2018 Toyota Prius c

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MSRP: $20,630 - 24,965

2018 Toyota Prius c Review

The 2018 Toyota Prius c hybrid boasts outstanding fuel efficiency and deft maneuverability in tight city environments. However, the Prius c is held back in our rankings due to its sluggish acceleration and plain-Jane cabin.

7.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.6
Performance: 6.7
Interior: 7.1
Safety: 8.7
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of user-friendly infotainment features
  • More standard safety features than rivals
  • Class-leading fuel economy among subcompact cars
  • More affordable than most hybrids

 

  • Low-grade cabin materials
  • Slow to accelerate
  • Loud at highway speeds
  • Pricier than most subcompact cars

 

 

Is the Toyota Prius c a Good Car?

The Prius c is a good hybrid, but it’s just an OK subcompact car overall. This hatchback gets better gas mileage than any other car in the subcompact car class. It also comes standard with advanced safety features like forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Though budget-friendly small cars aren't typically known for engaging performance or a stylish cabin, the Prius c still lags behind many of its rivals. Engine power is weak, handling is dull, and the interior is filled with hard plastics and low-quality materials.

Should I Buy the Toyota Prius c?

If you're looking for a practical, affordable daily driver, the Toyota Prius c is a compelling choice. For a little over $20,000, you'll get a decent amount of cargo room and lots of user-friendly standard features. The Prius c is easy to pilot through crowded urban areas, and its great fuel efficiency makes it a good, no-frills commuting partner.However, if you're put off by the negatives listed above, consider the other subcompact cars that warrant a look. The Honda Fit, for example, is more fun to drive and has a refined interior. Or, shoppers who are set on buying a hybrid may find a better overall package with the time-honored Toyota Prius.

Compare the Prius c, Fit, and Prius »

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Prius c?

Toyota introduced the Prius c for the 2012 model year, and the 2018 model is still part of the inaugural generation. The 2017 model had updated exterior styling and added new standard driver assistance features like lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking (these features were previously optional). The 2018 model further updated the exterior styling but otherwise had no major changes.

Despite the minor recent changes, the 2018 Prius c is largely similar to several preceding models, and you can potentially save thousands by buying this Toyota as a used model. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 Toyota Prius c and the 2017 Toyota Prius c. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Prius c »
We Did the Research for You: 54 Reviews Analyzed

For our 2018 Toyota Prius c review, we researched dozens of professional evaluations, along with safety scores, reliability data, and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best buying decision possible.

Our 2018 Prius c overview includes applicable data and reviews from the 2012 through 2018 model years, which are all the years of the current generation.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than a combined 75 years of experience in the automotive industry. To maintain objectivity, we don't accept incentives or expensive gifts from car companies, and an outside team handles the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Toyota Prius c Cost?

Prices for the 2018 Prius c start at $20,630. That makes it one of the least expensive hybrid vehicles you can buy, but it's pricey compared to other subcompact cars. The Prius c is available in four trim levels: One ($20,630), Two ($21,430), Three ($22,855), and Four ($24,965).

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 a compact car. Its starting price is a couple thousand dollars higher than the Prius c’s; it’s more in line with the Prius c's upper trims. The regular Prius' larger size naturally results in more space for passengers and a larger cargo hold, but it also provides a more serene ride quality. The Prius is one of the most efficient non-plug-in hybrids available, with fuel economy estimates that top 50 mpg. Overall, the Prius is the better bet – unless you prefer the maneuverability of the smaller car.  

Which Is Better: Toyota Prius c or Toyota Yaris?

Neither the Toyota Yaris nor the Prius c does very well in our rankings, but each offers a few perks. The Yaris, which is not a hybrid, is expected to be one of the most reliable subcompact cars you can buy, and it has a good safety rating. Its lower MSRP also saves you about $5,400 over the Prius c. However, you'll get much better gas mileage with the Prius c, along with a larger cabin.

Which Is Better: Toyota Prius c or Honda Fit?

The Honda Fit tops our list of subcompact cars for a lot of reasons: it has great crash test ratings, an exceptionally roomy cabin, and nimble and composed handling. It's not a hybrid like the Prius c, but the Fit still offers good fuel economy estimates. The Fit retails for several thousand dollars less than the Prius c, though its high-quality interior feels like it belongs in a pricier car. There's also a long list of available features. Not only is the Fit a much better car than the Prius c, it's a better value. In fact, we named it our 2018 Best Subcompact Car for the Money.

Compare the Prius c, Prius, and Fit »

Prius c Interior

How Many People Does the Prius c Seat?

The Prius c comes with five seats, four of which can reasonably accommodate adults. While the seating features are basic (you're limited to riding on four- or six-way manually adjustable front seats), its cushions are cozy enough that you won't feel beat up after a long day of driving.

Prius c and Car Seats

There are three tether anchors in the back seat of the Prius c, all of which are easy to see and use. The two sets of lower anchors – located on the outboard seats – are not as user-friendly. The hardware is deeply recessed in the seat cushions, and clipping in a car seat takes extra effort.

Prius c Interior Quality

The Prius c's cabin is solid but features many low-quality materials, and Toyota's sparse selection of options offers little opportunity to enhance it. The ride leans on the loud and coarse side of the spectrum.

Prius c Cargo Space

With its hatchback body style, the petite Prius c offers an ample amount of cargo room. It's worth noting that while this is categorized as a subcompact car, the Prius c's 17.1-cubic-feet of space is more generous than the average compact car. If you need a higher carrying capacity from a fuel-efficient car, consider the Toyota Prius or Ford C-Max Hybrid.

Prius c Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Every Prius c comes with an infotainment system that is easy to learn and straightforward to use. It includes a 6.1-inch touch screen, along with Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free. This technology allows you to use voice commands to control your iPhone when it's connected via Bluetooth. An upgraded infotainment interface is included in the top two trim levels. This system takes smartphone integration a step further, granting access to apps like iHeartRadio and Pandora. Navigation, satellite radio, and HD Radio are also included with the upgraded interface.

Read more about interior »

Prius c Performance

Prius c Engine: Slow, Even for a Hybrid

This hybrid powertrain (composed of a four-cylinder gasoline engine, an electric motor, and a continuously variable automatic transmission) is clearly designed to emphasize fuel efficiency over all else. With a rating of 99 horsepower, it has enough gusto to handle all your in-town errands with relative ease, but it needs lots of pavement to reach highway speeds. Once you do get up to speed, expect a loud ride.

Prius c Gas Mileage: Fuel-Sipping Subcompact

The Prius c leads the subcompact car class when it comes to fuel efficiency. It gets 48 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway, which is also above average among hybrid cars.

Prius c Ride and Handling: Composed City Car

The Prius c is at home in the city, where its tight turning radius and precise steering make for easy parking. Elsewhere, handling is composed but bland, and its regenerative brakes take a little time to get used to if you're new to driving a hybrid.

Read more about performance »

Prius c Reliability

Is the Toyota Prius c Reliable?

The 2018 Prius c earns a predicted reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. While that’s in line with the average new car, more than half of this Toyota’s subcompact competitors fare better.

Toyota Prius c Warranty

Toyota covers the Prius c with 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 gives the 2018 Prius c four out of five stars overall, with four stars in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests. The Prius c earned the highest rating of Good in four individual tests at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as well as a slightly lower rating of Acceptable on the small overlap front test.

Prius c Safety Features

Every Prius c includes a bundle of advanced safety features dubbed Toyota Safety Sense. This system's forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking can help prevent a front crash. Lane departure warning, a rearview camera, and automatic high beams are also standard.

Read more about safety »

Which Toyota Prius c Model Is Right for Me?

Toyota offers four Prius c trim levels (dubbed One, Two, Three, and Four), with prices ranging from $20,630 to $24,965. When picking the best model for you, pay careful attention to the standard features each has to offer. Only a couple packages are available, which means that what you see below is pretty much what you get with this car.

Of the four trims, we think the Prius c Three comes with the best collection of amenities. Its upgraded infotainment interface comes with navigation, but the Entune app suite is what really stands out. This gives you quick and easy access to apps like Pandora, Slacker Radio, and Yelp, along with info like weather and fuel prices.

Toyota Prius c One

The Prius c One ($20,630) comes with cloth seats, power windows, four-way manually adjustable front seats, the Entune Audio interface, a 6.1-inch touch-screen infotainment display, a USB port, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, a four-speaker sound system, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and Toyota Safety Sense, which includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.

Toyota Prius c Two

Interior upgrades in the $21,430 Prius c Two include cruise control, a six-speaker audio system, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat.

Toyota Prius c Three

The infotainment system in the Prius c Three ($22,855) features the Entune Premium Audio interface, which adds navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio, and the Entune app suite. This trim also comes with push-button start and proximity keyless entry. Its only available option is a moonroof.

Toyota Prius c Four

The $24,965 Prius c Four comes with SofTex seat upholstery and interior trim (Toyota's synthetic leather), heated front seats, and a moonroof.

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 2018 Toyota Prius c specs and trims »

The Final Call

Among hybrid cars, the Toyota Prius c costs less than most, and even its base model comes with a nice suite of advanced safety technology and an easy-to-use infotainment system. However, the interior is crowded with hard plastics. With its coarse ride and slow acceleration, the Prius c can be an unpleasant (though extremely fuel-efficient) car for highway travel.

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

  • "So there are gives and takes within the Prius family, but it's also important to think of the Prius c as an alternative to other subcompact hatchbacks. In that regard, it'll be a little easier to forgive its smaller size, lower-quality cabin and elevated cabin noise. And, compared to such cars as the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent, you'll find that it delivers superior fuel economy and more feature content -- in particular the Safety Sense package of accident avoidance tech that's now standard." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "Think of the 2017 Toyota Prius C as the skinny latte of the Prius family. It still seats five, has four doors and performs the same Herculean fuel-efficiency feats as the larger Prius and Prius V wagon, but in a slimmer, city-friendly package. This is a car that embraces its life's purpose as a fuel-sipping, easy-to-park and practical little hatchback, a conclusion we reached after spending a year with one." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "If your budget is lean, don't think a hybrid is out of reach. In the 2017 Toyota Prius C, buyers can have the quality and reliability of the standard Toyota Prius, albeit in a smaller, less powerful version. For around $25,000, Prius C buyers can have a nicely equipped, eco-friendly driver." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
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