more of Corolla.

Suspicion Three, It Did Not Make Financial Sense
Both Corolla and Prius make sense. The volumes that sell keep the business going. With sales falling steadily since 2012, 8,399 units do not make sense. Falling from 40,000 a year to just over 8,000 is a hard pill to swallow.

Prius has been an excellent vehicle for Toyota. Toyota Hybrid Technology is also a huge part of that. The Toyota Hybrid System, or THS, is interwoven into several of the existing platforms that Toyota offers currently — giving the hybrid a better springboard from which to launch.

I will not miss the Prius C. I never felt as if I needed to ride in or own one, ever. I think that Toyota made an excellent business decision here, getting rid of it. I hope that C owners now find themselves behind the wheel of a Corolla, Rav4, or Camry hybrid.

Toyota has made an incredible machine that we can all enjoy, but even good things must come to an end. These reasons here are my own opinion. I believe that whatever the case was, it was for the better.

Thank you for reading. I hope you fill your Friday with fun and adventure. Be sure to check out my other article, 3 "must-haves" for your Toyota Prius this holiday season.

Watch the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid Prime video presentation and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news analysis.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting


Matthew Tackett (not verified)    November 30, 2019 - 6:42PM

My wife has a Prius C. Excellent car. Perfect size for her. The Camry is too big, as is the Rav 4. The Corolla is on the list of replacements for her 2013 C, but Toyota must make the hybrid available with a sunroof for her to buy it. I wish Toyota would have made a smaller, cheaper hybrid instead of moving only up market.
I will not consider any hybrid or electric until they make them with 3 pedals. I enjoy driving and the challenge of shifting.

Charles Lee Green (not verified)    November 30, 2019 - 11:04PM

I bought a used 2013 Prius C in 2016. In late 2019, I traded it in on a 2019 Kia Niro Touring S. I liked it at first but pick up and size became the issue (re the latter, the car seemed invisible to drivers). Also, it felt too much like a run can (great stereo system). The Toyota RAV4 is too expensive and I wanted a hybrid hatchback or SUV. Research and a great deal lead me to the Niro and I couldn't be happier.

Roger (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 3:15AM

Our government should be mandating we all by hybrids or all electric cars. It seems our specie is determined to go extinct. I love my Prius c. Toyota lost me as a customer after this car

Luisa (not verified)    July 20, 2021 - 1:50PM

In reply to by Roger (not verified)

I think we somewhat got our wish thanks to new eco friendly initiatives. I'm hoping they decide to import the new PriusC/Aqua. I even called Toyota customer service to submit a request.

Margaret Haburjak (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 9:59AM

My husband and I each own a Prius C. We LOVE our cars! It is perfect gas mileage and size for us as both of us travel over one hour to work six days a week. We are saddened to hear Toyota decided to discontinue the model. The Prius C's we own have made us fans of the Toyota brand. We look forward to seeing Toyota put out an electric car that has over two hundred miles per one charge at an afforable price like the Prius C.

BJLevine (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 10:57AM

It was a Yaris with a Prius drivetrain. But it was still a Yaris. The Yaris was a miserable excuse for a car. Toyota knew it. Anyone who drove one knew it.

Joseph E Troiano (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 12:22PM

The car couldnt cool its battery. The screen on the hybrid battery compartment couldnt handle a pet in the car 5% of the time or more. I leased a prius c from 2014 and another from 2015.

Randy S (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 1:23PM

I've owned a Prius C for four years. It has been a great car running up and down hills in northeast PA. I am over 6'-3" and have a good driving position. It is too bad that Toyota is discontinuing the C model.

Luisa T (not verified)    July 20, 2021 - 1:46PM

In reply to by Randy S (not verified)

I agree. The Prius C is the best car I've owned. We are all tall(6'3" - 5'9")in my family of 4 and we all fit. I've even put the seats in the back down and was able to IKEA boxes for Nordli King SIze bed. It's perfect for my fitting all my bulk groceries without having to put the back seat down. I love that in all the years owning my 2015 model I haven't spent over $20 yo fill the tank living in Miami, FL.

M.D. (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 2:17PM

This sentence REALLY makes me take the review seriously:
" I never felt as if I needed to ride in or own one, ever."

Daniel Dixon (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 2:51PM

I have been buying only toyotas for the last 20 to 25 years but after Toyota buddied up to the trump administration I will be shopping for new Hondas from now on. Sad day for Toyota! Makes me sick to my stomach. Just got a new prius and will trade it for an accord after Christmas

Mike Conlon (not verified)    October 3, 2023 - 9:50PM

In reply to by Daniel Dixon (not verified)

Toyota buddied up to Trump? To his administration? I was in Okinawa a couple of times before I retired from the Navy, each time when assigned to the Marines. They have many issues with us, and have both fans and foes over here. I've liked them a lot ever since reading about them as a kid, and nothing has changed that.

For them to agree to work with a US President in any case, with any President, to me needs perspective to judge. With Trump, I think it was his clear break from the Obama time, in terms of a China Policy. Obama was giving in to Chinese bullying other Asian countries. Trump turned that around, and started organizing other countries to help us all stop them with the bullying. The Japanese, Aussies and S. Koreans all felt the same way.

Now that the ChiComs are acting so aggressively with Taiwan, its good that we've had those countries working with our military now for the last five to seven years in exercising with each others Navies, specifically training to oppose the Chinese.

As to the PriusC - I have a used one. It was a bad buy as it has a failing battery after about two years of owning it. I really like it though! I'm glad to have bought it, even with the result of this failing battery. I try to look at the bright side, and its like a girlfriend that didn't work out, but you had many good times with, and are glad to have known. Happily, I bought a good used conventional Corolla LE, 2020. Its one made in Japan, which I'm very glad to have seen! So that's waiting in the wings as I look for a dealership that wants to buy this PriusC as possibly a "hanger queen."

Sorry to read that you are now anti-Toyota due to some issue with Trump. Glad to see you are happy to be having a Honda now, though. Truly, good luck to you with it, they're also supposed to be a good company.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 5:30PM

I always liked the little Prius C. To me it was better looking than the bigger Prius models of that generation. Unfortunately, I think that it suffered from the same problem that the Smart car faced. It’s biggest advantage was it’s small size, but it wasn’t that much cheaper, and it didn’t get that much better gas mileage than comparably priced cars that offered more room. And once you figure in the subsidies of plug in hybrids and BEVs, you could get a much nicer car that didn’t use any gas. In Europe, with it’s narrow roads, and in big cities, it is a real advantage to have a tiny car, but outside of that it’s a harder sell. And frankly with so many giant Ram trucks, Escalades, and F150s, you could literally get crushed in a tiny car like the Prius C.

Matthew (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 7:11PM

I have a 2015 Prius C. I love it and have not had a single problem with it. I want to go all electric, however, and am thinking of getting a Tesla Model 3 next year.

Karen (not verified)    December 1, 2019 - 7:14PM

I own a Prius C and love it! We weren't fans of the cockpit design in the regular sized Prius, so we opted for the compact. The dealership constantly tries to get us to sell it due to people wanting this size, and we've gotten calls/offers from other dealerships too. I love the size, leg room, and gas mileage too :)

Jim Ingram (not verified)    December 2, 2019 - 10:31AM

I will be driving my 2016 Prius C until the wheels fall off. (prob put them back on and keep going)

Dave Watson (not verified)    August 20, 2020 - 12:32PM

I own a 2012 Prius C that I got new in 2013 (trim level 4) and it was a top-of-the-line for under 23k.

The things I preferred over the prius liftback were no "joystick," and the rear view isn't split between the twp pieces of glass (with the spoiler.)

The Corolla hybrid isn't comparable since it's a sedan and now a hatch.

Give me top-of-the-line Corolla Hybrid hatch for 23k and I'm sold.

Nella Gambini (not verified)    October 30, 2020 - 3:58PM

I bought my C new in 2013. I have loaded it like santa's sleigh, and fit 4 grown adults ranging from me, the shortest at 6', to 6'8. You can park this car nearly anywhere that another car won't fit, and it's cute as a bug in the now extinct Habanero Orange. I have put 130,000 miles on my baby, and I'm sad to hear an available replacement in the future has already been made. I hope Toyota changes their mind. There's really nothing comparable.

Virginia Vida (not verified)    March 11, 2021 - 1:21PM

I love my 2014 Prius C. I wanted a small 4-door hybrid that would fit into small parking spaces, as street parking has become a problem in many neighborhoods including mine. I always get at least 50 mpg on the freeway, so I don’t agree with the 43 mpg estimate. My Toyota dealer’s sales people keep calling me to offer more than my car is worth for a trade in, as my Prius C is much in demand! Too bad it was discontinued!

carmen (not verified)    June 15, 2021 - 4:44AM

I'm really sad to hear this. I love my little 2016 Prius c and recommend it to friends who have also gotten this car. It is the perfect size for me, and it also fits a lot of stuff when you bend the seats down--I call it my mini-SUV. I evacuated with my most prized possessions several times during California fires. I got a great price on it new (much lower than the price listed here), and it usually gets over 50mpg on the highway when I'm travelling more than a few miles. The other posters are right that it is easy to park. I've not had any problems with it at all now in nearly 5 years. I am planning to drive it until it completely breaks down. I'm really sorry to hear that Toyota is prioritizing larger cars--not everyone needs an SUV or a sedan.

Tomas (not verified)    June 24, 2021 - 7:10AM

I owned two of them over time. They were fun to drive, easy to maneuver in traffic and inexpensive to own, insure and operate. They weren't fancy but it was a blast driving them and watching that MPG meter go up, up, up.

I'm sad to see them go. There will always be a fond spot in my heart for the Prius C.

I understand the points this writer made about the Corolla and the Hybrid version has very decent gas mileage, but it's still a Corolla (ho hum).

ko (not verified)    July 12, 2021 - 6:27PM

The Prius C is the BEST little city car ever. A joy to park in all of those tight spots that my old Corolla could never DREAM of squeezing into. The actual mileage I get is MUCH better than what you've posted here, coming in at 50-60+ regularly. I live in the exact setting this car was MADE for: big city, stop-and-go rush-hour slow traffic, day in, day out. My dealership is consistently emailing, calling, and sending me physical letters practically BEGGING to buy this car back from me because of demand. They'll never get it back. I'll drive it until it dies. It's perfect for me.

MeeLee (not verified)    July 21, 2021 - 10:11PM

The prius C is still continued in Europe.
It actually now comes with a 1.5l 3cyl, and a larger battery, with something like 16hp more, and higher range.
They can make it cheaper, and already did.
And thus nullifies the idea that the prius C doesn't have a place in usa.
The real reason according to me?
The new prius C will eat profits from the regular prius. Because reportedly it comes in at 84 MPG (imp = 66 MPG US), something the prius can't beat.

Christopher Carson (not verified)    October 11, 2021 - 11:58AM

I love my 2013 Prius C. It has 152,000 miles on it and besides oil changes and tires all I have had to do is replace the 12v battery and front brakes once. It was one of the most affordable cars I could find in 2013. Sad to see that Toyota is reducing opportunities for those of us with a limited income.

DIANE T GORDON (not verified)    October 19, 2021 - 2:35PM

My first prius was a 2002 which I loved. I then bought a 2015 C and passed the 2002 to my daughter. I sold my 2015 C to my domestic partner and bought a 2019 C so we are a two C household. I love this car and was disappointed to think I couldn't uy another C in 10 years. The 2002 finally gave out and it wasn't worth fixing so we found a twin to my 2015 for my daughter. They too love it. I wrote to Toyota saying I wouldn't buy another Toyota because of their pro Trump donations. My understanding is that they have changed their position. I don't expect to need a new car for quite some time but I will definitely check out what they are doing before I buy another Toyota no matter how much I love Toyota. I have owned a corolla and two cressidas ( a favorite car) and a matrix (my daughters favorite car). So here we are. So many of us do indeed love the Prius C we have owned.

Anna (not verified)    March 11, 2022 - 10:23PM

I have a 2012 Prius C and it's the first car I've owned that I actually love. It's so cute! Bright blue. So easy to parallel park. 50 MPG regularly.

Downside is my husband is 6'2" so he has to be the driver now with one car seat installed, and if we have 2 kids we just can't drive the C because a car seat won't fit behind. Sad because I really don't want a large vehicle but we need to fit car seats.