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2012 Toyota Prius C Unveiled: Compact 52-MPG-Plus Hybrid Hatchback

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Toyota is doubling down on its best-known model for gas mileage, the Prius hybrid.

It's already added two models to sit beside the 2012 Prius five-door hatchback, and now, the last new addition to the Prius lineup has been revealed.

The 2012 Toyota Prius C, the first compact Prius since the original 2000-2003 model, was unveiled today at the Tokyo Motor Show. It will make its formal U.S. debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January.

Toyota variously calls the Prius C a compact and a subcompact, though with continuous "bracket creep" as smaller cars get larger, its dimensions appear to split the difference.

The production version of the Prius C is quite different from the two concept cars that previewed it, but it's still recognizably a Prius hybrid.

52 mpg city ... or more

And Toyota says the Prius C will offer "the highest city mpg of any non-plug-in vehicle," which means higher than the mid-size Prius Liftback's EPA rating of 51 mpg.

The 2012 Toyota Prius C is meant to offer an entry-level Prius model for younger drivers, so its price should be lower than the current Prius II hatchback's sticker of $23,520 (plus destination). It's also aimed at buyers seeking sportier handling and driving dynamics.

Compared to the current mid-size 2012 Toyota Prius, it's 19 inches shorter, 2 inches narrower, almost 2 inches lower, and has a wheelbase nearly 6 inches shorter.

It's powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, coupled to the Hybrid Synergy Drive system with two electric motor-generators and a planetary gearset, which effectively gives it an electric continuously variable transmission (eCVT) for maximum efficiency. Toyota did not release power outputs.

Among the battery pack, eCVT transmission, and power electronics, the Prius C's hybrid system weighs almost 90 pounds less than the one in the larger Prius hatchback. Toyota did not specify whether it uses a lithium-ion or nickel-metal-hydride battery pack.

2013 Toyota Prius C, as shown at 2011 Tokyo Motor Show

2013 Toyota Prius C, as shown at 2011 Tokyo Motor Show

Enlarge Photo

The 2012 Prius C will feature lots of convenience features and in particular, Toyota says, premium electronics and infotainment systems.

Standard fittings include Bluetooth hands-free connectivity for mobile phones and music players, audio controls on the steering wheel, and nine airbags. It will offer Sirius XM satellite radio, voice recognition, streaming music, and both text-to-voice and voice-to-text abilities.

Entune too

There's also the new Toyota Entune multimedia system, which integrates entertainment, navigation, and information services that include live traffic data, weather reports, gasoline price and location, sports updates, and stock prices. 

Drivers and passengers can use Toyota-approved apps, including Bing, OpenTable, and MovieTickets.com. Entune also includes access to Pandora and other streaming radio services,

The total feature set creates, according to its press release, a "less compromised compact-car experience"--though we're not sure what that says about the current Toyota Corolla.

Japanese model: "94 mpg"

In Japan, the Toyota Prius C will be known as the 'Aqua' rather than a Prius model. It is also said to achieve 94 mpg on the very different Japanese test cycle, but we'll wait for EPA ratings on the U.S. version before we draw any conclusions about its gas mileage in real-world usage here.

The car's lines were first leaked about a month ago, when a brochure for the Prius Aqua appeared on Japanese websites.

Toyota has shown two separate concepts for what became the production Prius C: The most recent was the Prius C concept shown at last January's Detroit Auto Show, which refined styling and packaging ideas that were first shown the year before in the FT-Ch concept from January 2010.

The 2012 Toyota Prius C is expected to go on sale during 2012. Toyota has not yet released any pricing information or trim levels.

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Comments (20)
  1. I can't help but wonder if this is the biggest treat yet to the Nissan LEAF. If you compare economics, pollution, and green cred, the Prius C may compare favorably with the LEAF.

    Let's say the Prius C is $20,000 and the LEAF is $27,500 (after $7500 rebate) EPA puts the fuel costs of a Prius at $1026/yr and a LEAF at $612/yr for a $414/yr difference.

    That means it takes 18 years of fuel savings to pay off the difference between Prius C and the LEAF.

    Lot of speculation here I know. I also know an EV can "run on sunshine" though most probably won't. But I think the Prius C will give the LEAF a run for its money.
     
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  2. Don't be too sure about that sunshine thing: there are big changes in solar efficiency on the horizon. You haven't heard about it because it's a "garage" innovation, unfunded and unheard of. Soon, soon....
     
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  3. Yep, along with hydrogen fuel cells and thorium powered cars and perpetual motion machines as well.
     
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  4. While not a beautiful car, I think the back end of the Prius C looks significantly better than the LEAF back end.
     
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  5. Agreed. Overall, not a bad look at all. If the mileage turns out to be closer to 60 than the temporary 52 now, it's a winner even if the design isn't as nice as some might like. For that it is, I'm very pleased.
     
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  6. Agreed. Overall, not a bad look at all. If the mileage turns out to be closer to 60 than the temporary 52 now, it's a winner even if the design isn't as nice as some might like. For that it is, I'm very pleased.
     
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  7. If the "C" only gets 52mpg, why would you purchase this over the standard Prius? 60mpg would make it a viable alternative.
     
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  8. I suspect it will actually be EPA rated at 60 mpg city. But, for now, no one knows.
     
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  9. I agree.
     
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  10. **treat** should be **threat** sigh
     
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  11. For many it is not about the operating cost of fuel vs electric, as it is about emission free driving. Then the Leaf, or better the Mitsubishi i and any other pure EV win!

    And for another subgroup mainly in the South and West, these people have or soon plan to have solar photovoltaic panels on the homes. Once you make the commitment to provide some or all your homes electric energy needs then the EV wins for there might not even be ANY actual electric charges to power that technology. Several of my EV friends around Sacramento have home photovoltaic systems big enough (as we do) to fully wipe out ALL our home AND car charging electricity costs !

    The Prius C will be a great choice for those in the less sunny areas.
     
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  12. Count me as a little skeptical here. The average home takes 10,000KWH/year. Even a large PV array is not going to handle that, never mind an EV on top of that.

    Yes, with aggressive home energy conservation and 7KW array, you power a home and one car, but just barely.

    BTW, I have a 3KW array combined 75% conservation in home electricity use, I break even. But no additional for powering an EV.
     
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  13. John I have a 5KW system and I is looking like it will cover my house and Leaf needs. Got Leaf in May and have 7,000 miles. My electric bill still has $219 credit for excess generation. I am on E-7 TOU so during 6 months of the year from noon to 6pm they pay me 3x the rate. So it is very easy for solar to cover both house and car. Your 10,000KWH/year sounds about right for me. With Fed and Cal credits Leaf cost less than 21K (24.3K with all fees)
     
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  14. I => it
     
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  15. Thanks for the feedback.
    With TOU metering it is more likely that people will break even finantially. However, that does not mean the KWH will break even at the end of the year.

    Certainly 5KW arrays (rather than the 3KW arrays that were common a few years ago) as well a sunnier place (I live in Boston) will help people achieve their PV aspirations.
     
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  16. I hope that Toyota makes this a plugin! There are vague indications that it might be -- a mention of ~15 mile EV range.

    I agree it is nowhere near as good looking as the concept, but these new images make it look better than the leaked brochure images.

    Neil
     
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  17. I wish someone would make a coupe hatchback in a hybrid, EV or Range extended EV.
     
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  18. @ Rich Civil: Isn't "a coupe hatchback" what the Smart for two is?
    Beyond that, @ George Parrot: "solar phtovoltaic" sounds like a great idea for cleanly powered electric cars. In my county, we have another idea for anyone using electric power for anything: our grid has 382.5 mega watts of installed wind energy. Being a very rural area, our local area doesn't even close to all that tnergy, and most of it is sold to more populous areas downstate. In fact one of the first stops for the long distance line carrying it out is a substation about a mile down the road I live on. The Tesla roadster now owned nearby, and any other electric cars owned here will very cleanly powered by our wind!
     
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  19. My idea of a coupe hatchback is along the lines of Honda's civic coupe.
     
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  20. Corrections to my contribution: “phtovoltaic” should be “photovoltaic”; “mega watts”should be megawatts; “tnergy” should be “energy”; “local area doesn’t even close to ...” should be “local area doesn’t even use close to ...”.
     
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