The 2014 Toyota Prius C is evidence of why that is no longer the case.
With a starting price of $19,890 (including a mandatory $810 delivery charge), Toyota's hybrid subcompact is relatively affordable, yet offers combined economy of 50 mpg.
It's also capable of 53 mpg city and 46 mpg highway, according to official EPA ratings, making it one of the most efficient cars on sale without a plug.
The Prius C gets its power from a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine, similar to that used in the previous-generation Prius.
It's no ball of fire, but with 99 horsepower it's got enough urge for the shorter-distance, lower speed duties for which many will be used, and the ability to turn its engine off at lower speeds and operate on electric power alone certainly aids city economy.
We've written about the Prius C on several occasions, and you'll find those stories listed below under several categories--driving, buying, general news and information, and auto show reports.
And if you're looking to buy your first hybrid vehicle, why not read our guide on what to expect in your transition to a hybrid car--and see whether a hybrid could be right for you.
Driving the Prius C
So does the Toyota Prius C drive like a hybridized Yaris, or a miniaturized Prius?
A little of both, actually, but for detailed impressions you can read the first drive report below. For comparison, we've also had a drive in the Toyota Yaris Hybrid sold in Europe--and it's interesting to note the similarities and differences.
Buying the Prius C
Despite its small stature, the Prius C isn't actually the cheapest hybrid on sale. That honor falls to the Honda Insight, though Honda's compact hybrid isn't long for this world, so Toyota's offering will soon be the sole budget hybrid choice.
Buyers will see greater efficiency from the Prius C too, and you can read our popular comparison of the Honda Insight and Prius C models by clicking on the link. For further buying details, click through some of the stories below.