A hybrid for every need.
The versatile Prius hatchback not only pioneered hybrid technology but also proved “green” cars could appeal to those outside a narrow niche of environmentally conscious buyers. Toyota has widened the vehicle’s scope even further with the Prius v and Prius c variants. The v has a tall rear hatch that certifies it for Costco duty. The c, which rides on the same platform as the Toyota Yaris and has a smaller engine, is the least expensive hybrid on the market. The v and the c both exhibit the competent — if not quite engaging — dynamic qualities of the regular Prius, with good body control and decently weighted steering. On the other hand, they’re also very slow. The heavy v puts out the same 134 hp as the hatchback, and the lighter c squeaks out just 99 hp. The c manages the same 50 mpg combined rating as the regular Prius, with the v hitting only 42 mpg. Toyota has also rolled out a plug-in version of the Prius hatchback that uses lithium-ion batteries. Its promised fifteen-mile electric range isn’t quite in the Chevrolet Volt’s league, but the Prius Plug-in returns better mileage than the Chevy in hybrid mode and thus receives a higher mpge rating from the EPA. The Toyota is cheaper, too.
Volkswagen Jetta TDI
new for 2013
The Prius enjoys a quiet 2013.
Front, side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.
Good fuel economy
Decent driving dynamics
Proven and popular
No longer the greenest choice
Even with more flavors, it’s still vanilla
Base Price Range: $20,000–$33,000 (est.)
TRIM LEVELS: Prius, Two, Three, Four, Five, c, c Two, c Three, c Four, v, v Two, v Three, v Five, Plug-in
BODY STYLE: Hatchback, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 1.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 99 net hp
1.8L I-4/electric hybrid, 134 net hp
TRANSMISSION: Continuously variable
PASSENGER VOLUME: 93.7–97.2 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (Prius/Prius c) 21.6/17.1 cu ft; (v, rear seats up/down) 4.3/67.3 cu ft