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2016 Toyota Prius c Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Toyota Prius c was new.


Performance: 6.5

With its sluggish acceleration, lackluster handling and harsh ride on rough pavement, test drivers agree that the Prius c isn't much fun to drive, especially compared with more capable rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic. However, the 2016 Toyota Prius c’s fuel economy is outstanding for a subcompact.

  • The 2015 Toyota Prius C is surprisingly fun to drive...for a Prius. Based off the Toyota Yaris subcompact, the Prius C hybrid offers better handling thanks to a stronger body, surprisingly sharp steering, and better weight distribution However, a quick drive in the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic will remind you that this is no sporty hatchback." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "The Prius c doesn't have the smooth ride of the regular Prius. They're different cars underneath, and the Prius c's Yaris genes don't do it any favors. It's not as quiet at cruising speeds, either." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "It's kind of loud, it's slow, and the ride quality can be harsh." -- Edmunds (2014)
  • "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 2016 Toyota Prius c has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that make 99 horsepower combined. All models come with a continuously variable transmission, which is a type of automatic.

According to the EPA, the 2016 Prius c earns 53/46 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for both hybrid and subcompact cars.

Though auto writers note that the Prius c has sufficient acceleration for city driving and highway merging, they agree that it still feels very slow overall.

  • Acceleration is comparatively slow as well, but as long as you keep your expectations in check, the C's power should be perfectly acceptable for around-town driving and getting up to highway speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "Acceleration is merely adequate around town and diminishes to meager at highway speeds." -- Consumer Guide (2015)
  • "It's not dangerously slow, but the pokey acceleration, combined with a high level of road noise, won't exactly endear the Prius C to road-trippers." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "The Prius c's tiny engine strained going up steep hills — as do many subcompacts… and mileage dropped significantly." -- Cars.com (2012)

Handling and Braking

The 2016 Toyota Prius c's handling should be fine for everyday driving, according to critics, and its small turning circle makes it maneuverable in tight spaces. However, auto writers point out that the Prius c is noticeably less nimble than many subcompact rivals. Reviewers also note that the Prius c has numb steering and too much wind noise at highway speeds. The Prius c has uneven brake response, test drivers report, though that's common in hybrids, and critics say you'll get used to it once you've driven the car for a while.

  • "[A]gility and road feel through the steering wheel are notably missing when the Prius C is compared with some conventional small hatchbacks. Severe road imperfections cause uncharacteristic harshness and, combined with noticeable wind noise at higher freeway speeds, give the Prius C a budget-car feel." -- Edmunds
  • We also love the tiny turning circle, which makes U-turns a breeze. The regenerative brakes may feel strange if you're a hybrid novice, but you'll get used to their inconsistent feedback in time." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • A stronger body and better weight distribution are key factors contributing the Prius C's nimble handling, although when it comes to carving up the curves, the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic are still leaps and bounds above the Prius C." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
  • "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)

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