DETROIT – Toyota debuted its new Prius c hatchback at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The automaker said it designed the subcompact as an “urban-friendly” vehicle that offers the utility of a hatchback and with a hybrid's fuel economy. The automaker said it plans for the vehicle to go on sale in March, 2012, and that MSRP will start below $19,000. Toyota said it will offer the Prius c in four trim levels.
The new Prius c gets an EPA-estimated 53 mpg city, 46 highway, for a combined rating of 50 mpg. The gasoline engine is a SULEV (Tier 2 Bin 3) rated 1.5L inline, four-cylinder that utilizes an Atkinson cycle to increase efficiency. It can produce up to 73 horsepower and 82 lb.-ft. of torque on its own. The Prius c’s hybrid system can produce a total of 99 hp (gasoline engine and electric motor).
The Prius c’s hybrid system uses a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The battery pack is located under the rear passenger seat, low in the chassis, which Toyota said helps improve the vehicle’s center of gravity.
Drivers can choose one of three different modes when driving the Prius c. They include Normal, Eco, and EV mode. Eco mode manages climate control and throttle to reduce the vehicle’s energy use. The EV mode allows a driver to use only the electric motor to travel for less than 1 mile at speeds below 25 mph.
The subcompact uses a Macpherson strut design up front and a tuned torsion beam in the back.
Toyota stated it engineered aerodynamic features into the new Prius c to help it achieve a coefficient of drag of 0.28. In terms of dimensions, the Prius c is 157.3 inches long, 56.9 inches tall, and 66.7 inches wide, with a total curb weight of 2,500 lbs.
The vehicle is available in the following nine colors: Habanero, Moonglow, and Summer Rain Metallic (three new colors) and Blue Streak Metallic, Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, and Super White.
The Prius c is available with 15- or 16-inch wheel-and-tire combinations. The 15-inch wheels are available with steel wheel covers for the base model or in aluminum alloy for higher trim levels. Prius c models equipped with the available 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels will have enhanced handling due to a faster steering ratio (2.28 turns lock to lock), according to Toyota.
Inside, the Prius c comes in a basic black interior color with the door trim, seat surfaces, and instrument panel in lighter colors. The Prius c offers a total of 17.1 cu. ft. of cargo volume and 87.4 cu. ft. passenger volume.
Toyota is offering three audio system configurations for the 2012 Prius c. The base audio systems feature four or six speakers, depending on the model, and include AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, and Bluetooth.
The next configuration is called Display Audio with Navigation and Entune, which has six speakers, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM Satellite Radio capability (with 3-month trial subscription to XM Select package), HD Radio with iTunes tagging, and voice recognition.
Standard features in the vehicle include automatic climate control, tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-Information Display and Bluetooth hands-free controls, and remote keyless entry.
The Prius c comes standard with Toyota’s Star Safety System and is equipped with nine airbags. The Star Safety System includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).