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2012 Toyota Prius c Review

Critics said the 2012 Toyota Prius c isn’t especially fast or thrilling to drive, but is a solid choice if you’re after an incredibly fuel-efficient small car.

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding fuel economy
  • Sluggish acceleration

Rankings & Research

The 2012 Toyota Prius c's #2 ranking is based on its score within the 2012 Subcompact Cars category. Currently the Toyota Prius c has a score of 8.8 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 35 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.7
Performance: 6.5
Interior: 7.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.4
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Toyota Prius c Overview

The 2012 Toyota Prius c achieves a superb EPA fuel economy rating of 53/46 mpg city/highway. However, beyond that, reviewers found little to love about the Prius c’s four-cylinder gas engine and electric motor, which are paired with a continuously variable transmission. Several reviewers noted very slow acceleration, and one mentioned that it is difficult to maintain speed going up steep hills. Still, others said the Prius c has adequate power for city and freeway driving. Some critics wrote that the Prius c handles adequately, and noted that the C4 model has a quicker steering ratio, which makes the Prius c a bit more entertaining to drive. One reviewer also said the regenerative brakes don’t feel as spongy as those found on other hybrids. 

The Prius c’s cabin received mixed marks from reviewers. One noted that some of the materials aren’t as high-quality as those found in other small cars, while others focused on the design, which was generally well-received for its modern look. Auto journalists found the front seats comfortable and supportive. One critic said the back seat is a little short on space, but others noted that it offers plenty of space for adults. The Prius c comes standard with Bluetooth, a four-speaker stereo and a USB port. Available features include Toyota’s Display Audio system with navigation, which features HD and satellite radio, as well as Bing and Pandora integration through smartphone connectivity. Reviewers liked the Prius c’s dashboard display screen and menus for their simplicity and ease of use. The Prius c has 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space, which is slightly less than the cargo space in similarly-sized hatchbacks like the Honda Fit and Chevrolet Sonic.

See the full 2012 Toyota Prius c specs »

Other Cars to Consider

The 2012 Ford Fiesta earned reviewer praise for its nimble handling and high-quality interior. While this non-hybrid can’t match the Prius c’s fuel economy rating, an available SFE fuel economy-boosting package helps it earn 29/40 mpg city/highway, which is very good for the class.

The 2012 Chevrolet Cruze is a bit bigger than the Prius c, and reviewers liked its spacious, well-designed cabin. The available Eco model achieves excellent fuel economy for the class, at up to 28/42 mpg city/highway.

Compare the Prius c, Fiesta and Cruze »


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