Littlest Toyota Prius C an adorable tightwad

Written by on November 25, 2014 in Cars and Chicks, Perspectives, Trends - 18 Comments

Krystyna Lagowski 2014 Prius CSo all of a sudden, gas is cheap. Only $1.14 a litre. Naturally, it’s the perfect time to see how many kilometres I can squeeze out of that litre. And what’s more perfect than a 2014 Toyota Prius C? Not only is it the littlest hybrid around, it’s downright adorable. Decked out in eye-popping yellow and roosting on its 16 inch alloy wheels, it was an electricity-eating Pikachu of a car.

But this wasn’t my first time with a Prius. We go all the way back to 2000, when the original Prius arrived in Canada.  Since Toyota was most protective of its prodigy, the only way I could get behind the wheel was in the company of Toyota’s head of PR, F. David Stone. Now, you know when there’s a standalone consonant in front of a man’s name, he’s a man to be reckoned with. And so it was with Stone.

He pulled up on an ashen, overcast autumn afternoon in an innocuous beige Toyota Corolla. On the back of the car, there was a tiny square grey badge that simply read “Prius.” You’d never know this banal beige shell was powered by industry-shaking technology.

Prius C Front

Stone himself was an understated, middle-aged man, with steel-rimmed glasses, salt and pepper hair, and a calm manner. He graciously opened the driver’s door for me, and as soon as he sat down in the passenger side, I turned the key and – nothing happened. I quickly glanced over at him, and Stone was smiling. “It’s on,” he said. “The engine doesn’t make a sound.”

Well, I felt like quite the duncehead! He reassured me that everyone’s first experience with a hybrid was similar to mine, and although he could have made fun of me, he didn’t. We had a lovely afternoon, talking about hybrids and history. It turned out Stone was quite the militaria buff, with an extensive knowledge of World War II. As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I’m a little obsessed with everything from Nuremberg to Yalta and in between. So we nattered away about the infamous house painter, his Third Reich, the Axis and the Allies, and so on.

Prius C driver frontI’m not sure what happened to F. David Stone, but I do know that the Prius grew up to become the best-selling hybrid in the world today. And when you have a best-seller, you make variants. So now, the enviro-crowd can choose from a Prius, a Prius V (for gear-hauling families) and Prius C (for downtown singletons). In fact, when I first saw the Prius C two years ago, I figured it for a game-changer. With its small size and modest price tag, it made hybrid technology accessible to eco-minded drivers everywhere.

A pint-size replica of its bigger siblings, the Prius C’s engine and motors was just as restrained as the first Prius I drove – even though it was a kaleidoscope of lights and colour, inside and out. Surprisingly, this Prius did not overwhelm with technology. The steering wheel was spare, with only the usual cruise, audio and a set of driving mode buttons. If you wanted to see the real action, you had to look over to the centre of the dashboard – which took a few minutes of getting used to.

Here, in addition to the speedometer, a 3.5 inch screen displayed a plethora of information. You could click between eight different functions to see stats on everything from what the car was doing in terms of current flow from battery to brake to generator, how far you’ve travelled, to how you’re doing with fuel savings. I could have spent all day just analyzing what I was doing, how the car was responding, to really whip those kilometres down to size.

Prius C back

As it was, I chose to cruise around town, skirting the bulldozers, dump trucks and excavators that have turned Toronto the good into Toronto the congested. Armed with 99 hp, the Prius C got me on the highway without embarrassment, but that’s not the point of this car. In fact, I was astonished by how much room there was inside its diminutive body – plenty of space to stretch out and shlep my enormous purse, a week’s worth of groceries and cat litter. Toyota does ergonomics like no one else, and although there weren’t as many seat adjustments as the Lexus CT200H, there were enough to feel comfortably accommodated.

Prius C into the sunAnd the good folks at Toyota had seen fit to equip the Prius C with satellite radio, so I could listen to the Broadway station. As I listened to peppy gems like Pippin, I could practically feel electrical current humming through the cables. Every time I touched the brakes, power shot back to the motor and kept the gas tank muzzled. Even a trip to the north of the city in the cold November rain, barely budged the fuel gauge. In all honesty, I thought it might be broken!

According to the readout, I averaged 5.3 L/100 k (44 mpg), which is quite extraordinary. When I returned the Prius a week later, I filled the tank – for a measly $9.23.  I usually have to cough up $30.00 for a week’s driving.

According to Toyota Canada, this year, the Prius C represented 40 percent of Prius family sales, up 14 percent from 2012. So for some, the “C” might stand for “city” and to others, it might stand for “cute.”

You could also say it stands for “cost-conscious.” And, obviously – “champ.”

Priius C side-ish view



18 Comments on "Littlest Toyota Prius C an adorable tightwad"

  1. Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) November 25, 2014 at 11:34 am · Reply

    I have 2 friends now who have the Prius and they both rave about it…along with patting themselves on the back for being so environmentally conscientious:) I didn’t know that they had birthed a few variants! So as usual, this was an interesting read…and informative as always. By the way…a few posts ago (my post on grateful) there is a request waiting for you in the post:) Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 26, 2014 at 4:01 am · Reply

      The Prius was a brilliant marketing move on Toyota’s part – you can drive down the street with your environmentally conscious heart on your sleeve for all to see. That’s what got all the celebrities driving them. Having said all that, this tiny Prius was wonderful to drive. Toyota really does know what they’re doing in this area! Happy Thanksgiving to you : )) (thanks for the request – you’ll see I’ve responded)

  2. Ken Dowell November 26, 2014 at 12:41 am · Reply

    I recently rented a Prius and was amazed at how much I liked it. I was in Colorado and was driving through mountains on highways and was impressed with the way it handled and the surprising amount of power. I own a Ford Escape Hybrid and with that you don’t pull out onto the highway if there is another car in sight. In the four days I had the Prius I never got used to turning the engine on without the gas engine turning over. The Escape doesn’t work like that, you always start with the gas engine. After my rental I was thinking of buying a Prius and I had also thought of going to your blog to see if you have ever reviewed one. And then, lo and behold, there was the review. Thanks.

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 26, 2014 at 3:58 am · Reply

      Some companies, like VW, are putting turbos in their hybrids for that very reason, Ken! The mechanics of a hybrid just do not lend themselves to great acceleration. But the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive uses a high torquing electric motor, and a well tuned suspension makes for better-than-average handling. And – of course – you save $$$ on gas! Glad I could be of help : ))

  3. Jeri November 26, 2014 at 12:43 am · Reply

    OMG a yellow Prius C… sign me up now 🙂 If we were shopping for a second car, I know a Prius would be at the top of our list. The gas-guzzling SUV gets old at times, but it a must for all the camping and hiking we do.

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 26, 2014 at 3:54 am · Reply

      Honestly, Jeri, I wasn’t sure how I felt about a yellow car but it was just like a giant burst of sunshine. Those guzzlers, sometimes, we can’t do without them. At least gas is cheaper these days!

  4. Noelle McNamara November 26, 2014 at 6:08 am · Reply

    WOW!! I would love a Prius C…and I am shocked at how much cheaper it is!

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 30, 2014 at 12:04 am · Reply

      Noelle, I had no idea I would be saving that much money, and was thrilled. More than makes up for the fact that the Prius is a little more expensive than others in its class. : ))

  5. Lenie November 26, 2014 at 9:41 am · Reply

    I don’t know anyone here who owns a Prius but I wish I did – after reading this I would love to check one out and go for a ride in one. I’m sure you’re familiar with Grey and Bruce counties, we’re the ones that are always under snow-watch warnings so everyone here drives 4 wheel drive SUV’s and huge (ugly) pickups. Not a Prius in sight. Maybe I’ll need to move to TO ..LOL

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 30, 2014 at 12:03 am · Reply

      I love Grey and Bruce counties, Lenie! It’s so picturesque – do you get out on the Bruce Trail much? Great for hiking, although maybe not so much at this time of year. There are hybrid SUVs and trucks, if one is determined to go that route, made by Toyota, Subaru and Ford.

  6. A.K.Andrew November 26, 2014 at 9:34 pm · Reply

    It certainly looks like a real cute for sure. They are still pretty expensive, though. But you made this one look pretty attractive for sure. I was surprised when I was in Bologna a couple of years ago that almost all the taxis were Prius. I assumed there must have been some kind of city subsidy they were so prevalent, but don’t know for sure. either way I thought it was a great move on behalf of the Italians.

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 29, 2014 at 11:56 pm · Reply

      I didn’t know that about Italy! Good for them. Gas is very expensive there, and pollution is very much a big problem. I do know that many European cities have car-free days. So perhaps this is another strategy. Thanks for telling me!

  7. Meredith Wouters November 27, 2014 at 1:32 am · Reply

    It is super cute! I always think of the Prius as undersized and over-hyped, but I think you’ve changed my mind. The gas statistics alone are worth a second look. I’m a Toyota fan already, so I’d be willing to give this one a try.

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 29, 2014 at 11:55 pm · Reply

      When it first came out, yes, I dismissed it as hype too. But having spent a week with one – and not the most deluxe version – I’d have to say the Prius has a lot going for it. Even compared to a similar Lexus hybrid, it’s all anyone needs.

  8. andleeb November 28, 2014 at 8:47 am · Reply

    This car is very cute with a lot of efficiency but unfortunately expensive. I feel most of people are toyota fans, after reading this post many will give this a try.

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 29, 2014 at 11:52 pm · Reply

      Actually, Andleeb, the Prius C isn’t that much more than a lot of other cars in its class. If someone has their heart set on a hybrid, but can’t spend a lot, this is the way to go!

  9. Beth Niebuhr November 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm · Reply

    My son has a Prius and he let me drive it. He’s 6 feet and not at all cramped and I found it roomy. (Most any car feels roomy compared to my Miata of course.) I think Toyota made a great move with the Prius. And I think the idea is catching on very nicely, thank you!

    • Krystyna Lagowski November 29, 2014 at 11:51 pm · Reply

      You’re so right, Beth! Prius is the best selling hybrid in the world, and with good reason. And while I’m sure you find the Prius more roomy than your Miata, well, I’m sure the Miata offers you a host of other delights … : ))

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