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2013 Toyota Prius c Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Toyota Prius c was new.


Performance: 6.5

With an engine and electric motor that make a total of 99 horsepower, some car reviewers say the 2013 Toyota Prius c is underpowered. However, with its good fuel economy ratings, regenerative brakes that aren’t as mushy as the ones in other hybrids and good steering feel, reviewers think the Prius c will please fuel-conscious shoppers.

  • "While not exactly geared for stoplight-to-stoplight shootouts, the Prius C proved fully capable of coping with both urban commuting and freeway cruising duties." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "In terms of driving performance, the Prius c is about as exciting as you might predict, which is not very." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Toyota Prius c has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 45 kW electric motor. Combined, they make 99 horsepower. All models have a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The EPA rates the Prius c at 53/46 mpg city/highway, which is a very good rating for a small hybrid car.

According to many reviewers, the 2013 Prius c isn’t powerful at all. One auto critic also dislikes the CVT, saying it is adequate but isn’t smooth or pleasant. However, he mentions that that is common for CVTs.

  • "With a grand total of 99 horsepower, Prius c is not going to win any stoplight grand prix. It's fairly slow going from a stop and when you need to merge onto the highway. The one bright spot is the car's mid-range throttle response." -- Consumer Guide
  • "And despite its lightness and its sporting pretensions, the Prius C can feel even more lugubrious than its 99-hp net rating might indicate." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "The Prius c's tiny engine strained going up steep hills - as do many subcompacts. …" -- Cars.com (2012)
  • "Acceleration is slow, but the C's power is perfectly acceptable for around-town driving and getting up to highway speeds." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "And the CVT (continuously variable-ratio automatic transmission) revs the engine hard under acceleration and keeps it so until the car's speed catches up. All CVTs do it, but that doesn't make it OK." -- USA Today (2012) 

Handling and Braking

Hybrids’ regenerative brakes can be mushy and grabby, but one test driver says this isn’t the case with the Toyota Prius c. No reviewer says the Prius c is fun to drive, though that’s common for hybrid cars, which prioritize efficiency rather than driving engagement. Reviewers are satisfied with the Prius c's steering, saying that steering feel is fine for a commuter car. One reviewer adds that the ride is harsh.

  • "The regenerative brakes are particularly impressive, having shed most of the sponginess that hampered earlier systems, leaving only a hint of grabbiness during stop-and-go traffic." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "As for its other dynamic qualities, the Prius C's electric power steering provides decent feel and body roll is remarkably well controlled in corners." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "At highway speeds, however, that 99 horsepower can make the C feel as if it's motoring through an atmosphere a lot thicker than planet Earth's. Again, repeat: 99 hp and 50 overall mpg. So this is no surprise. However, its oddly brittle ride quality -- sometimes degenerating into a snare drum drumroll -- was. Toyota needs to find a compromise between this and the bigger Prius Liftback's excessively mushy motions." -- Motor Trend (2012)
  • "Steering was less sharp in the other Prius c models, with much more play in the steering wheel. While I wouldn't call any of the trims a fun car to pilot through twisty roads, they're more than adequate for the typical commuter." -- Cars.com (2012, excluding Prius c Four)

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