Baby Toyota Prius c toddles towards production

Toyota's compact Prius c sheds its concept car pretenses as it approaches production.

Toyota Prius c
Toyota's compact Prius c sheds its concept car pretenses as it approaches production. Toyota

The Prius family is about to get bigger and smaller at the same time.

Toyota continues its diversification of the Prius line of hybrid vehicles (which currently comprises the Prius v , the Prius Plug-in , and, of course, the standard Prius) with a new downsized model that the automaker thinks will be great for the tight-quarters driving of major metropolitan areas and as an entry point for young drivers interested in hybridization. We've known that this was coming--we've already seen the concept . Now, however, we finally know what the production model of the Prius c will look like when it hits showroom floors.

The Prius c will be about 20 inches shorter than the standard-sized third-generation Prius liftback model. For a better sense of scale, parking the baby Prius next to a Toyota Yaris five-door reveals that the two hatchbacks are about the same size. The hybrid is about 3 inches longer from nose to tail with a similar increase in wheelbase, but features a roofline that sits about 3 inches lower.

Inside, the Prius c sticks more or less with the asymmetrical-dashboard-with-eyebrow-display setup that all Prii have showcased up to this point. Interestingly, it eschews the dashboard drive selector in favor of a floor-mounted unit. The c will be available with Toyota's suite of Entune infotainment and connectivity software.

Inside, the Prius c will be familiar to Toyota hybrid aficionados. Toyota

Toyota Prius c
Outside, the hybrid takes on a more traditional compact hatchback profile. Toyota

The Prius c will arrive in January 2012 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with a 1.5-liter version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system under its hood. We've no word yet on whether this will improve, reduce, or even affect the Prius c's fuel economy estimates.

Check out the video preview below for an early peek at Toyota's new small hybrid in action.

 

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