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Toyota Prius c

2013 Toyota Prius c

Courtesy of Toyota

The Toyota Prius is no longer a wedgy, angular, smug, small hatchback. It's a whole family of 'em.

So yeah, the Prius nameplate is now being treated as a brand rather than a model, and yeah, maybe that part is old news. But the 2013 Prius c is new. The range expansion is designed to increase the brand's appeal, it comes in at a lower price point and smaller size (about a foot and a half shorter) than the flagship original Prius, and it's designed to bring younger buyers into the fold. Its styling is less polarizing than its older sibling, but it offers many of the same features. From what Toyota calls "the most value-oriented hybrid in the U.S. market" buyers get Japanese reliability combined with European-oriented design, as well as more than a decade of hard-earned hybrid design and engineering expertise [source: Consumer Guide Automotive].

The Prius c's size allowed Toyota to design a pared-down drivetrain, though it retains Prius signature touches. The 1.8-liter 4-cylinder has been scaled down to a 1.5 (still good for 73-horsepower) and the smaller engine means it can be matched with a smaller battery pack. Like the original, it uses Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive to evaluate the driver's input and decide, on the fly, the best and most efficient combination of gasoline and battery power to use. Familiar aerodynamic styling, combined with ever-improving hybrid technology, enables the Prius c to achieve EPA ratings of 53 highway/46 city. Features like projector halogen headlamps, LED taillamps, high-tech console controls, advanced safety features and up-sized alloy wheel options, all spread across four different trim levels, mean the Prius c can boast its eco-cred without looking too nerdy or sparse.

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