When Toyota launched the world’s first mass produced hybrid in Japan in 1997, it felt like a bit of a gamble for the huge Japanese auto maker. How would people react to a new kind of automobile? Would people understand what a hybrid was? Would anyone ever buy the thing?
Three million cars later, Toyota has its answer. The Prius family is, undoubtedly, the most popular hybrid car in the world and Toyota is seen as the leader in hybrid technology. That success has allowed them to expand the family, which now includes the standard Prius (now known as the Liftback), the Prius v station wagon and the new Prius Plug-In Hybrid. Now, Toyota has introduced the newest member of the family to American audiences at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
If Toyota was facing a risky proposition upon the release of the original Prius, fifteen years later this new Prius is as close to a slam dunk as anything on the Detroit show floor. America is the largest market for the Prius line and the smaller, gas-sipping, less expensive Prius c is sure to find a welcome reception on these shores.
Toyota doesn’t call the Prius cheap, of course, they prefer to call the c a “gateway product into the Prius family.” But with a starting price starting below $19,000 you could put two Prius models in the garage for the price of many new hybrids hustling for some attention in Detroit.
Aside from the list price, the Prius also offers 53 mpg in the city, and 46 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 50 mpg. That’s an impressive number and comes from reductions in both size and weight for the new Toyota. The new c is 19.1 inches shorter and 542 pounds lighter than the standard Prius.