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2019 Toyota Prius c Review

The 2019 Toyota Prius c has great fuel efficiency, a large amount of standard tech features, and a superb predicted reliability rating. However, its low-quality cabin and languid acceleration sink it to the bottom half of our hybrid and electric car rankings. 

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent fuel efficiency
  • Generous list of standard safety tech
  • Above-average cargo space
  • Outstanding predicted reliability rating
  • Subpar interior quality
  • Underpowered engine
  • Noisy at highway speeds




Critics' Rating: 6.7
Performance: 6.6
Interior: 6.3
Safety: 8.4
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Toyota Prius c a Good Car?

The 2019 Toyota Prius c is an adequate car. This hybrid’s biggest selling points are its outstanding gas mileage, excellent predicted reliability rating, and large cargo area. However, several rivals feature nicer cabins, quicker acceleration, and a quieter ride at highway speeds. It's not a bad car, but you can find better hybrid and electric cars out there.

Should I Buy the Toyota Prius c?

You should consider the Prius c if you're looking for a subcompact car, and your main concern is fuel efficiency. Its starting price is reasonable among hybrids, but when considering rival subcompact cars, many competitors are better overall and often have lower prices, while still delivering respectable fuel economy. The Honda Fit has a nicer interior and more enjoyable ride. Still, if you are determined to buy a hybrid, you should take a look at the larger Toyota Prius. It costs more than the smaller Prius c, but it has even better fuel efficiency, a roomier cabin, and more cargo space.

Compare the Prius c, Fit, and Prius »

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Prius c?

The 2019 Prius c is part of a generation that debuted for the 2012 model year. There are a few notable changes throughout the years. The 2015 Prius c received updated interior and exterior styling and a standard touch-screen infotainment system. The 2016 Prius c gained available Toyota Safety Sense C, which features a pre-collision warning system with lane departure alert and automatic high beams. For 2017, that package became standard. Toyota refreshed the Prius c's exterior styling for the 2018 model year.

For 2019, Toyota condensed the Prius c’s trim levels to just two trims, renaming them L and LE. With this change, some of the more upscale amenities, such as leatherette upholstery and heated front seats, are unavailable. If you're interested in these features, you'll want to go back a model year. Other than that, there isn't much difference between this model year and the 2018 Prius c.

If you're interested in a used model, the 2017 Prius c is a solid choice. It has similar standard features as the 2019 Prius c, and it costs less. You could also check out the 2018 Prius c if you're interested in a used model. If you decide a used car is right for you, visit our Used Car Deals page for more information on savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Prius c »

We Did the Research for You: 59 Reviews Analyzed

To give you a complete overview of the 2019 Prius – and make your car-shopping experience easier – we analyzed 59 Toyota Prius c reviews alongside fuel economy estimates, performance specs, and more.

This review uses applicable research and data from all model years of the current Prius c generation, which runs from 2012 to 2019.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our crew has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we do not accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an external company manages the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Toyota Prius c Cost?

The starting price for the 2019 Toyota Prius c is around $21,530, which is below average for a hybrid but on the high end for a subcompact car. Stepping up from the base L trim to the top-of-the-line LE trim will cost you $1,425.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

Toyota Prius c Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Toyota Prius c or Toyota Prius?

The Toyota Prius is essentially a larger version of the Prius c, with more room for passengers and cargo. The Prius has a smoother ride, quicker acceleration, and better fuel economy than the Prius c. However, the Prius c is easier to maneuver in tight spaces and costs less to buy. Although the larger Prius costs more up front, it's worth the investment.

Which Is Better: Toyota Prius c or Honda Fit?

The Honda Fit sits near the top of our subcompact cars rankings. It costs several thousand dollars less than the Prius c, yet it has more overall passenger and cargo space and a richer interior with available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Its lower price also means that you can opt for one of its higher trim levels with comparable standard features to the Prius c, and you’ll still spend less money. The Fit's precise steering and nimble handling also make it more fun to drive than the Toyota, and its gas mileage is excellent for a nonhybrid. The only real reason to choose the Prius c over the Fit is its superior fuel efficiency. Overall, the Honda Fit is a better value for the money.

Compare the Prius c, Prius, and Fit »

Prius c Interior

How Many People Does the Prius c Seat?

The Prius c can seat up to five people. Power-adjustable seats are not an option, but the front seats still provide good overall support and comfort. However, taller folks may feel cramped in the rear seats. All models come with cloth upholstery.

Prius c and Car Seats

There are two sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Prius c the second-highest rating of Acceptable for LATCH ease of use, with hard-to-reach lower anchors bringing the score down. 

Prius c Interior Quality

The Prius c's cabin is sturdy, but the heavy use of hard plastics and excessive road and engine noise make it seem less refined.

Prius c Cargo Space

This hatch has 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space, which is one of the highest estimates among subcompact cars. This amount of space rivals what you’ll find in some compact cars. It's also more room than you get in many other hybrid and electric cars.

Prius c Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Prius c's standard infotainment system is easy to use and features a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, a USB port, voice recognition, and Siri Eyes Free. Although the Prius c has a touch screen, there are also buttons you can use for audio and climate adjustments. You can add the Entune app suite, navigation, satellite radio, and HD Radio to the top trim level.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Prius c Performance

Prius c Engine: Not Much Power

The Prius c has an electric motor and four-cylinder engine that make a combined 99 horsepower, which is enough for city driving but not enough for confident highway passing. The Prius c’s powertrain exhibits quite a bit of noise as it struggles to get up to speed on the highway. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive are also standard.

Prius c Gas Mileage: Hard to Beat

The Prius c delivers 48 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. These are some of the best estimates in the class, though a few hybrids still get better ratings. By comparison, the nonhybrid Honda Fit – which has good gas mileage for a nonhybrid subcompact car – gets 33 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The larger Toyota Prius has even better fuel economy estimates at 54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway.

Prius c Ride and Handling: City Cruiser  

Thanks to the Prius c's small size, it’s easy to whip around corners and squeeze through tight parking lots. Although the ride quality is decent, some might find to be too firm. Many others in the class offer a smoother ride, especially over bumpier roads. This Toyota’s regenerative brakes help conserve fuel by recharging the battery with energy that would go to waste in a nonhybrid vehicle. The tradeoff is that these brakes can feel different than traditional brakes and may take some time to get used to.

For more information, check out our What Is Regenerative Braking? article.

Read more about performance »

Prius c Reliability

Is the Toyota Prius c Reliable?

The Prius c has a near-perfect predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Toyota Prius c Warranty

The Prius c has a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty for hybrid components.

Read more about reliability »

Prius c Safety

Prius c Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2019 Prius c an overall rating of four out of five stars. The Prius c also earned four stars in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests. In evaluations by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Prius c received the highest rating of Good in four categories, and the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the driver-side small overlap front test. The IIHS noted that with its standard pre-collision system, the Prius c has a Basic level of front crash prevention, which is the lowest level.

Prius c Safety Features

The Prius c comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense suite, which includes a rearview camera, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection.

Read more about safety »

Which Toyota Prius c Model Is Right for Me?

The 2019 Toyota Prius c comes in two trims: L and LE. Most drivers will be satisfied with the base trim, which comes with a host of active safety features and a touch-screen infotainment system. Shoppers interested in additional tech goodies like navigation, an Entune app suite, and satellite radio will want to step up to the LE trim.

Toyota Prius c L

Starting at $21,530, the base L trim comes with cloth seats, manually adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, and remote keyless entry. The standard infotainment system features a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, a USB port, voice recognition, and Siri Eyes Free. A rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection are also standard.

Toyota Prius c LE

The range-topping LE trim adds satellite radio, navigation, HD Radio, the Entune app suite, and push-button start. This model costs $22,955.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

See 2019 Toyota Prius c specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Prius c is worth a look if you're in the market for a hybrid or electric car. It has a low starting price among hybrids, great fuel economy estimates, a spacious cargo area, and a fantastic predicted reliability rating. That said, its weak acceleration and low-grade cabin keep it from finishing higher in our rankings.  

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • It's also important to think of it as an alternative to other subcompact hatchbacks. In that regard, it'll be a little easier to forgive its smaller size, lower-quality cabin, noisy interior and less advanced infotainment. And, compared to such cars as the Honda Fit, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent, you'll find that it delivers superior fuel economy and standard accident-avoidance tech. In the end, the Prius c is far from perfect and probably not for everyone, but there's enough to like to make it an appealing alternative to both other hybrids and subcompact hatchbacks." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "If you're looking for ultimate fuel economy for your money, you'll like the 2018 Toyota Prius C. The hatchback is America's least expensive hybrid and there isn't another subcompact available that can match its fuel-economy ratings of 48-mpg city and 43 mpg on the highway. The Prius C also has a stellar reputation for reliability and comes standard with many high-tech active-safety systems." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • The downside is that the C's entry-level status is pretty evident. The ride quality can be harsh at times, and the interior is full of uninviting hard plastics. The Prius C is also loud inside and slow compared to its competition. But given its high-mpg mission, we don't consider those deal-breakers. Compromises and annoyances, yes, but not deal-breakers. And given Toyota's rock-solid reputation for reliability and low running costs, there's really no other hybrid out there that compares. To get the best fuel economy on a budget, the Prius C is your car." -- Edmunds (2017)
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2019 Toyota Prius c

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