Toyota Prius C

While few people would look at a Prius and see it as a high-performance vehicle, the truth is that they are every bit as rigorously engineered as a Porsche or BMW. Toyota's designers maintain a ruthless pursuit of fuel economy, improving whenever and wherever they can.

For 2017, four variations of the Prius are available, intended to appeal to the variety of hybrid car buyers who have different requirements. The Prius, the standard on which all the others are based, is a 4-door compact hatch. Two other variants offer more flexibility and a greater price range. The "Prius c" is a bit smaller, but still offers 4-door access for five occupants and a cargo space of 17 cubic feet. The "Prius v" is the largest of the standard cars. Passenger volume is a capacious 97 cubic feet and it offers 34 cubic-feet of cargo space. Meanwhile, the Prius Prime also comes with four doors, though it's a 2+2, with seating for four.

All three standard Prius models are powered by a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine connected to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive electric motor. The only transmission choice remains a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which, rather than have distinct "gears" is able to choose whatever ratio is perfect for the job. The Prime, too, utilizes the fuel-sipping 1.8-liter engine and CVT, but pairs them with an 8.8 kWh battery pack. The car can run on battery power alone for up to 22 miles, perfect for the daily commute, while total range in hybrid mode is about 600 miles.

The interior of the Prius is big and airy, offering an open feel and a good view of the road ahead, with improved headroom over previous generations. Two 4.2-inch multi-information displays are housed within the instrument panel. Basic information such as speed and fuel level are displayed on the right. The left display, on the other hand, is programmable, allowing the driver to choose what information he or she wants to see at any time. A heads up display projects onto the windshield and serves to further keep the driver in the know without ever having to look away from the road. The Prime benefits from an 11.6-inch touchscreen display that is centrally mounted vertically, similar to that found in the Tesla, and it is controlled through simple tap/swipe gestures, much like a tablet.

Basic features on the Prius include 15-inch alloy wheels, low rolling resistance tires and four-wheel disc brakes. Higher trim levels include a navigation system, 17-inch alloys and synthetic leather seating surfaces. A suite of safety options include a pedestrian detection system and a pre-collision warning system, as well as a radar-controlled dynamic cruise control system.

Options include a premium JBL sound system and a full parking assistance system, which will make parallel parking much easier with the help of ultrasonic sensors.

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Editors' First Take

If you're familiar with Best Buy's Geek Squad, the group that charges you obscene amounts of money to remove whatever malware ended up on your grandpa's PC, you're probably familiar with its cars. Those black-and-white Volkswagen Beetles are all over the country, but Geek Squad is getting with the times and moving to something a bit more efficient.

Gone is the Volkswagen Beetle of old, and here now is the Toyota Prius C. More than 1,000 of these diminutive hybrid-electric vehicles will be hanging out in Best Buy parking lots and grandfathers' driveways around the country.

There's a good chance that Geek Squad is doing this to save some serious money. While old Beetles aren't exactly thirsty at the pump, the Prius C achieves 53 mpg city and 46 mpg highway, which you won't get out of a Beetle without some dangerous hypermiling maneuvers.

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