Long Term Test Wrap Up: 2012 Toyota Prius C toyota car test drives reviews long term auto tests hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Toyota Prius C. Click image to enlarge

Long-Term Test Update 2: 2012 Toyota Prius C

Manufacturer’s web site
Toyota Canada

By Chris Chase
Photos by Chris Chase and James Bergeron

Photo Gallery:
2012 Toyota Prius C

Since our last update, the long-term Prius C has returned to its home with Toyota Canada, but we have a few more impressions to touch on before we wrap up this series.

After weeks of driving with the car set in “eco” mode, to take advantage of its gentle throttle response and maximize fuel efficiency, I decided to spend my last week or so using “normal” drive mode, with its more aggressive throttle map. I also turned off the eco-score display that I’d been relying on almost obsessively to squeeze as much distance as I could out of a tank of gas.

Prior to my economy-180, I’d managed fuel consumption as low as 3.3 L/100 km on a single city driving trip, with my best tank average being 4.3 L/100 km. When I gave the car back to Toyota, after a week of less careful driving, that tank average had climbed to 4.9 L/100 km and I was seeing single-trip averages anywhere between 4.5 and 7 (!) L/100 km.

Long Term Test Wrap Up: 2012 Toyota Prius C toyota car test drives reviews long term auto tests hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Toyota Prius C. Click image to enlarge

It’s also worth noting that, as is the case with most hybrids, the Prius C shines in city driving. that’s where I squeezed the best economy out of this car, whereas my observed average fuel consumption in highway driving was always close to 5.0 L/100 km. Hilly roads proved particularly taxing, forcing the little gas engine to go nearly flat-out to crest steeper hills and reach the easy ride back down.

The point of all this is to say that while most hybrids are good at saving fuel by design, the biggest economic rewards will go to a careful driver who tailors his or her style to take advantage of the car’s capabilities. In the Prius’ case, those include being able to run on electricity alone at low speeds and in light acceleration, and using the hybrid system’s regenerative braking capability by thinking ahead and slowing down more gradually than you might in a non-hybrid.

It’s a driving style that’s lost on many drivers, partly due to impatience, but also because it’s not what most people consider fun. The thing is, most driving techniques that you might employ to maximize hybrid economy will work in any vehicle.

Hybrid drive system aside, the Prius C certainly appealed to my small car sensibilities. It was a cinch to drive in city traffic, save for its wide turning circle, which I never got used to. Every time I pulled a u-turn or three-point turn in another vehicle, I or my wife would immediately comment “that wouldn’t have worked in the Prius.” Even the relatively massive Infiniti JX crossover, which I drove near the end of the Prius C’s stay with us, could turn a tighter circle (relative to its size).

Connect with Autos.ca