2012 Toyota Prius C: Yes, Your Gas Mileage Will Vary

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2012 Toyota Prius C

2012 Toyota Prius C

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Whenever a new car hits the market, there’s always a website somewhere on the Internet keeping track of how real-world gas mileage differs from the EPA’s official quotes. 

So it’s no surprise that owners of the 2012 Toyota Prius C have started to keep track of the gas mileage of their car on websites like PriusChat.

One post, What Is Your Lowest M.P.G?, caught our attention, as it highlighted one simple fact we sometimes forget. 

Even in a hybrid car, your gas mileage will vary. 

Under 50, over 50

In ultra-controlled EPA gas mileage tests, the 2012 Toyota Prius C is rated with a city gas mileage of 53 mpg, and a highway gas mileage of 46 mpg, resulting in a combined gas mileage of 50 mpg. 

2012 Toyota Prius c ECO Score Display

2012 Toyota Prius c ECO Score Display

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We’ve encountered people who have achieved much higher gas mileage figures, but as some Prius Chat participants have discovered, the opposite is also possible. 

One poster describes a short, 5 minute trip up the road resulting in a gas mileage of just 31 mpg, while another jokes about a mad dash to the local hospital resulting in a fuel economy of 36 mpg. 

As another points out, the faster you go, the worse the fuel economy, citing just 22 mpg while traveling at 100 mph in a Prius liftback. 

Urban lover

Although it will work as a long-distance car, cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius C are designed to be urban cars. 

With an engine tweaked for efficiency rather than power, the 2012 Toyota Prius C’s engine will be less efficient traveling at 70 mph on a freeway for extended periods of time than it will be driving around town at an average speed of 35-50 mph. 

In fact, at speeds above 60 mph, the engine in the Prius C does most of the work to push the car along, while at lower speeds it works in tandem with the electric motors to produce the most efficient power blend. 

All the usual suspects

2012 Toyota Prius C

2012 Toyota Prius C

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Just like other cars too, the gas mileage of hybrid cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius C will be influenced by the same issues that non hybrid cars have. 

These include poorly inflated tires, poor maintenance, bad weather, a tired driver, an overloaded car, and of course, running the air conditioning. 

It’s worth remembering too, that in cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius C, running the air conditioning will still have an effect on energy efficiency, even though it is powered by the car’s traction battery pack. 

Sit in traffic long enough with the AC running, and the Prius’ traction battery pack will become drained, causing its gasoline engine to kick in and your gas mileage to drop. 

Tips for better Prius C gas mileage

As we’ve said before, the best way to get good gas mileage out of a Prius is to accelerate smartly away from a stop light if you’re NOT in electric mode, so one motor can recharge the battery from the gasoline engine while the other contributes torque to accelerate the car along.  Coast, then repeat. 

This is different from single-motor hybrid cars, where power cannot be generated and used at the same time. 

Secondly, ensure that you’ve followed our handy tips on getting better gas mileage, and make sure you know which commonly-believed gas mileage tips are myths.

Thirdly, remember that gas mileage will and does vary from day to day. Instead of obsessing about a particular trip’s efficiency, examine your gas mileage every week or month instead of every trip or day. 

You might find it isn’t as bad as you first thought.

And remember. Your. Mileage. Will. Vary.

Do you have any Prius gas mileage tips? Leave them in the Comments below.


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Comments (18)
  1. According to Fuel.ly, Prius C is getting 52.2 mpg with 172 vehicles reporting data. Of course, that probably does not include winter driving yet. All I can say is, Well Done Toyota.

  2. Dan Gray from MPGomatic did a review on one last week. He managed to get some pretty impressive mpgs. http://www.mpgomatic.com/2012/07/05/2012-toyota-prius-c-review/

  3. In my personal experience, Prius II was only giving me 38mpg...

    If you drive it slower, you will get better mpg. That is what many Prii drivers do...

  4. In my personal experience, the Prius 2 gets 50 mpg. Oh, and the EPA's experience, and the experience of people on Fuel.ly and just about everyone except for Top Gear.

  5. When my girlfriend drives my Prius C, she drives without any care about what kind of mpg's she is getting, and still manages around 45-50mpg. What kind of mileage do you get out of your Volt when the gas engine kicks in?

  6. Well, I only have 3 trips so far with gas engine kicked on. For those 3 trips, the MPG are 42.4 mpg, 34.1 mpg and 36.2mpg. But those are very "short" gas trips. The rest 1128 miles are all electric. So far, I have used only 4 Gallon of gas.

  7. The superior news is that the Toyota Prius C in point of fact is competent of speed up to 70 mph climbing. We were not convinced it had be talented to. But there is one bad thing about this. Can you help me to find Car Dealer license for this car?

  8. As with any car, speed kills mpg and the c is no exception. Despite its city label, the car is quite capable on the highway and still provides over 50mpg if driven smartly or below 70mph. When driven at 60mph on the highway/freeway I can pull off 60mpg tanks in my GenIII (65mpg indicated). The c is only rated 2mpg less on the highway so what do think it could do if driven smartly? ;)

  9. I understand that the focus of your article is on low mileage, but as another commenter noted, the average of (now) 175 Prius Cs on Fuelly is 52.2 mpg, and obviously about half of them are getting better than this. In fact, there are 14 cars reporting better than 60 mpg average, about 11% of the listed vehicles.

    While it's possible to get poor mileage in a Prius C, this is normally due to cold starts, short trips, or sustained high speed, which will kill the efficiency of any car, hybrid or otherwise. And the PriusChat thread asked drivers to report only their exceptionally low mileage trips; most of these owners will be getting far better results in normal driving.

  10. People who get low gas mileage with their Prius typically have 1)A very short commute (5 min or less) or lots of short trips/stop and go trips. 2)Live in cold or hilly areas (or both!). 3) Have inefficient driving habits (always accelerating or braking, never coasting, drive at VERY fast highway speeds.

    You can increase your highway mileage most easily by slowing down, and this is true for any car. The Prius will excel in "slow and go" traffic so long as you leave a big gap in front of you. It allows you to do an "accordian" effect, where you let a gap form, accelerate to close the gap (Pulse), coast to decrease the closing rate until you are going slower than the car in front of you (Glide) until your gap grows. Repeat = Great MPG's

  11. You can still get respectable MPG driving fast in the Prius. One just has to master the "glide" part of the pulse-and-glide.

    After quickly accelerating to speed, one can back off on the throttle juuuust a little bit to find the "sweet spot", where the engine is burning minimal fuel, but not backed off so much that the simulated-drag regenerative braking kicks in. After a minute in the gliding "sweet spot," the speed will decay some, so one has to repeat this "pulse-and-glide" cycle again.

    My daily drive is a high-speed reverse-commute from NYC up to Connecticut on I-95. On average I'm doing 65-70mph using this pulse-and-glide technique, and still getting no less than 45mpg.

  12. Has it needed repairs or do you find it's been reliable and low maintenance? How does it fair in the winter and on drives up the mountains? Does it have enough power to go for a mountain drive? Thanks.

  13. Ann, I have an 04 Gen 2 Prius thats never been touched by a mechanic short of oil and filter changes. I drive it fast and aggressively and I drive it sensibly and economically summer and winter.It sits outside year round and is sometime left for three months unused in the winter.It still has its original 12 volt battery which has gone flat three times through these periods of non use but never fails after an initial 12 hr charge.Most reliable car I have ever owned and still a pleasure to drive with mpg returns in the mid fifties.It has plenty of power, Highly recommended.

  14. Thanks Don, I'm seriously considering purchasing. My only hesitation is that I live in the Rocky Mountain region and will have to drive it in slick conditions. I noticed you said it sits for 3 months in the winter. Have you driven it in the winter at all. I don't want to be afraid in the winter time. Have you taken it on vacations? If so, is it comfortable on long trips? Thanks so much!

  15. Hi Ann,

    My '07 Prius is the lowest-maintenance car I have ever owned. I got 55,000 miles on it so far, and it had only needed oil / filter changes every 5000 miles, and one transaxle fluid drain-and-refill and a new set of tires at 40K miles thus far. That's it.

    I've never needed a brake job on the Prius yet. The original set of brake pads on my Prius will last well past 150,000 miles because the car uses electric regenerative braking most of the time.

    I can't tell you how it will handle in really harsh winters or on real mountains because the only winter experience I have with the car are in the NYC area (no problems), ditto mountains here are not exactly the Rockies. But in my experience the Prius has treated me very well.

  16. Our simplification of vehicle fuel efficiency to a single number is absurd if as a society we insist on quibbling. Many factors affect efficiency, and much of the complaints you wrote about above are people discovering these factors and being surprised by them! (Aggressive acceleration burns fuel, driving at 100 mph burns more fuel, driving only short distances with a cold engine burns fuel, etc.) These stories are not new and are uninteresting.

    Vehicle manufacturers should publish more in depth fuel efficiency models based on PA, Temperature, Speed, vehicle weight. No one should be surprised that a single EPA number is not correct for all possibilities.

  17. Toyota's Prius Family primary design goal is near-zero emissions with high MPG as a secondary design goal. Regardless of how long your run your Prius it will be one of the cleanest vehicles - this can't be said for most other vehicles. Hybrid technology can get high fuel efficiency in both city and highway but only if it is driven a certain way - often this requires a driver learning additional driving skills. Over +2years/25,000 miles - I've been able to get 60 mpg on my 2010 Toyota Prius III Hatchback (see my mileage log under "Hyperdrive 1" in cleanmpg.com) Like any vehicle my Prius' mileage has varied from 44mpg to 70mpg per tank depending on driving conditions. The key advantage of hybrids is they all have stop-start idle technology.

  18. My 1985 Honda CR got 55 mpg - a 4 cylinder hatchback - not a hybrid- and it wasn't a hybrid. Small, yes, but I could still pile 7 adults when the ride was needed. For automakers to tout 30 or 35 mpg as some kind of great achievement is ridiculous. I have a Prius hybrid - getting 50+ mpg most of the time - but they could have done better actually. They should make all cars 75 mpg - very doable, if they weren't bought and paid for by the greedy oil companies who control EVERYTHING, let's face it.

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