Toyota announced this week that one of its latest additions to the Prius family, the 2012 Toyota Prius c, will start at $18,950 before destination charges when it goes on sale in March. The EPA has also confirmed Toyota’s predictions that the Prius c will get 53/46 mpg city/highway, which means that this hybrid hatchback has the highest city fuel economy ratings of any vehicle without a plug.

While the Prius c has outstanding fuel economy ratings, and its base price is low for a hybrid, it isn’t the least expensive model in its class. Starting at $18,350, the Honda Insight is currently the least expensive hybrid on the market, though its fuel economy ratings are a much lower 41/44 mpg. The Honda Civic Hybrid has higher ratings of 44/44 mpg, but it costs about $24,000.

When it goes on sale, the Prius c will be available in four grades, according to Toyota’s press release. The Prius c One will have a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine that makes 73 horsepower, and an electric motor that makes 60 horsepower, for a combined 99 horsepower. Nine airbags, automatic climate control, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry and Bluetooth are also standard on the base Prius c. Upgrading to higher trims equips the Prius c with features like iPod connectivity, push-button start and navigation.

Many automotive journalists have already had the opportunity to test drive the Prius c. Some test drivers agree that the 2012 Toyota Prius c isn’t fun to drive, but they don’t mind too much because as a hybrid, the Prius c isn’t supposed to be thrilling. But what many reviewers appreciate is that the 2012 Prius c makes owning a hybrid car attainable for a lot of shoppers.

“The 2012 Toyota Prius c obliterates the hybrid price penalty with a $19,000 starting price and a segment-leading 50 mpg combined,” says “The hybrid for the masses has arrived, and I honestly think Toyota won't be able to build enough of them to meet demand come March, when the car goes on sale.”

Shopping for a hybrid car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. You can also skip negotiating with a dealer by using our Best Price Program. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.