One of the most affordable hybrid vehicles on the market just added another compelling reason to buy for 2017. The Toyota Prius c, the smallest of the brand’s eight hybrid models, now comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense C (TSS-C) driver-assist technologies on all model grades. The TSS-C system, which had been an option on two Prius c grades for 2016, includes Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Assist, and Automatic High Beams.
That’s big news, of course. But then, the compact Prius c has been a newsmaker since it joined the Toyota line. A redesigned front fascia, rear bumper, side rocker panels and blacked-out rear spoiler give the 2017 Prius c a big infusion of sporty attitude. All grades now also roll on standard alloy wheels.
Toyota Safety Sense-C is designed to help address three key areas of driver assistance: preventing or mitigating frontal collisions, helping maintain driving within their lane, and enhancing road safety during nighttime driving. Toyota plans to make automatic emergency braking standard on nearly all models by the end of 2017. That will put Toyota (and Lexus) four years ahead of the model-year 2022 industry target announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
One doesn’t need to live in a congested urban area to get why the “c” in Prius c stands for “city.” Yet, even out in the ‘burbs, one can appreciate the vehicle’s 158.7-inch length, which makes it a shoe-in for those “compact only” parking spaces located so conveniently near mall entrances.
Smart packaging also makes the Toyota Prius c highly maneuverable, thanks to optimal location of the compact gasoline engine, transaxle and power-control unit. Locating the hybrid battery and fuel tank beneath the rear seat puts their mass within the car’s wheelbase, a boon to weight distribution and handling agility. The body structure’s high torsional rigidity allows the suspension to be more optimally tuned for a smoother ride and more agile handling. The Prius c rides on standard 15-inch alloy wheels on all grades. A 16-inch aluminum alloy wheel option with P195/50R16 tires is available for the Prius c Four.
Toyota optimized the size and weight of its hybrid technology for the Prius c platform, but that doesn’t mean it left anything out. The system integrates a gasoline engine, an electric motor within a Continuously Variable Transaxle, a nickel-metal hydride battery, a power control unit (inverter), a DC-DC converter and a step-up converter. A hybrid control computer governs the seamless application of gasoline engine and electric power depending on driving demands and selected drive mode.
The Prius c’s SULEV (Tier 2 Bin 3)-rated 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine utilizes an Atkinson cycle to help increase efficiency. By itself, the engine produces 73 horsepower and 82 lb.-ft. of torque, contributing to a total hybrid system output of 99 hp. The hybrid system also yields excellent fuel efficiency with an EPA estimated MPG of 48 city/43 highway/46 combined.
Like today’s luxury and sport models, the Prius c offers different drive modes to affect performance response. Normal mode works for everyday driving. ECO reduces overall energy consumption by governing the climate control system and throttle operation to help enhance vehicle efficiency. Under certain conditions EV Mode allows the Prius c to be driven solely by electric power for under one mile while remaining below 25 mph. That’s useful when navigating one of those huge mall parking lots, for example.
The addition of the Toyota Safety Sense C system to all 2017 Prius c models is designed to help drivers avoid hazards on the road. But Toyota also built the Prius c to help protect passengers. Extensive use of lightweight, high-strength steel contributes to the vehicle’s ability to absorb and disperse impact energy, helping to enhance occupant safety.
The body covering that structure slips through the air with a low 0.28 coefficient of drag, the result of extensive aerodynamic features. The Prius c’s lower-body styling is wider below the beltline, featuring sculpted rear flares that express an athletic stance.
The 2017 Prius c is equipped with nine airbags and, features the standard Star Safety System™, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop technology.
The Toyota Safety Sense-C system standard in the 2017 Prius c combines a trio of driver assist technologies anchored by automatic emergency braking.
Pre-collision System (PCS), which operates at vehicle speeds of approximately seven to 85 mph, is designed to use a camera and laser beam to detect the vehicle ahead. If PCS determines there is a possibility of a collision, it uses audio and visual alerts to prompt the driver to take evasive action and brake. If the driver notices the hazard and applies the brakes, PCS may provide additional braking force using Brake Assist. If the driver does not brake in a set time, and PCS determines that the possibility of a frontal collision with another vehicle is extremely high, the system may automatically apply the brakes, helping reduce speed by approximately 19 mph in order to help the driver lessen the impact and in certain cases avoid a collision. The operational range of automatic braking covers speeds at which at least 80 percent of rear-end collisions occur (approximately seven – 50 mph).
Lane Departure Alert (LDA) is designed to use a camera to detect visible white and yellow lane markings in front of the vehicle and the vehicle’s position on the road. If LDA determines that the vehicle is starting to unintentionally deviate from its lane, the system alerts the driver with an audio and visual alert.
Automatic High Beam (AHB), using an in-vehicle camera to help detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and taillights of vehicles traveling ahead, automatically switches between high and low beams as appropriate.
The Prius c cabin looks as sporty as the exterior and of course delivers familiar Toyota value. The four model grades make it easy to choose the ideal Prius c for any budget or taste.
The Prius c One comes well equipped with standard color-keyed power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators; tilt/telescopic steering wheel with steering wheel controls; air conditioning; remote keyless entry system with illuminated entry; power windows and more. The standard 3.5-in. TFT Multi-Information Display provides the driver with outside temperature display, clock, fuel economy information, cruising range, odometer, trip distance, EV miles driven, Hybrid System Indicator, ECO Savings, ECO Score and energy monitor.
The Prius c One comes ready to play music any way the driver wants. The standard Entune® Audio system includes the Entune® Multimedia Bundle with a 6.1-in. touch-screen display; AM/FM CD player (with MP3/WMA playback capability); four speakers; auxiliary audio jack; USB 2.0 port with iPod® connectivity and control; advanced voice recognition and Bluetooth® for hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming. Apple iPhone® users can speak requests using Siri® Eyes Free.
Technology comes to the fore in the Prius c Three, which adds the Smart Key System on the front doors and liftgate; Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry; Touch Tracer Display and Entune® Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite. This comprehensive multimedia system includes everything from the standard setup and adds two more speakers (six total, plus the Entune® App Suite; HD radio; HD predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay; AM/FM cache radio; SiriusXM All Access Radio with three-month complimentary trial and Gracenote® album cover art.
For a taste of luxury, the Toyota Prius c Four adds LED fog lights on the outside and, on the inside, a power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade; integrated backup camera; SofTex®-trimmed seats, plus heated steering wheel, front seats, and outside mirrors.
With all that great tech and high fuel economy in the Prius c, it seems only logical that Best Buy’s Geek Squad will dispatch more than 1,000 of the vehicles – fully decked out as the new Geekmobile – nationwide. Prius c offers enough cargo space to shuttle just about anything a Geek Squad agent might need, whether optimizing a home theater system or improving Wi-Fi performance or installing a security solution.
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and against corrosion with no mileage limitation. The hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are covered for eight years/100,000 miles.