Toyota’s smallest hybrid, the Prius C, gets an update for 2018, including new styling that gives this little Yaris-based hatchback a more rugged look. There’s also a refreshed interior with new air conditioning controls and steering wheel. A backup camera become standard too, but don’t think Toyota’s being generous: this safety feature will be mandatory in all new cars in Canada starting in May 2018.
Under the new skin lives the same powertrain as before, consisting of a 1.5L four-cylinder engine mated with an electric motor that generates 99 horsepower, which is put to the road through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The Prius C is now generation-old technology, with the totally redesigned Prius liftback that debuted a couple of years ago stealing the spotlight. So while this is an efficient car, with fuel consumption estimates of 4.9/5.5 L/100 km (city/highway), it’s nothing like state-of-the-art, at least in Toyota’s impressive portfolio of hybrid vehicles.
Three distinct packages are available: The base car comes with a 6.1-inch display audio system with Bluetooth, LED headlights and taillights, keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, automatic climate control, 15-inch steel wheels with covers and a one-piece folding rear bench seat.
An upgrade package adds a split-folding rear seat, six-speaker stereo (two more than the base car), multi-adjustable driver’s seat, cruise control and a synthetic leather-trimmed dash.
Finally, a technology package brings navigation, steering wheel touch tracer controls, passive keyless entry, heated front seats, “softex” seating upholstery, sunroof, LED fog lights and 15-inch alloy wheels. Notably, those alloys have been downsized from last year’s 16s, a curious choice given the car’s new body looks bulky around the relatively small wheels.
Despite the Prius C’s popularity, the idea of a subcompact hybrid never caught on with other automakers, so this car’s $22,000 starting point instead makes it something of a more practical alternative to a car like the electric Smart Fortwo for drivers looking for something suited to life in the city.
And we can see the Prius C’s new styling being a harbinger of Toyota ditching this car in future favour of a hybrid version of the CH-R compact crossover, a vehicle that already exists in Europe; as we write this, that new model is a gas-only model in Canada.