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2012 Toyota Prius C: 50-MPG Small Hybrid, $19K


2012 Toyota Prius C launch, Detroit Auto Show

2012 Toyota Prius C launch, Detroit Auto Show

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Toyota used the occasion of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show to introduce the fourth member of the Prius family: the 2012 Prius C hybrid hatchback.

Key attributes of the new small Prius hybrid that may make it a compelling commuter car, or second or third family car, are its 50-mpg combined fuel economy and a starting price of about $19,000.

2012 Toyota Prius C launch, Detroit Auto Show

2012 Toyota Prius C launch, Detroit Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

Our sister publication GreenCarReports has a much more comprehensive look at the 2012 Toyota Prius C, so head on over there for the details. Here we’ll look at some of the highlights.

Although it’s a compact in EPA ratings, Toyota calls the 2012 Prius C a subcompact. The small hybrid is quite a bit shorter (19 inches), two inches narrower and almost two inches lower than the mid-size Prius. The Prius C also weighs in more than 500 pounds less than the standard Prius. Yet the company expects the combined rating to be the same at 50 mpg.

Toyota plays up the 53-mpg city rating, which is the highest city-cycle rating of any non-plug-in car sold in the U.S. The highway rating is 46 mpg, thus resulting in the combined 50 mpg.

Power comes from a 73-horsepower 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine in combination with a 45-kilowatt (60-horsepower) electric motor generator. Maximum power output is 99 horsepower.

2012 Toyota Prius C launch, Detroit Auto Show

2012 Toyota Prius C launch, Detroit Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

The fuel tank and nickel-metal-hydride battery pack are located underneath the rear seat, thus giving the Prius C a deeper load bay than the standard Prius, whose battery pack is positioned beneath the rear deck. The Prius C, Toyota claims, has 17.1 cubic feet of cargo volume.

The 2012 Prius C will be offered in four trim levels, with the starting price of the base model coming in at less than $19,000.

Standard equipment includes a 3.5-inch color information display, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, iPod connectivity via USB port, automatic climate control, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a navigation system and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The 2012 Prius C goes on sale this spring.

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