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May 25, 2014

Toyota Prius C makes fuel economy cool

When thinking about the Toyota Prius C, your first impulse is to approach the little car as an extension of Toyota’s line of gasoline-sipping automobiles. You know, another Prius, the popular hybrid car that adds an electric motor to a conventional gasoline engine and therefore uses less gasoline – much less gasoline – because the side-by-side electric motor provides a lot of the car’s propulsion.

In the case of the Prius C, official government fuel economy estimates say that a single gallon of gasoline will take you 53 miles during low-speed, intersection-filled, stop-and-go city driving. On the steady rolling highway, you’ll average 46 mpg, according to Washington’s Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.

Of course, individual experiences may vary. For example, through one full week of mixed driving, I averaged 55 miles per gallon in a Prius C, beating the government estimates.

But honestly, all this talk about fuel economy is beside the point. Or almost, at least. Yes, the Prius C is a fantastic car if your goal is to drive as far as you can on a single gallon of gasoline. But in my view, the Prius C is a fantastic car in its own right. It is sprightly and youthful. It is sassy. It is agile. It is playful and energetic. The Prius C makes driving fun. It makes you smile.

I certainly smiled a lot last week when I drove the nifty little pacer through a seven-day evaluation run. I liked its spunk and its quick-pivot road manners. I enjoyed its easy maneuverability. I appreciated the four-door hatchback’s useful and practical size. The Prius C is a small car with an open cabin that seems airy for the model’s tidy dimensions. Its wide-opening hatch in back makes it a more effective cargo hauler.

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