2014 Toyota Prius C: The Little Hybrid That Could [Review]

2014 Toyota Prius C Profile

The 2014 Toyota Prius C is the smallest member of the Prius family, but even though it sacrifices on space and cargo capacity, it delivers with the fuel economy that makes hybrids, and especially the Prius, so popular.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2014 Toyota Prius C $19,080 $23,318 99/125
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 53/46/50 46.8

The Prius C is in its third year and the little subcompact continues to deliver the goods to those looking for great fuel economy in a small package. Prius is arguably the big name in hybrids, and if you’re looking to get into a Prius, then the C is your cheapest route.

Starting at just $19,080, this hybrid is easy on your wallet from the showroom to the gas pump. It delivers 53/46/50 city/highway/combined fuel economy so rising gas prices won’t be a pressing concern. If your priority is getting the best MPG possible, you really can’t beat a hybrid.

2014 Toyota Prius C Front Quarter

Unlike a few years back, when gas prices soared along with the popularity of hybrids, there are a lot of choices today. The Toyota Prius C is so small that it fits in a very narrow niche of that market. Families are going to find it okay for the kids in the back, but Mom and Dad will likely wish for more space up front. The minimal cargo space in that little hatch will likely be a deal breaker and may mean moving on up to the Prius, or a Honda Civic Hybrid even though they’ll cost more to get into the driveway.

Comfort, well, it’s about on par with the rest of the Toyota Prius line which means its okay. The seats are firm and supportive but lack the true comfort need for longer journeys although younger drives likely won’t care. The overall interior is clean, simple, and uncomplicated except for the number of options displayed on the information screen.

It’s almost like you’ve got a mini-game on your dashboard, which, technically, you do, as it tracks and compares your drive from trip to trip. You can see how you’re doing with your mileage from moment to moment, easily see if you did better on today’s commute than yesterday’s, and basically play at hypermiling against yourself in the ultimate game of fuel economy.

2014 Toyota Prius C Dash

Hybrids take a lot of heat, especially the smaller ones, for not being pleasant to drive and this one falls pretty squarely in the line of fire. Although it is small and nimble which makes it great for navigating city streets and crowded parking lots, highway driving is another story.

You’ve got all of 99 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque to play with which is just, well, not a lot. If you don’t believe me, try accelerating into heavy traffic. Those low numbers mean you are going to merge behind rather than in front of just about everyone. The Prius C will also protest your attempts at speed very loudly. Engine, wind and particularly road noise are jarringly loud.

2014 Toyota Prius C Rear Quarter

Handling at highway speeds is okay, with tight responsive steering, but although this may look like a hot hatch form the outside, it most definitely is a hybrid behind the wheel. Bumps in the pavement will have the 2014 Prius C jumping about a little forcing increased driver concentration. Cornering is best done at lower speeds or that same sensation of the Prius C sliding away from you is disconcerting.

The 2014 Toyota Prius C clearly was not designed to be all things to all people, and that’s to be applauded. This car is ideal for those with short commutes through heavy stop and go traffic where its fuel economy excels. It is great for the city dweller who wants an economical way to get around that will easily squeeze into the smallest of parking spaces. And it’s a great choice for your college kid who needs a way to get around at school and take those holiday road trips home.

2014 Toyota Prius C Rear Quarter

The number of EVs and hybrids on the market continues to grow, as well as fuel efficient compacts in general, so there are plenty of options. The Nissan Versa Note runs about $5K less although with lesser fuel economy. There’s also the fun factor which points to something like a Volkswagen Golf which comes darn close with its 42 mpg highway rating and is much more fun to drive, but the 2014 Prius C holds its ground. As a small, affordable hybrid that’s good for the city dweller or short-distance commuter, it’s a car worth considering.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2014 Toyota Prius C Lease It!

Check out this mashup review featuring the 2013 Ford Fiesta, Toyota Prius C, and Scion IQ.

Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole is a member of the New England Motor Press Association and also writes for Automotive IT News, NerdApproved, and GeekMom. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.