Entry Price: $20,630
Price as tested: $26,779

This week, we’re driving the 2018 Toyota Prius c, the compact size hybrid sedan available in One, Two, Three and Four trims. Prius c is the smallest of the Prius family that rides on a near six-inch shorter wheelbase from its big brother, which rides on a 106.3 inch wheelbase and is powered by a 1.8-liter engine. Because of its compact size, our Prius c comes powered by a smaller 1.5 liter four cylinder and delivers 46 city and 48 highway EPA fuel mileage estimates.

Today’s Toyota Prius family comes in 15 different flavors from the entry $20,630 Prius c One to top line Prius Four Touring, which starts at $30,565. Our Prius c Four starts at $24,965 well equipped.

First, a bit of Prius history.

Introduced in 2000, Prius took on head-to-head the already released Honda Insight Hybrid, the latter a smaller vehicle that debuted in December 1999. Although Honda won the “first to market” hybrid battle, when it came to the interior, Insight’s sub compact design didn’t offer much as it was tiny, offered little or no cargo space and came only as a two-seater until 2009.

Toyota, meanwhile, hit the shores of America seven months after Insight, but as a four-door sedan with room for four to five passengers and more than enough cargo room. To this day, Prius is the king of the hybrids, regardless of other manufacturer efforts that deserve praise as we speed closer to the year 2020.

Our 2018 compact Prius c came in top flight Four Touring trim, which means it’s pretty much fully loaded. Under the hood, the aforementioned 1.5-liter four-cylinder develops just 78-horsepower, arrived at by combining the electric power output with the horsepower from the engine’s dual overhead design. The transmission is Toyota’s electronically controlled Synergy Drive automatic (CVT), which is also standard in all models and offers three driving modes of EV, Normal or Eco. The EV operates in fully electric mode when the batteries are fully charged and you can travel for local stints for a few miles. Eco is the economy mode that reduces energy consumption via climate control and throttle response. Normal, meanwhile, utilizes internal combustion and electric in unison for overall best performance. Acceleration is decent at best, but remember these compact Prius c models with the smaller engines are not built for performance.

Nonetheless, you’ll be somewhat impressed with the Prius low end RPM response from a standing start, but always remember that the Prius is built to deliver outstanding fuel mileage, comfortable surroundings and the ability to drive a bit on EV full electric power.

The exterior deserves special note as all Prius models were re-styled in 2016 and feature a more aerodynamic design. New for 2018 updates include a new crossover-inspired motif that features a standard black roof rail accent that blends nicely with a front and rear silver-accent lower body guards and color-keyed spoiler. Our tester featured a special orange “Tide Pool Pearl” color for $300 more, along with optional carpeted floor and cargo mats for $224 and 16-inch eight-spoke alloy wheels for an additional $300. With $895 shipping, it brought the final retail to $26,779. (I did like the enhanced orange exterior color).

As for safety, the 2018 Prius ups the ante versus the competition thanks to the standard Toyota Star Safety System, known for nine airbags, traction and stability controls and everything working in unison for ultimate safety. Add into this equipment the addition of the Toyota Safety Sense package as standard fare, a feature that was previously an option on the Prius One and Prius Two models. We applaud Toyota for this move as every new Prius now comes delivered with pre-collision braking system, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, steering assist (when a driver goes out of their lane it corrects) and even automatic high beams. Of all the features the 2018 Prius offers, I applaud Toyota for this new standard safety package.

Inside, a deluxe 6.1-inch touch screen with Entune App Suite six-speaker stereo is standard, as is three-months of free Sirius/XM. Owners will enjoy HD radio, Bluetooth, backup camera, cruise control, Smart Key push button start, power windows, cargo light, heated SofTex front seats, Smart Flow climate control, a 3.5-inch multi-information display, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, heated front seats, 15-inch alloy wheels, and even a power moonroof with a tilt and slide feature. There’s lots more your Toyota dealer will gladly explain when you visit.

On the highway, Prius Four c handles well, although there is a bit of road noise until you crank on that Entune stereo system. Not surprisingly, the Prius c is a four star government safety rated vehicle while owner satisfaction records are very impressive.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 100.4 inches, 2,530 lb. curb weight, 9.5 gallon fuel tank, 5.5 inch ground clearance, 31.4 ft. turn circle and 17.1 cu. ft. of cargo space.

Be it small, medium or large, any front-drive Prius is a value these days especially with year-end incentives coming into play.

Likes: Fuel mileage, Toyota hybrid reliability, economical pricing.
Dislikes: A little road noise, smaller four-cylinder is not as peppy.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.