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2016 Toyota Prius c Review

The 2016 Toyota Prius c ranks near the bottom of the highly competitive hybrid and electric car class. It has sluggish acceleration and a noisy cabin made with low-rent materials.

Pros & Cons

  • Great fuel economy
  • Large cargo hold
  • Solid reliability rating
  • Cheap cabin materials
  • Sluggish acceleration
  • Noisy at highway speeds
  • Middling safety score

New for 2016

  • New advanced safety options
  • Limited-edition Persona trim with unique styling




Critics' Rating: 7.1
Performance: 5.1
Interior: 5.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.3
Safety: 8.7
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 Toyota Prius c Overview

Is the 2016 Toyota Prius c a Good Used Car?

If you’re looking for a small hybrid with great fuel economy and a good reliability rating, the 2016 Toyota Prius c is worth a look. It has plenty of cargo space for a vehicle in the hybrid and electric car class. Still, it’s not without its flaws. This hybrid has mixed safety scores, a sluggish powertrain, low-end interior materials, and a noisy powertrain at highway speeds.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about the Toyota Prius c in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 49 professional Toyota Prius c reviews.

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Is the 2016 Toyota Prius c?

The average price of a 2016 Prius c is $15,200. For reference, that’s close to what you’ll pay for a 2016 Honda Fit. Based on used car listings on our site, the price ranges from $12,000 to $19,000. A vehicle’s trims, features, condition, mileage, and local demand have an effect on its listing price.

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How Much Does the 2016 Toyota Prius c Cost to Own?

Over five years, expect to pay almost $19,700 for fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs on the 2016 Prius c. In comparison, these expenses for the 2016 Honda CR-Z (another subcompact hybrid) are estimated to be $21,300 – about $1,600 more.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Prius c?

The price of a 2018 Prius c starts at $20,630. That’s above the 2016 Prius c’s highest list price and about $5,400 more than its average price. For safety-minded shoppers, this higher price may be worth it. The refreshed 2018 Prius c outperforms the 2016 model in crash tests, and it comes standard with an impressive amount of safety features that are only available in the 2016’s upper trims. These include high-tech systems such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and a rearview camera. A number of other bonuses – like alloy wheels – are standard in 2018 models as well. If you don’t find these extra perks appealing, stick with the otherwise similar used 2016 Prius c to save money.

Read about the new Toyota Prius c »

A few other new models in the subcompact car class have base MSRPs that are at or below the average price of a 2016 Prius c, though none can match the Toyota’s outstanding fuel economy. Of this short list, the 2018 Kia Rio is one of the best. This small car is available in both sedan ($13,900) and hatchback ($14,200) forms. It doesn’t come with as many standard features as the new Prius c, but the Rio is much more fun to drive. You should also check out the 2018 Hyundai Accent ($14,995). This small sedan is appealing for its spacious cabin, smooth ride quality, and below-average price tag.

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How Reliable Is the 2016 Toyota Prius c?

The 2016 Toyota Prius c has an above-average reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about Prius c reliability »

2016 Toyota Prius c Recalls

Four recalls have been issued on the 2016 Prius c as of this writing. The largest recall fixes a faulty parking brake cable. Two of the recalls address problems with the air bags, and a very small recall (affecting only six vehicles) replaces an incorrectly installed hybrid capacitor. You can do a VIN search to see if any of these recalls affect the specific vehicle you are looking at. If so, be sure that these issues are addressed before you buy.    

See more information on Toyota Prius c safety recalls »

Which Model Year of the Toyota Prius c Is Best? 

The 2016 model is part of the Prius c’s first generation, which launched for 2012 and includes the 2018 Prius c. The 2015 Toyota Prius c may save you money. Though it lacks the advanced available safety features offered in the 2016 Prius c, it's otherwise unchanged from the 2016 model and includes the standard touch-screen infotainment system that was only optional before 2015.

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Prius c »

Which Used Toyota Prius c Model Is Right for Me?

The 2016 Toyota Prius c is available in four trims, conveniently named One, Two, Three, and Four. There's also the Persona Series trim, which is basically the Two trim with distinctive styling. The Prius c One has more standard features – including automatic climate control, a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and a USB port – than most subcompact cars. The Prius c Two adds cruise control, a padded center console with a storage bin, two-tone seat upholstery, and a split-folding rear seat. The Prius c Three includes a proximity key, push-button start, and an upgraded infotainment system with navigation and smartphone app integration. The top Four trim comes with heated side mirrors, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a rearview camera. With its upscale standard features, the Prius c Three is a good choice for most.

See 2016 Toyota Prius c trims and specs »

What Does Toyota's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Toyota offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 85,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Toyota provides a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty on all its certified pre-owned vehicles, and it extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years from the initial sale date or 100,000 miles. Each CPO Toyota must pass a 160-point inspection. Additional benefits like a CarFax vehicle history report, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Toyota warranty page carefully.

Toyota’s CPO program is about average for an affordable carmaker, according to our research. Hyundai and Kia both have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Prius c?

The 2016 Prius c gets mixed crash test ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2016 Prius c Good (the highest rating) in four crash tests. It scores Acceptable in the small overlap front crash test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Prius c an overall rating of four out of five stars, with four stars in frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests. The NHTSA also noted a safety concern for the side crash test, reporting that the interior door panel could strike the torso of the left-side rear passenger.

Standard Prius c safety equipment includes traction control, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist. The Prius c is available with driver-assist technologies, including a rearview camera, a pre-collision system, lane departure assist, and automatic high beams.

See Prius c safety scores »

2016 Toyota Prius c Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2016 Toyota Prius c or 2016 Toyota Prius?

Redesigned for 2016, the Toyota Prius is one of the leading vehicles in our hybrid and electric car rankings. Compared to the Prius c, the Prius has more room up front, a higher reliability rating, and a gentler ride. Perhaps most notably, it gets better gas mileage than the smaller Prius. The Prius c has more rear-seat legroom, but that’s not enough for us to recommend it over the Prius.

Which Is Better: 2016 Toyota Prius c or 2016 Honda Fi?

The nonhybrid 2016 Honda Fit gets excellent fuel economy for a subcompact car, with an EPA-rated 33 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. It also offers a smooth highway ride, and the rear seats are quite spacious. For carrying groceries or sundry household items or even surfboards or bikes, the Fit has one of the most flexible cargo areas among subcompacts. That flexibility makes the Fit the better choice.

Which Is Better: 2016 Toyota Prius c or 2016 Ford Fiesta?

The 2016 Ford Fiesta is better than the Prius c in some ways, but it also comes up short in key areas. Though it isn’t a hybrid, this little Ford offers excellent gas mileage of 31 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway when equipped with the Fuel Economy package. That said, it can't top the Prius c's rating of 53/46 mpg city/highway. The Fiesta has a richer cabin than the Prius c, and the Ford's available touch-screen infotainment system is user-friendly. Despite the Fiesta's positive traits, it earns a poor reliability rating while the Prius c nets an above-average score.

Compare the Prius c, Prius, and Fit »

2016 Prius c Performance

How Does the 2016 Toyota Prius c Drive?

The 2016 Toyota Prius c has a 99-horsepower hybrid powertrain that includes a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Prius c has sufficient in-town acceleration, but it feels extremely slow when trying to reach highway speeds.

The Prius c's handling is fine for everyday driving, and its tight turning radius is a plus when you’re parking. However, it’s noticeably less nimble than many subcompact rivals, and it is noisy on the highway. The Prius c has uneven brake response, though that's common in hybrids.

Does the 2016 Toyota Prius c Get Good Gas Mileage?

This Toyota’s lack of power is the price you pay for stellar fuel economy. The 2016 Prius c gets 53 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway. Those are the second-highest EPA ratings among hybrid cars. Only the standard Toyota Prius (54/50 mpg city/highway) does better.

Read more about Prius c performance »

2016 Prius c Interior

How Many People Does the 2016 Prius c Seat?

The 2016 Toyota Prius c seats five and comes with cloth upholstery. It has hard plastic trim throughout, and the other cabin materials are equally unimpressive. The front seats are fairly comfortable, and the rear seats are spacious.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2016 Toyota Prius c?

The Prius c has complete LATCH systems in the outboard seats with a middle-seat tether anchor. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the LATCH system Marginal, the second-lowest rating, for its ease of use. IIHS found that the lower anchors were too deep in the seats and required excessive effort to attach a car seat.

2016 Toyota Prius c Features

Standard features in the 2016 Toyota Prius c include automatic climate control, a four-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, which includes a 6.1-inch touch screen. The touch-screen infotainment system is easy to use and features large on-screen buttons. However, the screen itself is small and the smartphone app integration feature can be difficult to set up. Available features include cruise control, push-button start, a rearview camera, navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio, a higher-resolution 6.1-inch touch screen, and smartphone app integration.

See 2016 Toyota Prius c specs »

Read more about Prius c interior »

2016 Toyota Prius c Dimensions

Toyota Prius c Cargo Space

The Prius c has a 17.1-cubic-foot cargo area. That’s a great total for the hybrid and electric car class, eclipsing even some midsize hybrids like the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid. The rear seats fold down for additional storage space or to transport larger items.

Toyota Prius c Length and Weight

The Prius c hybrid is 13.1 feet long and has a curb weight of 2,496 pounds.

Where Was the 2016 Toyota Prius c Built?

The 2016 Prius c was built in Japan.

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