Inhabitat recently had the chance to try one of the first next-gen line of Priuses, which now range from the likes of our tiny test subject, the Prius c, to the large people-mover Prius v. So, what is a Prius c? It’s basically a tiny hatchback Prius stripped down, but still functional with a slightly nicer interior than last year’s batch of releases (plug-in and non-plug-in versions). Recently, we took the Prius c for a little picnic in the country to see how it could handle both city and country roads. Check out our photo gallery for all the details, and hit the jump to hear more about our trip to the countryside in the city-est of city cars.
The first thing everyone wants to know about a Prius is its mileage. How did it do? Well, official estimates are 53 city and 46 highway. On our test it was easy to get 40 mpg with combined city and highway driving — impressive considering how focused the Prius line is on efficient city driving. Slowing down to city speeds quickly improves your mileage into the 40s. You’re giving up a lot of car to get these numbers, but the Prius c is light and agile.
It can be a bit of a small-car bumpy ride out there in the country, but the Prius c would handle rough roads much better in the winter than a Chevy Volt, since it has standard tires and road clearance like most other small cars (the Chevy Volt has the road clearance of a ZR1 Corvette and low rolling resistance tires to improve mileage, which translates to a slippery ride and an inability to travel through snow or deep mud).
If a small runaround is what you’re looking for, this Prius works quite well and makes the most of its compact space. The c starts at $18,950, so it’s quite affordable for a hybrid as well; that’s $5,000 cheaper than a standard 3rd-gen Prius, and a full $13,000 cheaper than the plug-in model. The Prius c is a pretty simple car, but we think it might be just the ticket to bringing hybrids to an affordable level in the mainstream.