Given the success of the Toyota Prius, it’s a wonder it has taken Toyota this long to build on the brand equity of the Prius name and offer an expanded line of Prius vehicles. The company has finally taken the initiative, first with the larger Prius v (which The Garage will soon be reviewing), a plug-in hybrid Prius, and, announced at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the Prius c. The ‘c’ here stands for city, and Toyota is seeking young urban dwellers as its most desired demographic.
The Prius c certainly has a more youthful look than its big brother. Compared to the standard Prius, the Prius c is 19″ shorter and weighs 542lbs less. Power comes from a 1.5L Atkinson cycle four cylinder with a total output of 99hp, paired to a continuously variable transmission. Toyota promises fuel economy of 53/46 MPG city/highway, with a combined rating of 50MPG. Toyota claims the Prius c is the most fuel efficient car you can buy without a plug.
The Prius c will be offered in four trim levels. Standard on all models will be auto climate control, Bluetooth and a USB port. Toyota has not provided solid pricing, but did say the Prius c would start under $19,000USD. I think the idea of a smaller, more youthful Prius can only serve to help Toyota, who still struggles to shake its reputation as being a conservative car company for Baby Boomers. With its smaller size and low price, the Prius c practically puts a nail into the coffin of the Honda Insight, a car largely panned by critics, and ignored by buyers. The Prius c is expected to hit the showroom floor in March 2012.