Review and photos by Steven Bochenek

Toyota has done an excellent job of zeroing in on the target market with the Prius c — most especially this tester, the Technology model. If you’re a young, electronically connected, enviro-conscious urban dweller — or any subset of these — put this on your list of possible purchases.

If you’re a gearhead, this may not be your cup of fair trade chai tea.

2013 Toyota Prius c Technology2013 Toyota Prius c Technology2013 Toyota Prius c Technology
2013 Toyota Prius c Technology. Click image to enlarge

With a whopping peak 99 ponies the Prius c won’t be coming to many multi-muscle-car-decorated suburban driveways anytime soon — but back in the city, it’s finding a home.

April’s here and construction is about to replace the snow banks strangling your escape routes. At just 3,995 mm long and 1,695 wide, the Prius c is the smallest offering in the Prius line. Such a diminutive package can sneak you out of many city traffic problems and into some of the tightest city parking spots.

Its turning radius is just 4.8 m. So Queen Street hipsters can do environmentally conscious donuts while enjoying a vegan donut from Glory Hole.

Moreover, with a curb weight of just 1,132 kg, it’s light enough to keep you away from the gas pump even if you’re blessed with a heavy right foot.

The hybrid technology is worth discussing (if not racing), especially considering how affordable Toyota has managed to make it, urged on by some increasingly price-conscious competition.

The basic Prius c starts at just $20,400 and this “Technology” trimmed test car totalled $25,115.20 all-in with taxes and bling. That’s not much for a hybrid. Indeed, with the Honda Insight starting at $21,990 and the significantly larger Ford C-Max starting at $27,199, hybrid logos have become a much more affordable status symbol.

2013 Toyota Prius c Technology
2013 Toyota Prius c Technology
2013 Toyota Prius c Technology. Click image to enlarge

The Prius c is powered by a hybrid synergy drive system that uses a 1.5L 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gas engine with sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection, integrated with an electric motor and HV battery to generate 99 net hp. It all works seamlessly together with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Really. Unlike earlier generations of hybrids, you have to pay close to attention to even notice the shift from electric power to gasoline.

That dearth of power isn’t completely hopeless. Electric motors can deliver maximum torque almost immediately, so accelerating isn’t as turtlesque as this review may imply.

Fuel efficiency is where the Prius c and its power sources really shine though. Its published claims are good enough to make you choke on your granola: 3.5L/100km in the city, 4.0 on highway and 3.7 combined. I was typically in the high fives, though, which is still quite good. It was a late winter week when I tested it, so extra energy was required to heat the Prius c and my Birkenstocks were heavy with hemp insulation. Moreover, it was riding on winter tires (15-inch Pirellis), which typically depress fuel efficiency.

Nonetheless, still nursing the first tank of gas at the end of the week, the computer estimated my cruising range at 80 km. I had traveled 513 km and it cost me just $40.18 to re-fill the 36-litre tank with regular gasoline. (Yes, that’s poor for careful hyper-milers but good for me, and a better lesson in environmentalism: Bein’ green is as much about making the most of any car’s life and driving slowly, as buying the latest world-saver.)

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