2018 Toyota Prius C: Small and Thrifty – Just Don’t Expect to Get Anywhere Quickly [Review]

The Prius c still sips fuels nearly as well as its siblings.

2018 Toyota Prius c


The 2018 Toyota Prius c shows that fuel-stingy small cars have come a long way in recent years. With styling refreshments, it doesn’t look cheap, it’s fairly well-equipped and delivers an estimated 48 miles per gallon in the city and 43 on highways.

The Prius c (Toyota uses a small “c”) is the automaker’s smallest hybrid. The “c” stands for “city.” The car is quite maneuverable and generally fun to drive in city-area traffic because a driver isn’t tossing lots of weight around and has quick, rather firm steering, vehicle stability and traction controls and an anti-lock brake system with brake-force distribution and Smart Stop technology.

The top-line $24,965 Toyota Prius c I tested comes with exterior updates such as black side rocker and wheel arch moldings and silver-accented lower body guards. There’s also a color-keyed rear spoiler, which is there for cosmetic reasons because the car doesn’t go fast enough for a spoiler to be useful.

2018 Toyota Prius c


There are four model grades. The entry-level Prius c One even has such items as power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, tilt/telescopic wheel with wheel controls, automatic climate control, power windows and remote keyless entry. Higher grades have two-tone fabric-trimmed seats, cruise control, premium audio system and a power moonroof.

The quiet interior with its easily gripped steering wheel handles four tall adults, although a long-legged passenger behind a tall driver might want a little more legroom. The cargo area is large for a compact car, and 60/40 split/folding seat backs significantly increase cargo space.

Safety items include heated power outside mirrors with turn signals and 9 air bags and side curtain air bags. The Toyota Safety Sense system features automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert and automatic high beams.

A 3.5-inch multi-information display with selectable screens for such information as outside temperature, fuel economy information and cruising range, cruise control and a 6.1-inch touchscreen with the new backup camera that’s fairly easy to use. 

The Prius c rides on new 15-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels and 65-series tires. (Larger 16-inch wheels and 50-series tires are optional). It’s only 160 inches long and 67 inches wide, so tight-spot parking is relatively easy.

My test car’s heated front seats had good lateral support, but needed more thigh support. The automatic climate control’s air conditioning worked well in 90-degree weather, and there was a convenient pushbutton start and a premium AM/FM audio system with 6 speakers. However, a shorter driver may complain that the dashboard is rather high.

2018 Toyota Prius c


The 2018 Toyota Prius c is fairly light at approximately 2,500 pounds, and thus its s 99-horsepower gas-electric drive system with its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and nickel-metal hybrid battery provides lively in-town acceleration and highway performance. A low .29 coefficient cuts down open-road wind noise.

There are three drive modes: Normal for everyday driving, ECO to reduce overall energy consumption and EV to let the Prius c be driven only by electric power for up to a mile.

The body has high torsional stability and a newly tuned suspension for a comfortable ride and predictable handling. Locating the hybrid battery and fuel tank under the rear seat puts their mass within the car’s 100-inch wheelbase, which contributes to handling ability.

2018 Toyota Prius c


The 2018 Toyota Prius c is fuel-thrifty, maneuverable with a supple ride. On the other hand, space is a bit tight behind a tall driver. The digital speedometer could be quickly read, and manual dash-area HVAC controls were convenient. However, some dashboard area controls were hidden by the steering wheel. The console shifter partially got in the way of the twin cupholders. There’s a fair amount of interior cargo space, including front door storage pockets.

Overall, the 2018 Toyota Prius c is a decent compact hybrid best suited to city-area driving. If you need a bit more space, check out the Toyota Prius against one of its chief rivals, the 2019 Honda Insight. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more news, views and real-world reviews!

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Toyota Prius c 

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $20,630
Price as Tested: $24,965
Engine: 1NZ-FXE 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder
Drivetrain (Layout): Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Horsepower: Engine: 73 hp @ 4,800 RPM

Electric motor: 60 hp/45 kW

Total system net horsepower: 99 hp

Torque: 82 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM
Hybrid system: Type: Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor

Max voltage: 520V DC

Capacity: 6.5 Amp-hour

Transmission: Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson strut w/ stabilizer bar

Rear: Torsion beam

Brakes: Front: 10-inch power-assisted ventilated discs

Rear: 9-inch drum

Tires: Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 P195/50 R16 83V all-season
Fuel capacity: 9.5 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 48 City/43 Highway/46 Combined mpg


Wheelbase: 100.4 inches
Length:  159.8 inches
Width: 67.5 inches
Height:  58.7 inches
Turning Circle: 37.4 feet
Curb Weight: 2,530 pounds