Cruising With CornerstoneDad…In the Toyota Prius C

When I heard the Toyota Prius C was coming out with its low price point (compared to other hybrid offerings), I was quite excited. After having one in the CornerstoneDad driveway for one night, I must confess, this ride is the real fuel-sipping deal as I nearly hit 60-mpg driving on rush hour traffic in my 45-mile commute.

New personal record of any car I’ve ever had in the CSD driveway

The styling of this $25,000 model was nearly identical to the new Yaris. I drove the Yaris a few months back and was thoroughly disappointed with the road noise and lack of amenities. However, the Prius C makes up for this by adding the usual hybrid video game-type feedback in the dash screen, iPod connector and easy-to-use radio interface. While the radio doesn’t shake the rearview mirror, it was more than adequate to drown out the road noise and wiper chatter I found from the Yaris. But who buys a hybrid for those things anyway?

The star of the show is the hybrid system. Toyota’s hybrid system works flawlessly as once the Prius C gets going, it quickly drops down to using more electric motor power and less engine power. Featuring a nickel-metal-hydride battery instead of the more modern lithium-ion battery chemistry, allows Toyota to keep the price down low in a lighter vehicle where power density is less of an issue. I DO think the Prius V (a sure CSD car of the year finalist) would benefit more from a lithium-ion battery, as the engine and battery have to work much harder to get the vehicle moving in traffic which decreases fuel economy to levels on par with a conventional engine-only vehicle without the added tech-cost. But the nickel works just fine in the Prius C.

For $25K, I’d definitely consider putting one in my driveway. I could put three kids in the back without hearing the usual, “Ouch, get off me” or “Move, can’t you’re sitting on my seatbelt”.

What do you think? Have you made the hybrid plunge and if not, could this be the vehicle to pull you in?

Homeruns:

–          Toyota Hybrid System (THS), it’s everything it’s supposed to be – did I say I got almost 60-mpg?

–          Good space in small package

–          Telematics/info screen

–          Weird seat material that actually looked and felt pretty good

–          A decent driving car…for a hybrid

–          You make people behind you on the phone mad because you don’t want to get out of EV-Mode

Strikeouts:

–          Harsh ride had me afraid I’d blow out a tire on some of these mid-west roads…okay, that could happen in a Yukon as well but I’d at least keep my teeth-fillings

–          Wind noise

–          Brake regeneration-stopping feels risky when in stop-and-go traffic

–          Some materials in the interior felt cheap, so just don’t touch those too often

–          You make people behind you on the phone mad because you don’t want to get out of EV-Mode, so some get close to “push” you along.

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