Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius c

?Toyota Prius c brings Hybrid Synergy Drive to subcompact market?

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Since the first generation Prius made its appearance just over fourteen years ago, more than two million Prius vehicles have been sold globally,986 percent of which are still on the road, and Toyota has continued to evolve the iconic hybrid by introducing significant new model variants, while ever improving and enhancing existing models.

Enter the Prius c Hybrid for 2012 – a four door sub-compact? Front-wheel drive hybrid hatch that will fill the bill as an entry level or gateway hybrid in Toyota?s fuel efficient stable of vehicles, and which serves to complete the Prius family of four hybrid vehicles. The ?c? designation stands for ?city?. It is set to go on sale at a price point starting at $18,950. and will weigh 542 pounds less than the current Prius Liftback, tipping the scale at 2,496 pounds. It is not only lighter, but smaller dimensionally as well. While adapting the Hybrid Synergy Drive to fit the diminutive Prius c platform, which is based basically on the Toyota Yaris, each of the system?s major components were redesigned and re-engineered to effectively reduce weight and scale, and to improve efficiency. Prius c is 19.1-inches shorter than the Prius hatch.

The 2012 Prius c promises to deliver the highest rated city fuel economy of any vehicle currently on the market without an electrical plug. It is a subcompact hybrid vehicle that also delivers an impressive level of available convenience oriented, high-tech electronic features such as: a standard 3.5-inch full color TFT multi-information display; hands-free phone capability, USB port with i[Pod connectivity as well as available Display Audio system with Navigation and Entune?, Toyota?s Multimedia infotainment connectivity system.

Despite its subcompact dimensions, the effective packaging strategy has strategically positioned key drivetrain componentry within the chassis, while focusing on optimizing usable interior space along with maximizing handling characteristics. The gasoline engine, transaxle and power control unit were positioned in the vehicle to enhance weight distribution and to lower the center of gravity. The fuel tank and 144-volt nickel-metal hybrid battery pack, which weighs 68 pounds and consists of 120 cells, are placed together beneath the rear seat., resulting in the Prius c being able to provide 104 cu. ft. of interior volume (87.4 cu.ft. passenger volume along with 17.1 cu.ft. of cargo space).

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The 2012 Prius c? will be available in four levels of trim or grades that provide consumers with desirable features, equipment and enhanced capability in varying value packaging to satisfy personal requirements, while meeting individual budget scenarios. Grade levels include: Prius c One; Prius c Two; Prius c Three; and the top of the line Prius c Four. The? c One comes with a solid, folding seat back, while the remaining three grades provide a 60?40 split folding seat back.

Visually, the entire Prius c ?lineup displays a sleek, youthful and sporty image, with its aerodynamic form, athletic, low, wide stance and smaller overall footprint than its siblings. Wheel-wells are pronounced, with the front and rear wells connected by a gently rising character line. The rear is finished off by tall, bold taillamp units, an integrated roof spoiler and smooth, wide rear fascia. The interior tends to match the flowing lines of the exterior, featuring user-friendly control placement.

Standard equipment will include such features as: automatic climate control; tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-information Display and Bluetooth? hand-free controls, as well as remote keyless entry with illuminated entry. There?s lots more, but space here is limited. The only stand-alone options are a sunroof that is available on grades Three and Four and the 16-inch alloy wheels and tires.

During the national press launch, journalists were afforded the opportunity to test drive preproduction Prius c ?vehicles in varying grade levels. My driving partner started our test exercise in a very base grade Prius c One that sported an Absolutely Red (yes, that?s really the color name) exterior and that featured a gray cloth interior with Charcoal trim elements., and riding on 15-inch wheels and tires. The MSRP was set at $18,950, which with the Destination and Handling charge elevated the total to $19,710. We later tested a Prius c Four finished in the same shade of Red, but with partial leather seating surfaces and an optional sunroof, riding on 16-inch wheels and tires.

The Toyota Prius c showcases an impressive array of standard safety equipment and features, as part of in their Star Safety System?, which include: Vehicle Stability Ciontrol; Traction Control, ABS, EBD, BA and Smart Stop Technology, not to mention 9 airbags.

The Hybrid Synergy Drive system is made up of the following components: the gas engine, an electric motor within a CVT, a NiMh battery pack, a Power Control?unit or inverter, a DC-Dc converter and a Hybrid control computer. There are no?belt drives within the system for greater operational efficiency, and the Prius c is capable of operating at a speed of up to 25 mph in a purely electric mode for a distance of roughly one mile. There are actually three operational modes: a Normal operating mode, Eco mode and EV (electric) mode.

SUMMARY: ?Whether or not the new 2012 Prius c will appeal to its primary target market of early 20?s young adults remains to be seen, but bottom line, it is sure to have a strong appeal to those individual consumers who desire to own an affordable entry level hybrid vehicle that?s loaded with state-of-the-art technology and convenience features and equipment.

As usual, driving a Toyota Prius Hybrid model is much like piloting a conventional non-hybrid vehicle, except for the engine Stop/Start? feature and regenerative braking, along with Eco and EV modes which extend range.

The new Prius c lineup represents a more affordable way to get into ownership of a proven hybrid vehicle. It is actually fun to drive, despite the fact that the smaller gasoline engine has to work harder on steep uphill runs. The grades that are equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels and tires deliver more solid handling character characteristics than those grades with 15-inch donuts. The grades equipped? with16-inch rolling stock also enjoy a more precise steering feel and suspension enhancements for a really noticeable plus in sporty feedback.

The interior is well done and actually provides a roomy, comfortable cabin. Rear seat pace is limited for anyone well over 6 feet tall, but is idea for young children. Accommodations are surprisingly ample given the exterior dimensions. The Prius c lineup should prove to be another homerun for Toyota Prius Hybrid family.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Toyota Prius c? Grade One Hybrid – 2012

Base Price:?????????????? ??????????? $18,950. Grade One / Grade 4= $23,230.

Price as Tested: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? $19,710. Grade One / Grade 4= $24,790.

 

Engine Type and Size:??????????? 1NZ-FXE1.5-liter inline four-cylinder Atkinson cycle with VVT-i.

Horsepower (bhp): ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 73??????????? @ 4,800??????????? rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.):??????????? ??????????? 82??????????? @ 4,000??????????? rpm

Electric motor output:??????????? 60 hp (45kW)

Total system output: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 99 hp (74 kW)

Transmission:??????????? ??????????? Continuously Variable Transaxle. (CVT).

Drive Train: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Transversely mounted front gasoline engine and electric motor / Front-Wheel Drive.

Suspension:??????????? ??????????? ?Front ? MacPherson Strut with coil springs and shock absorbers.

??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Rear ? Tuned Torsion beam with coil springs and ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? tower shock struts.

Brakes: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Power-assisted front vented discs / rear drum with ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ABS, EBD, BA, TPMS and Smart Stop with regenerative ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? braking.

Tires: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Low rolling resistance all-season Bridgestone Turanza ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? P175/65 R15 mounted on 8-spoke composite covers over steel wheels. Optional 16-inch 8-spoke alloy ?wheels shod with 195/50 R16 tires.

Wheelbase: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 100.4??????????? inches

Length Overall:??????????? ??????????? 157.3??????????? inches

Width: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?66.7??????????? inches

Height: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?56.9??????????? inches

Curb Weight: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 2,496??????????? lbs.

Fuel Capacity:??????????? ??????????? ??? 9.5??????????? gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates: ? ? ? ? ?53??????????? mpg city / 46??????????? mpg highway ? combined=50 mpg. / 95 MPGe

Drag Coefficient:??????????? ??????????? 0.28

0 – 60 mph: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 11.5??????????? seconds. Top speed=105 mph.

 

 

 

 


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