2012 Toyota Prius C debuts at Detroit Auto Show image

The latest addition to Toyota’s rapidly expanding Prius family is the entry-level Prius C – a vehicle that will start at around $19,000.

The car’s mission is to take on the cheaper Honda Insight and CR-Z hybrids on price with a sub-$19,000 sticker while employing Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive to deliver far superior fuel economy.

The Prius C is a subcompact five-door hatchback that is smaller than the standard Prius hatchback — Toyota now calls it the Liftback — and the even longer Prius V crossover. The “c” stands for city, which plays up the four-door hatchback’s small size and record-setting fuel economy for a conventional hybrid in city driving.

The 4.0-metre long vehicle is powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine producing 73 horsepower, along with a 45-kilowatt (60-hp) electric motor-generator (total 134 horsepower). With a kerb weight of 1,132kg, the Prius C is able to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 10.7 seconds.

“It’s sized, priced, styled and packaged to appeal to young buyers on a budget who, until now, have probably found a hybrid experience out of reach,” said Jim Lentz, Toyota USA president and CEO.
“That’s why we view the Prius as a gateway vehicle and a key component of our Prius strategy.”

A 3.5-inch color TFT information display is standard, along with Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone capability, remote keyless entry and iPod connectivity through a USB port.

Optional equipment includes Display Audio with Toyota’s Entune infotainment and connectivity system, a navigation system, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The company said the new vehicle incorporates 17 years of Toyota expertise and technology in the development of mass-produced hybrid vehicles, and boasts a small, light and efficient hybrid system that according to the automaker will offer “the highest city mpg of any non-plug-in vehicle.”