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Aaron Gold

52 MPG in a Prius c!

By August 20, 2013

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Toyota Prius cSo after bombing around in the new Corvette -- review coming tomorrow, btw -- I came home to spend a week with a 2013 Toyota Prius c, one of the smallest and least-expensive hybrids you can buy. (I actually drove the cheapest version, priced at $19,890.)

You kow from the headline how I did on fuel economy; my actual average was slightly better at 52.3 MPG. Understand that I was trying as hard as I could: I drove with "Eco" mode engaged, I accelerated and braked gently, and I cruised at or around the speed limit. (Still, there's no getting around the steep hills or the stop-and-go traffic that plagues us in Los Angeles.) How much of an effect did my efforts have? I'm going to take an educated guess and say that had I driven like I normally do, I would have averaged 48 to 49 MPG. Which is still good. No, not good... it's insane.

Driving the Prius c also reminded me how much I love small, inexpensive cars. The Prius c conveys a sense of minimalism that I really like -- it's back-to-basics motoring, which dovetails nicely with the car's fuel-sipping ways. The cabin was just big enough for me and Robin (and the kids in a pinch), and the trunk was the perfect size for groceries or a small suitcase. (The ironic thing being that the c's small shape doesn't allow for the best possible aerodynamics, which is why the bigger Prius gets better highway fuel economy.)

Admitting one is a fan of any Prius doesn't earn one much credibility in my line of work, but the truth is that I've enjoyed every Prius I've ever driven. Spending a week with the Prius c left me with a sense of utter satisfaction -- something I don't encounter very often. And scoring 50+ MPG ain't bad either. -- Aaron Gold

Read my full Toyota Prius c review

Photo Toyota

August 20, 2013 at 8:03 am
(1) Eric says:

Just can’t bring myself to own a Prius. I’m sure this is a great little City Car, but, this car along with the Honda Fit and several others simply look like transportation pods to me, which I will not own. Ever. Also, I’d much rather drive either a clean diesel, or a really efficient ICE car. I drive a hybrid at work, and I just can’t get used to starting the thing and never being quite sure if it’s running or not. I like to hear the sound of the engine running.

August 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm
(2) jeff says:

I might think about purchasing a car like this when someone decides to build one that has some style without costing 100k to purchase. Until then, no chance.

August 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm
(3) Hawaiian Don says:

Coming from a staunch VW Golf guy like me, saying that I am negotiating on a Prius C would be heresy to my friends and Aaron, of course. But here in the land of $5.50-$6.00 gasoline…well, suffice it to say that the Prius C looks extremely endearing. If my Prius C (2) deal falls through, plan B will be the Fiat 500 Pop. 15mpg less, but 4k less up front. However, we will still keep the wife’s 2012 Golf.
I just can’t go completely cold turkey!

August 21, 2013 at 1:22 am
(4) Brian in AZ says:

Ditto Jeff’s comment. Plus, my driving is minimal and local now, so MPG is not a top priority. Several stylish, affordable vehicles with decent MPG are available. Maybe not 52 MPG but low to mid 30s is doable. Thanks for the review Aaron.

August 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm
(5) Jim says:

It’s very misleading to use MPG as a baseline comparison. How much does the electricity cost to charge the Prius?

A true comparison would be “miles per dollar” with the cost of electricity included.

August 23, 2013 at 1:48 am
(6) DFI says:

In my experience the MPG rating on the sticker is too subjective and misleading with these smaller engine cars. The numbers are skewed based on perfect world driving conditions. As a former Infiniti G owner I was used to poor gas milage with a rating of 17/24. In the real world I averaged 19.8. Working from home with 90% of my driving I would make short 3-5 mile trips around town and the occasional 150 mile freeway round trip for a customer visit.
I downgraded to a Hyundai Elantra with the claimed 29/40 with the expectation of averaging maybe 31 or 32 knowing my driving habits. Actual average has been more like 22. This most recent tank… 18.9! I don’t gun it at stop lights, I don’t floor it at the onramp, I keep with the flow of traffic (which in LA is usually around 75). I even reset the counter after getting on the freeway and getting up to speed, then went for a 70 mile trip with no traffic and only pegged 35. So in extreme conditions with paying very close attention I could not achieve the magic 40 claimed by Hyundai.
Add to that my wife’s recent purchase of a Prius V which is rated at 44/40. After two weeks and using the ECO button half the time, which is like strapping an anvil on the back of the snail it already is, she’s only averaged 36. So what gives? Are these MPG numbers set on a perfectly flat straight-line track in the middle of Kansas completely isolated from all other cars while being driven remotely so as not to have any passenger weight to impact the numbers?
I challenge your Prius C findings. Send it my way and I’ll bet after a week with me it will barely do 40!

August 23, 2013 at 10:30 am
(7) Brian in AZ says:

Clearly the real-world MPG is always lower but some claims ( some Fords and Hyundais are legend for their inflated MPG claims ) are particularly egregious. I assume manufacturer MPG submissions are checked but maybe not.

August 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm
(8) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

DFI: Well, my wife Robin single-handedly dropped the fuel economy average by 1 MPG in a single drive, so… there’s that.


August 25, 2013 at 12:57 am
(9) Hawaiian Don says:

Jim, it isn’t misleading to use MPG. The Prius C is a Hybrid, not a plug-in. It recharges itself from the energy created when applying the brakes. That is why the city mpg’s are higher than highway…more frequent braking.

March 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm
(10) Rod says:

I own a 2013 C. I am getting an average (first 1000 miles) of about 42. But the mileage is getting better. Yesterday my 12.7 mile stop n go commute got me 51.4. I suspect it probably gets more efficient as the engine breaks in and becomes more efficient. This thing is an engineering marvel, especially at the price.

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