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- Least expensive Toyota hybrid
- Clean lines better than Prius Liftback
- Unexpectedly roomy inside
- Direct steering
- Subpar performance
- Very noisy when pushed
- Budget interior materials
- Base Prius Liftback far nicer
The 2018 Toyota Prius C is showing its age; it lacks refinement and is no longer top of the pack on fuel economy, while cheap gas makes the $20K price a heavy lift.
The 2018 Toyota Prius C remains the least expensive hybrid from the company that’s made more hybrids than any other. Now in its seventh and perhaps last year, the 2018 Prius C is a compact hatchback that’s the smallest of the four-car Prius lineup. For 2018, it gets some minor styling tweaks after a more comprehensive front and rear restyle last year. The trim levels are easy to understand: they’re called One, Two, Three, and Four.
We rate the 2018 Toyota Prius C at 5.2 points out of a possible 10, which is slightly below our average for all new cars. (Read more about how we rate cars.) If we get complete safety ratings from the NHTSA, note that the score could change.
A small 1.5-liter inline-4 is paired to Toyota’s hybrid system and a scaled-down battery pack small enough to fit under the rear seat. Inside, the Prius C is more conventional than the Space Age design of other Prius models, but it’s also clearly an economy car, with basic plastics and not a lot of noise suppression.
On the road, the Prius C is slow and when pressed, remarkably noisy. It gets more fun if you push it hard, but the noise and lack of power mean you’ll pay the price for any attempts at street-racer antics. Toyota added modern electronic safety features to the littlest Prius last year, but it still lacks a number of features now offered in newer subcompacts.
With its closest competitor, the unsuccessful Honda Insight, now gone from the market, the Prius C competes with a range of less expensive but newer and nicer subcompact sedans and hatchbacks. It may also vie with the latest generation of the larger Prius Liftback, which was entirely redesigned in 2016.
With gasoline cheap these days, its mix of high fuel-economy ratings and lower price may not be as appealing as they were when it launched. And the subpar performance and refinement are hard to escape, especially against its much-improved big brother, the Prius Liftback.