Why Prius Buyers Choose C Over Liftback: Price, Ride, Normality

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2012 Toyota Prius C

2012 Toyota Prius C

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Toyota’s new 2012 Prius C subcompact launched earlier this year, but it is already winning itself fans among old and new hybrid car drivers alike. 

Around $5,000 cheaper than the 2012 Prius Liftback, it offers the same 50 mpg combined as its larger sibling, but why are some car buyers choosing it over the larger, more established model?

An interesting thread on Internet forum PriusChat asks that exact question -- and has unearthed some interesting answers. 

At the top of the list are three simple facts: The Prius C is cheaper, offers a better ride, and is far more conventional than the geekier liftback. 

2012 Toyota Prius C, drive event, La Jolla, CA, Feb 2012

2012 Toyota Prius C, drive event, La Jolla, CA, Feb 2012

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“Personally, I chose a Prius C over a [liftback] or Prius V mainly because of the cost of the vehicle,” wrote one forum member. “My kids are grown with their own vehicles and children... We don’t need the extra space.”

Many other posters agreed, saying it was the perfect car for families with adult children who had left home. 

After driving a relative's 2006 Prius, one poster said they didn’t like the ride or feel of the larger Prius, so opted for the smaller model. 

As we note in our official 2012 Toyota Prius C review, the smaller hybrid hatchback offers a nimble and maneuverable ride, something that many Prius C buyers cite as a big consideration when buying. 

“It’s hard to explain,” said one poster. “The [Prius] C feels more like our other cars in the handling department.” while another poster describes the liftback as being a little “floaty” in its driver feedback.

For other buyers however, the conventionality of the Prius C’s interior, gear selector and dashboard sealed the deal. 

2012 Toyota Prius C

2012 Toyota Prius C

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“The center console was another reason I didn’t like the liftback,” said one commenter. “The C has a center console that’s closer to the driver so it didn’t feel as weird.”

Other comments posted on the forum note that the Prius C’s conventional gear shift -- a traditional floor-mounted lever -- is easier to understand and use than the Prius Liftback’s infamous gear shifter. 

If these early-adopting Prius C buyers are indicative of other Prius C buyers, then it seems Toyota’s subcompact hybrid is proving popular with those who aren’t fond of the Prius Liftback and its space-age looks, drive or cost. 

But what about you? Have you purchased a Prius C lately? Why did you choose it over the larger liftback? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 


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Comments (16)
  1. Buy a Yaris then... Ride and Price are both better...

  2. I find it a bit humorous that the same thing that Consumer Reports knocked this vehicle for (stiff suspension/ride quality) is the exact reason why some people prefer the vehicle.

  3. I sometimes wonder what CR tested. Their reported mileage in the city was 37 whereas I am getting 53 plus overall. The ride is fine, and superior to the BMW I traded for the C. Plenty of room - just returned from Lowe's with five bags of mulch (and a trip reading of 67.9 mpg). This is a fine little run-a-bout. The price was right - my old car and the change I found under the seat cushion. What's not to like?

  4. Really, Bruce, the Prius C, which has been ripped in various other publications as well, not just CR, rides better than the BMW you just traded in? And exactly which BMW has a worse ride than the Prius C? I mean, I'm not aware of a BMW made in my lifetime that rides worse than a Prius of any flavor, but... Nothing against the C, either, as it's fine for some consumers, but claiming that the C rides better than any BMW just invites obvious disbelief.

    Again, which BMW rides worse than a Prius C again?

  5. M3.

    My boss owns one and constantly complains about ride harshness.

  6. Well, your boss obviously shouldn't own a M3...

  7. There's a HUGE difference between the alleged harshness of an M3 and any type of Prius. The M3 is a performance car designed for the racetrack, so the sport suspension, if you will, can strike anyone who's never been in a real performance car, as harsh. The difference is, people intentionally pay $60k-$65k for exactly that "harshness."

    I can't comment on the ride of the C, but the overall ride of any BMW being worse than a Yaris-based econobox...? Still strains credulity, in my opinion...

    Unlike Xiaolong, though, more of any Prius is a good thing. Not meant to be sporty or stylish, but great as basic transportation and removing emissions and fuel usage. They're not meant for everybody... that doesn't make them bad, either.

  8. How will this Prius C perform in the new IIHS crash test is a big question mark... All the Lexus IS series that used do well are all rated "poor" in the new test...

  9. I suppose the next question is why choose the lift-back over the C?

  10. Answers:

    More powerful motor, quicker acceleration, more space for front n back seat drivers, and better reliability(no first year model..even a Prius deriviative does well). However, the Prius C is a good little car that is obviously selling well. I expect Toyota to sell even more when the get few kinks out of it in 2014 n have a solid reliability history.

    More Prii the better...now where is my two seater hatch Prius with even better mpg in the 60s or more? It can be weak just give me/us the better mpg!

  11. Take the rear seats out and it will save you few pounds... :)

  12. More agile? Yes! Better ride? You got to be kidding!

  13. When I was shopping for a new Matrix to replace my '08 model I spotted the Prius C in the showroom. The price surprised me at first, then after a test drive and comparison of features/cost I was sold. I drive a lot on my job and after 6 months I've averaged a little over 55 mpg overall. Mileage reimbursement actually pays for the car! Sporty looking (for a Prius), more than adequate cargo space, fun to drive, very well equipped... I'd recommend the C without reservation. I'll have to take all Consumer Reports auto reviews with a large grain of salt from now on.

  14. Can't comment on the Prius per se, but Consumer Reports is a joke sometimes. It's been several years, but I remember them ranking a Camaro very poorly, while ranking the exact same car in the Buick division as excellent! Same drive train, engine, frame, electronics...just different styling.

  15. @Carl Actually, Buick never made a car on the Camaro platform. Perhaps you're thinking of the Pontiac Firebird?

  16. http://priuschat.com/threads/why-did-you-choose-a-c-over-a-liftback.111017/

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