GREEN CHOICE
GREEN CHOICE

Toyota Prius C

As Toyota's least-expensive hybrid, the Prius C seems like a great idea. Similar to its namesake, the C delivers 43 mpg overall, just one mpg less than the larger Prius and a stellar 37 mpg in the city, which is the best of any car we've tested. The C's tiny dimensions and easy parking also make it a natural for urban driving.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.
Fuel Economy & Emissions
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Greenhouse Gas Greenhouse Gas The Greenhouse Gas Rating represents the amount of carbon dioxide the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
Smog Rating Smog Rating The Smog Rating represents the amount of health-damaging and smog-forming airborne pollutants the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
NA
2018
2019
NA
2020
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Transmission Minor Transmission Minor Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.
NA
Drive System Drive System Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
NA
2018
NA
2019
NA
2020
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS and ESC standard. Side and head protection air bags standard. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking optional from 2016, standard from 2017.
Road Test

As Toyota's least-expensive hybrid, the Prius C seems like a great idea. Similar to its namesake, the C delivers 43 mpg overall, just one mpg less than the larger Prius and a stellar 37 mpg in the city, which is the best of any car we've tested. The C's tiny dimensions and easy parking also make it a natural for urban driving.

On the other hand, this subcompact hatchback suffers from a stiff ride, a noisy cabin, slow acceleration, and cheap-looking interior trim. The Prius C scores too low in our testing for us to recommend it.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
Front
Warranty
Coverage varies among versions of this vehicle

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door hatchback
Transmissions Available
  • CVT
Engines Available
  • 1.5-liter 4 hybrid (99 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2012 Toyota Prius C owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Body control module

"The dealer replaced an interface card to the main computer"

Rosamond G., NY (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Cruise control

"The switch to turn it on was defective. The car was 3 years old but still covered the part under warranty"

Anonymous, MN (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"The tail lights have malfunctioned in the past. When I brought it to my mechanic, he noticed a defect in the tail light paneling to the degree that water was leaking into the area and causing the tail lights to turn off. I was pulled over multiple lights due to the tail lights being out."

Kasia P., (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Both rear tail lights have developed a leak that lets water accumulate in the lower portion of the light assembly. It gets in but cannot get out. The problem was not covered under the car's extended Toyota warranty. The dealer's "solution" was to drill a small drain hole in the bottom of the housing to let the water drain out. Not my favorite outcome!"

Anonymous, PA (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"The problem started April 2019 The seal between the rear tailights and the body of the car rotted away and allowed water to fill the taillight. This caused the lights to short out. I at first thought there was an electrical problem that was causing the bulbs to short out. I could not find any electrical problems but I noticed the housing between the headlight and the car body had a gap. I ordered a new rear light assembly and replaced in in August of 2019 and have had no problems since."

Anonymous, NJ (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"rear passenger light continues to short out. Found crack in light cover, allowing for water to seep in and short light."

Craig B., PA (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Rear lights failed"

Anonymous, PA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Headlights

"I had a head light burn out"

Anonymous, WA (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"once a headlight went bad. Running lights went bad. The headlight unit had to be replaced, because it leaked"

Judith G., NV (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"The headlights on this model are quite dim. The night I bought it I returned to the dealer and had them check it out to see if there was something wrong. A friend of mine has the same car and her and the same issue."

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Horn

"All three problems were rat related. To fix the horn required removal of the bumper, too."

Kathryn H., CA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Interior lights

"several of the control lights do not and have never worked. the dealer refuses to fix them under warranty. for example in the "light group" switches and controls have lights so they can be seen at night. However, for many of the switches only one sid"

Anonymous, MO (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Keyless entry

"This seemed to be a wiring issue - possibly some degrading of the insulation on the wiring. It was fixed by the dealer and has not recurred."

Anonymous, FL (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Shortly after the car had 50000 miles (less than 3 years) the driver side door lock stopped working, then a few weeks later the passenger door lock stopped working. A few weeks later the rear passenger side door lock stopped working. Because we were over 50K miles (still less than 3 years) Toyota would not fix the issue."

Dan W., WA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Warning lights

"This was linked to the wiring issue I have already mentioned."

Anonymous, FL (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Warning sensor for passenger seat belt would not go out."

Anonymous, ME (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"The warning lights alerted me to the problem with the electrical system"

Rosamond G., NY (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

CD player

"I have not been able to use my CD player for several years due to a disc getting stuck in the CD player. The dealership was unable to retrieve the disc and I decided not to pay the hefty fee to replace the audio system."

Kasia P., (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"The cd eject motor failed and cannot retrieve the cd. According to the dealer the only recourse was to replace the whole unit which includes the navigater for about $1200"

Clifford P., MO (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Display screen difficult to see

"The navigation display is so bad you can't read it at all at times. I have to stop and hold my hand over it to get rid of glare or sit under a tree to see anything. I've called Toyota and they seem to think no one else has this problem. No one at"

K H., CA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"The GPS navigation is nearly invisible when it is sunny, or practically all day long. I have talked with dealer and with Toyota US headquarters. They seem to treat me like I'm the only one with this problem and it couldn't possibly be real"

Kathryn H., CA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

"GPS just stopped working. Its like the feature was never installed. GPS along with bluetooth just stopped."

Anonymous, KY (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"navigation system from time to time resets itself in the middle of use"

Anonymous, VA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Screen did not display any Map or GPS data and it took 3 visits to dealer to analyze problem and then two waits of over 2 days for parts to arrive as they are not stocked at dealerships"

E L., VA (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Phone pairing (e.g., Bluetooth)

"Worked for the first year. When I changed phones I can no longer get it to pair, even with the old phone. It won't pair with any device"

Judy B., CA (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Radio

"The antenna failed and satellite reception failed. Unit was replaced at no cost"

Carl C., AZ (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"In low temperatures, radio and all bluetooth will not work until car is warm, and then only after the car is turned off and restarted"

Joseph C., RI (2012 Toyota Prius C One 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"I get a ‘no signal’ message when I try to listen to any satellite station."

Mary A., UT (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Software update fixes

"purchased upgrade for navigation software and it did not show any of the new freeway exits or roads that i drive on for the previous three years. It was a wast of money and i do not use the navigation system any more. My phone nav system is better."

Anonymous, WA (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Voice control commands

"They don't work!! It never understands the voice command correctly"

Judy B., CA (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"Dealer found it was faulty during routine checkup, replaced under warranty"

Anonymous, MO (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"my 2012 was a 2007 Prius and it held up well only the brake pads and AC HAD PROBLEMS. It was a great car but had 160,000 miles on it and started looking old so I bought a 2015. It is the most reliable car I have owned"

Ursula E., FL (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Automatic climate control

"My AC stopped working. It was a part that had gone bad."

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Blower (fan) motor

"The AC and engine cooling fan are in a single assembly that failed. The AC stopped working when the car was in park, and kinda sorta worked when the car was running. The fan had failed completely, but the engine didn't overheat because when the car is stopped the engine doesn't run and when the car is running there is air running through the motor."

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Blower fan motor at the radiator fan broke off"

Gilles C., NB (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Electrical failure

"The climate control system stopped working, and the dealer had to replace the entire control panel"

Anonymous, GA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Heater system

"Heater control push buttons stick in the down position. Rubber weather strips around doors pulling off (only fastened onto door with small clips). Side, rear and passing visibility very poor due to strange positioning of windows"

Anonymous, MA (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Fuel leaks

"Flooding of the charcoal canister near the gas tank"

Graham L., BC (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Oil leaks

"Pan seal failed. Too soon for something like this to happen."

Eric B., VA (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Oil leak around timing box"

Anonymous, ME (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Timing chain cover sorted oil on the side. Have to have warranty remove cover and re seal dye RTV silicon blew out. Took two days to fix. Engine removed for this repair"

Rick M., KS (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Problem(s) fueling the tank

"Had a check engine light. The dealer said there was mud packed around in driver's rear wheel well causing problem and had to replace tank assembly to fix it. I felt it was dubious but I went along but will not return to that dealer."

Anonymous, ID (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"Do not recall when I first noticed the loose trim (passenger side, back door). Haven't asked how much it'd cost to fix--very expensive, I think."

Anonymous, (2012 Toyota Prius C Unsure 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Rubber trim strip on roof of car (driver's side) came off. Found part online and installed new one"

Anonymous, IL (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Poor thing just got old."

Ursula E., FL (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Rear bumper easily dents and scratches. A light touch of bumpers leaves a mark. Have had bumper repainted but it is looking poorly again"

Anonymous, OR (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Squeaks or rattles

"Under dash panel rattles on some roads"

Mervyn B., GA (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Passenger side front has an annoying rattle. Toyota dealership said it would take longer to diagnose so I plan to leave it with them during next service call"

Jim W., TX (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Wind noise

"Noisy difficult to hear radio, phone and to talk to passengers"

Anonymous, TX (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"Car was quiet when I purchased it from CarMax. Seems to be noisier now. Don't know why"

Jim W., TX (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Antilock system (ABS)

"The wires connecting the ABS sensors had corroded, creatin intermittent failure of ABS. It started in March 2020 and was fixed in April 2020"

Anonymous, RI (2012 Toyota Prius C One 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

"The brakes on my Prius C operate normally most of the time. HOWEVER, if I brake very hard, such as in an emergency, they can be very scary. If I hit even a small bump in the road during emergency braking, the car will momentarily accelerate and then go back to braking. Very unnerving!! This has happened since it was new. dealer finds nothing wrong. Emergency braking takes longer than other cars I have driven."

Anonymous, (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Premature brake wear

"Live in area of 5000 feet and must travel to sea level so up and down every time we drive"

Jay C., AK (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Squeaking

"Break wear"

Jay C., AK (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Locks and latches

"Gas filler door release stopped working. Had to pry open door to open it to fill gas. Took it to dealer and they insisted my wife had damaged it (not true). Appealed to regional Toyota people and they also would not authorize repair. Experience wa"

Anonymous, IL (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Sunroof

"Two years in a row my car flooded due to clogging in the drain lines from the sunroof. I have taken to having the lines cleaned each fall."

Anonymous, OR (2012 Toyota Prius C Three 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Tailgate, hatch or trunk

"Rubber gasket from body to hatch came unglued due to sealant used. Removed and sealed with black RTV high heat silicone. New rubber weather seal not avail from dealer at time of repair"

Rick M., KS (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel gauge/sender

"The car stopped while driving on a highway and I was able to get to the side of the road. I had to have the car towed to a Toyota dealer for repair"

Ed O., TX (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Fuel pump

"Took a long time to find the problem. Couldn't tell the amount of fuel in the car"

Judith G., NV (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"Indicator light came on"

Kathy S., NS (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Alignment

"car was found to be out of alignment, front this year, and rear last year"

Anonymous, TX (2012 Toyota Prius C One 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)
Wheel bearings

"Left rear bearing made lots of noise. Never failed and car was able to be driven. Never a safety issue"

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota Prius C Two 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Hybrid/electric battery replacement

"Hybrid battery failed and was replaced by dealer under warranty."

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

Antifreeze leaks

"Rats got into our garage and then my car chewing the engine coolant, wiper fluid, and horn lines. Once fixed, within 24 hours, they were back at it again. Now I park on the driveway and no problems."

Kathryn H., CA (2012 Toyota Prius C Four 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Other/unsure

"There is no warning system, and visibility is so poor that I hate to change lanes. I really dislike driving this car"

Anonymous, CA (2012 Toyota Prius C 1.5-L 4 Cyl hybrid)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

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