Toyota refreshed the baby Prius c for 2016 and brought several welcome updates to the smallest hybrid in the Toyota family.
On the outside, a cuter face with updated lighting in the form of available LED daytime running lights and LED high and low beams help illuminate the way at night. These are easily the best headlights we've ever experienced on a vehicle, and recent testing data from the IIHS backs it.
Updated LED taillights round out the back end changes. Upgraded 16-inch alloy wheels were featured on our model and add a lot of style to the side profile of the hybrid.
Inside, the asymmetrical dash is practical with storage spaces all around. The piano black and chrome trim dresses up the cabin but we'd rather see a nicer padded armrest in the doors for our elbows. The center console is soft and provides additional storage inside.
Whether it was around town errands or a 7 hour drive to Manhattan from Rochester, NY, the Prius c proved to be quite comfortable with wide, supportive seats that have the right cushioning to minimize fatigue.
Visibility all around was excellent. A standard backup camera on our trim level, along with the Entune app suite and navigation option, made the center display purposeful.
Advanced safety tech arrives for 2016 models, with the Toyota Safety Sense-C (TSS-C) package. It features a laser and camera system that can detect a vehicle in front of the Prius c and potentially avoid it, or reduce the impact of the accident depending on certain variables. Tied into that same system is Lane Departure Alert (LDA), which reads the road lane markings and warns the driver if they drift out of the lane.
The IIHS rated the Prius c well for protecting passengers during a crash, but has yet to test its 2016 crash prevention tech. Well-designed headlights like we mentioned above allow a driver to prevent an accident, something that's difficult to quantify in the real world.
The TSS-C camera is tied to the headlights and can automatically switch between low and high-beam lights depending on whether there's another car in front of, or coming at, the Prius c. It worked beautifully.
Around town, the engine felt well-matched to the Prius c's weight, with the electric portion of the hybrid synergy drive powertrain giving a torque-filled thrust from a stop, then allowing the gas engine to spool up enough power to tag along and take over at speeds above 15 MPH.
Highway driving was a bit choppy on old pavement, but smooth everywhere else. As expected, the engine makes a bit of noise getting up to speed, but once there settles down quickly.
Around town, the Prius c averaged 48.7 MPG, and on the highway with a heavy foot, around 44.3 MPG. That's quite impressive for two passengers and a loaded cabin for a week-long trip.
If you're looking for a fuel miser with comfortable front seats, usable rear seats, practicality and spend more time in urban driving than highway, we highly recommend taking a look at the Prius c.
Model: Prius c
Trim Level: Four
Engine: 1.5L Gas/Electric Hybrid
Observed Fuel Economy: 48.7 city/44.3 highway
Equipment Options: 16-inch alloys, Toyota Safety Sense-C
Base Price: $19,560
As-Tested Price: $26,320