2012 Toyota Prius C vs. Its Competition

2012 Toyota Prius C, as shown at 2011 Tokyo Motor Show
Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor

Looking at price, the 2012 Honda Insight is perhaps closest to how the Prius C is positioned—although the Insight feels like a different kind of car.

With its 'kammback' roofline, which sacrifices backseat and cargo space for better aerodynamics, the Insight (which costs slightly less) should achieve better mileage ratings than its 42-mpg Combined rating.

The Volkswagen Golf costs a bit more in its TDI turbo-diesel trim, and achieves 42 mpg on the highway, although its city gas mileage isn't nearly as impressive.

However, the Golf does feel like a more sophisticated car with superior ride and refinement, compared to these other models.

Otherwise, we can't help but think that much of the competition for the Prius C is going to come from within the Toyota lineup—including from those considering the subcompact Yaris or compact Matrix hatchbacks, or those opting for a well-equipped Prius C Four instead of a base Prius Liftback.

2012 Toyota Prius C, as shown at 2011 Tokyo Motor Show2012 Toyota Prius C
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2012 Honda Insight EX with Navigation2012 Honda Insight
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2011 Toyota Matrix2012 Toyota Matrix
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The 2012 Toyota Prius. Image: Toyota2012 Toyota Prius
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2012 Toyota Yaris 5dr LB Auto LE (Natl) Angular Front Exterior View2012 Toyota Yaris
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2012 Volkswagen Golf 4-door HB Auto Angular Front Exterior View2012 Volkswagen Golf
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Quick Specs
The 2012 Toyota Prius C takes full advantage of the other Prius models' hybrid system, but it's smaller, leaner and--perhaps most importantly--more affordable.
The 2012 Honda Insight has been updated for 2012, but it has less space than other subcompacts and lower mileage than several other hybrids.
The 2012 Toyota Matrix combines the frugality of the best-selling Corolla with a little more sportiness and versatility--but it still comes up a bit short in features.
The 2012 Toyota Prius remains the highest-mileage car offered in the U.S., and it's a practical and capacious mid-size hatchback with room for five
The 2012 Toyota Yaris is fuel-efficient in the city without hybrid hardware, and it has an nicely appointed interior that feels cheerful but not cheapskate; but its weak performance and highway refinement aren't up to current class standards.
The 2012 Volkswagen Golf feels like a premium vehicle, and it's priced like one too, especially its fuel-efficient TDI edition.
MSRP From     
Gas Mileage     
53 MPG City / 46 MPG Hwy41 MPG City / 44 MPG Hwy20 MPG City / 32 MPG Hwy51 MPG City / 49 MPG Hwy30 MPG City / 38 MPG Hwy19 MPG City / 42 MPG Hwy
Gas/Electric I4Gas/Electric I4Gas I4Gas/Electric I4Gas I4Gas I5
EPA Class     
CompactCompact CarsSmall Station WagonMidsize CarsSubcompactCompact
Style Name     
5-Door HB One (GS)5-Door CVT5-Door Wagon Manual L FWD (Natl)5-Door HB One (Natl)3-Door Liftback Manual L (GS)2-Door HB Manual PZEV
Front Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity     
Passenger Doors     
Body Style     
HatchbackHatchback5 Door WagonHatchback3 Door Hatchback2 Door HB
Continuously Variable RatioContinuously Variable TransmissionManualContinuously Variable RatioManualManual
Detailed Spec Comparison
 2012 Toyota Prius C vs. 2012 Honda Insight2012 Toyota Prius C vs. 2012 Toyota Matrix2012 Toyota Prius C vs. 2012 Toyota Prius2012 Toyota Prius C vs. 2012 Toyota Yaris2012 Toyota Prius C vs. 2012 Volkswagen Golf