2012 Detroit Auto Show: 2013 Toyota Prius C priced below $19,000

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 10, 2012

Toyota Motor Corp. will start selling the subcompact Prius C hatchback in March, further expanding its hybrid vehicle lineup. Toyota claims that in city driving, the Prius C could achieve 53 mpg – the highest fuel economy rating being claimed by a vehicle that isn’t a plug-in. When driving in the highway, the Prius C could achieve a rating of 46 mpg.

Meanwhile, the Prius C is said to offer a combined rating of 50 mpg. The Prius C is based on the Yaris platform and has a price tag that’s lower than $19,000 (excluding destination charges). Its wheel is six inches shorter.

It is also shorter by 19 inches overall and its weight is around 550 pounds lower than the standard Prius. It has a similar hybrid operating system as the one used on the standard Prius.

The difference is that this gasoline engine has a smaller displacement at 1.5 liters when compared to 1.8 liters. The Prius C has a combined output of 99hp from its 73hp Atkinson cycle engine and the hybrid motors. When using just the battery, the Prius C may be driven for around one mile at speeds of up to 25 mph.

This car’s concept version seen at the Detroit show last year showed enthusiastic styling. However, the production Prius C appears to be a smaller relative of the current Prius. The standard equipment for the Prius C includes nine airbags, a set of 15-inch wheels, automatic climate control, tilt-telescopic steering wheel and remote keyless locks with illuminated entry.

The base audio system consists of CD players, hands-free phone capability, USB port with iPod connectivity, phone book access, and Bluetooth music streaming. Toyota is relying on the smaller, cheaper Prius C to attract young buyers that want their first car to have an impressive value and fuel economy.

Toyota Prius c's Hybrid Synergy Drive system relies on different components: the hybrid control computer, a gasoline engine, a nickel-metal hydride battery, an electric motor, a step-up converter, a DC-DC converter, and an inverter. The hybrid control computer manages the flawless switch between electric power and gasoline engine, based on the driving requirements and the chosen drive mode.

Prius c makes use of a SULEV rated 1.5-L four-cylinder engine that gives 82 lb.-ft. of torque and 73 horsepower of power, giving the hybrid system a combined output of 99 horsepower. The in-line gasoline engine uses an Atkinson cycle that gives it more efficiency.

The hybrid system you see on the Toyota Prius c also uses a 144-volt NiMH battery pack placed under the rear seats. This placement, as well as the low location in the chassis, helps enhance the c's center of gravity. With the Toyota Prius c, you get three distinct drive modes: EV, Eco, and Normal. The Eco mode gives you more fuel savings by controlling the throttle and climate control, while the EV mode allows you to use only electric power for less than a mile and for slower than 25 miles per hour.

Vehicle Structure

The Prius c's body structure uses light and strong steel to help lower the mass while also improving fuel efficiency.

Employing high-tensile-strength steel for strategic parts helps the car keep the occupants safe. The high torsional strength also makes way for better handling and ride comfort.

Steering and Suspension

Toyota Prius c uses Macpherson strut for the front suspension while the rear suspension has a tuned torsion beam. The shock absorber and coil spring have both been tuned to improve flat turning and handling as well as provide you with a comfortable ride.

Prius c buyers can choose from 15- and 16-inch wheel and tires. The 15-inch wheels come with wheel cover and are made of steel. But you can opt for the elevated trim where aluminum alloy is used. Meanwhile if you opt for the 16-inch wheels, this is made with aluminum alloy and has a better steering ratio while also guaranteeing a faster dynamic response.

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