I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “Well, I’d like to buy a Prius, but it’s just so darned big.”
But Toyota says it did because the latest Prius model on the market is -- ta da! -- smaller than its predecessors.
It’s called the Prius c, with the “c” standing for “city.”
I got the opportunity to hear company people list its virtues and then drive it for a bit at a special media preview last week in Delray Beach.
We stayed at the Seagate Hotel and Spa a couple of blocks from A1A, which runs in fits and starts along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Skies were sunny and temperatures in the low 80s. Yes, it’s such a tough life.
I should point out here that the Prius c is not so radically small that it is comparable to, say, the company’s Scion IQ, which is of the bloated golf cart ilk. At 157.3 inches long, the Prius c is only about 19 inches shorter than its older brother, the familiar Prius Liftback.
When my friend and former colleague at the magazine Russ and I went to lay claim to one for the morning drive we first picked out the Prius Liftback the event sponsors had provided for comparison purposes.
Once straightened out, Russ and I spent an hour or two meandering through Palm Beach County, visiting such historical spots such as Russ’ former home in Boynton Beach and a friend’s place that had served as party headquarters. Still does, in fact, when he gets back for visits.
In what has to be an inexcusable oversight, the local historical society has failed to mark either site with appropriate plaques.
I once saw a video that had as its title “How to Drive a Hybrid,” but as far as I am concerned, there is no real secret. You do pretty much what you do in any car you want to save on gas -- go light on the pedal and lift your foot well in advance of red lights, braking gently.
This probably explains why the indicator in the dash showed that neither Russ nor I was getting optimum fuel-saving performance out of the Prius c, which is supposed to deliver 53 miles per gallon in the city and 46 on the highway
Ed Le Rocque, who carries with him the title of National Brand Manager; Advanced Passenger Cars for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. (he must get tired lugging that around), said during the presentation that the Prius c was intended for “for young singles and couples who appreciate a vehicle with responsive handling that is easy to park.”
“Young singles and couples” is not exactly a demographic that either Russ or I fit, and a glance around confirmed that not many, maybe one or two at the most, of the others in the room would fit either, but what are you going to do?
The Prius c does come packed with a lot of gee-whiz technological features that will appeal to the younger generation buyers it is targeting, but the only one Russ and I checked out was the Satellite Radio.
The Prius c comes in four trim levels dubbed Prius c One, Two, Three, and Four. Apparently, the people in Toyota’s creative names department went out to celebrate after coming up with “c for city.” The starting price is $18,950 for the One, $19,900 for the Two, $21,635 for the Three, and $23,230 for the Four.
They are due to begin arriving in showrooms sometime this month.