Will the Prius C "fit" my needs?
December 30, 2013 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I've driven a 2008 Honda Fit Sport for the last 5 years, right up until it got totaled in a collision last week. One of my top choices on paper is the 2013 Toyota Prius C 2, and another is the 2013 Fit Sport. I'll be test driving a Prius C tomorrow, but in the meantime I want to hear from anyone who has experience with both cars. One specific question is: How roomy is the back seat in the Prius C as compared to the fit?

An important duty of the car is to transport me and two male colleagues to lunch daily (we're all average-to-tall guys), so if the Prius C is less comfortable in the back, that could be a deal breaker. But I also would like to hear any less obvious things to consider when deciding between the two.
posted by jepler to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I drive a Fit, and have often rented a Prius for work travel. I'm not sure how much power a 2008 Fit Sport has, but the Prius really seems to have more get up and go. And there is plenty of height, especially in the back, where the Fit is going to be cramped for adults.

The Fit's fuel economy is not that great, really - it's comparable to an Accord - so presumably a Prius is going to save on gas.

The Fit's main selling point, of course, is its cargo space. It's pretty amazing, and I am pretty sure a Fit has more space than a Prius.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:26 PM on December 30, 2013

I've been window-shopping for cars lately (I love my current car, but it's eleven years old, and it's better to have an idea what's out there); both the Fit and the Prius C are the top of my own list.

I'm leaning more towards the Fit, because of that cargo area. And to be honest, for me, the lower get up & go of the Fit is actually a plus: keeps my lead foot from getting me into too much trouble speeding-ticket-wise!
posted by easily confused at 3:51 PM on December 30, 2013

A Prius C is the smaller, underpowered and cheaper stepsister of the Prius, so be wary of reviews talking about the regular Prius, because they may not apply to the C. I'd recommend the Fit. It's just a nicer car.
posted by intermod at 3:58 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I also would like to hear any less obvious things to consider when deciding between the two.

Well, there's price, for one thing. The Prius is going to get better mileage, but you essentially pay for that up front with a higher purchase price. If the mileage difference isn't awesome, or you just don't drive all that much, it could take you longer than the lifetime of the car to make it back with actual gas savings. In which case you'd save money by getting the Fit, even if it does cost more to fill up. Then again, if the mileage difference is significant or you drive in excess of 20k miles a year, you could pay that back and then some in three to five years.

So when you run your pricing, do some of that math. Depending on the relative mileage and pricing, either car might come out ahead in terms of overall economic efficiency.

A Prius C is the smaller, underpowered and cheaper stepsister of the Prius, so be wary of reviews talking about the regular Prius, because they may not apply to the C. I'd recommend the Fit. It's just a nicer car.

Oh, and this, definitely. My standard Prius hatchback actually has more cargo space and headroom than my wife's full-size sedan. Prius Cs are just smaller all around.
posted by valkyryn at 4:00 PM on December 30, 2013

We have one of each - a 2012 Prius c and a 2008 Fit. I like the Prius better.

The Prius gets much better mileage, of course. I regularly get close to 50 mpg on the highway. The Fit is more like 30 at best. I think the Prius is pretty responsive, but I'm a fairly conservative driver. The Fit definitely has more room in the hatchback. The Prius c is smaller than a standard Prius, which is great for parallel parking in the city, but the storage is what you give up. I find the Prius c to have better visibility than the regular Prius - I'm pretty tall, and I find it tough sometimes to see out the back of the regular Prius.

They're similar in terms of back seat room - neither are huge, but you can fit two adults in the back for short trips.

The Prius also has all the cool bells and whistles - you can track your fuel consumption and mileage per month, for example.

The other thing to think about is long-term maintenance. Both are very reliable cars, but the Prius' design means that you'll never need to change the starter or timing belt, among other things.
posted by chbrooks at 4:14 PM on December 30, 2013

As a 2013 Fit Sport owner (who also looked at Priuses and Prius Cs), here's why I made my choice:

  • Those folding seats on the Fit really come in handy.
  • The Fit felt like it had much more cargo space and more room. Friends have been in awe at how much space there is in the back seat when I drive them around. The Prius C, not so much when we test drove.
  • The Fit, to me, was much more fun to drive, especially the Sport with its bigger rims. It feels the road more, has more pep, and is a little sportier. The Priuses are much heavier cars, and you can feel it.
  • Both Priuses have mushy gas pedals. I live in a city where I need to be able to gun it to get on the freeway or deal with aggressive drivers, and Priuses drove me nuts when I test drove.
  • The Prius's mileage is all fine and good for street driving, but it gets noticeably worse the faster you drive and the more the car has to rely on its gas motor. Its sweet spot is driving about 45 or so, unlike most cars, which have a sweet spot MPG-wise at about 55-60.
  • Both Priuses have mushy brakes. I found it annoying how hard it was to brake smoothly... the electronic brake systems caused me to lurch to a stop every time when I was on my test drive for both vehicles.
  • The Fit is a MUCH easier car for a garage to work on, given how Honda designed it, and given how it is laid out under the hood. I expect my repair bills will be much less over time.

  • The Fit's interior feels cheap. When you test drive a Fit, check out its door panels in the front on each side. They feel very much like cheap lightweight plastic. Toyota did a better job with the Prius.
  • The stock stereo system with the 2013 Fit is very outdated, and is about what a "high tech" car would've looked like back in 2007 or so. I think the speakers are great for such a little cheap car, but the console itself is very old school and not at all modern. The USB interface does not work with a lot of mp3 players, and is very finicky to the point of being almost useless. Good radio and CD player though, and you do have Aux.
  • My 2013 manual Fit Sport gets about 33-35 mpg on average, which is great in my opinion, but others might want the benefits of better mpg on a Prius.
Both are good cars! That's why I made my choice, though.
posted by Old Man McKay at 4:33 PM on December 30, 2013

The cheapest Prius c msrp is close to the top of the line fit msrp, and it goes way up from there. A few thousand dollars buys a lot of gas, in case the mpg is a big issue for you.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:28 PM on December 30, 2013

Thanks all for the answers so far.

valkyryn, you're right about the fuel economy. We're not driving cross country every month, but over the length of time we hope to own this new car we'd make up the additional sticker price of the Prius C over the Fit (though not necessarily by a huge margin). FWIW my numbers are based on current ($3.xx) gas prices and driving 120k miles over the lifetime of the car. Numbers for the Prius obviously get better if gas prices go up.

While searching the web after submitting my question, I did find some numbers on passenger space. I assembled them into a spreadsheet since I couldn't get the source site, cars.com, to side-by-side these numbers: Car Dimensions
posted by jepler at 7:18 PM on December 30, 2013

Gas prices aren't very likely to increase at the moment, since we're transferring more towards domestic oil sources and oil from places that like us more than the Middle East does.

As far as the Prius C goes, don't. They're okay on reliability, but I can confirm from personal experience that they're desperately cheap on the inside. Basically, it's the cut-rate Prius - refurbished chassis from two generations ago, no interior features really worth speaking of, and cheap, nasty plastic everywhere. It hits 60 in 10.7 seconds, which is slow enough that I'd call it dangerous if you're pulling into traffic on a short on-ramp or into a fast-moving street. The Fit isn't much better - 9.9 seconds with the slushbox - but it's still almost a second faster than the Prius. Do the "one-one-thousand" count for yourself to see how big of a difference that makes. The Fit interior isn't exactly luxurious, but it's crammed full of neat features (and has enough cupholders to keep everyone well catered-for with beverages) and it's nice enough to be in. The C has considerably less functional space than the Fit as well. Those magic seats really are quite magic, and drastically improve the cargo space of the car. The C might be a hybrid, and if fuel economy is your #1 and only concern for this car, then you should get the C - but I think life is too short, and traffic too long, to sit around in a car with a nasty interior.

If $20k is roughly your budget (that's about the cost of the Prius C 2), if I might be so bold, I would recommend you look at the Ford Fiesta hatchback. It's in-between the Fit and the Prius C in terms of interior usability, but it's a much, much nicer place to be if you like the interior design. It's a Ford of Europe Ford, which means it's not like the terrible shitboxes Ford used to offer in the North American small car market (Ford of Europe being known for making some of the best small cars of all time over there), so it's reliable as well. If it absolutely has to have a Japanese badge attached to it, look at the Mazda 2, but know that it's literally just a Ford Fiesta with "Mazda" written on where the Ford badge used to be and a slightly different suspension tune. If smallness isn't a massive concern with you (and since you're looking at a Prius C, I can guess that it isn't), consider the Hyundai Veloster, as well. Sporty little scamp, even in non-turbo form, with funky cool looks inside and out.

And, of course, there's a plethora of options if you're wiling to consider a mildly-used car as well. (I personally wouldn't buy a new car unless I 100% had my heart set on a specific new model.) Used Priuses - from this generation - clock in at about $20k, too, so you could maybe get the big boy version of the car you're looking at. MeMail me if you want to talk more about options, I've helped out some other MeFites pick out cars.
posted by Punkey at 11:37 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Punkey's suggestion to look at a Ford, though I would look at a Focus hatchback, not the Fiesta. It's bigger, and it's comparable in price to a top end Fit or a low end Prius C. It is very well reviewed. It's zippier and a little nicer inside than the Fit, but it has less cargo space.

I still thought the Fit was the best choice for me, but the Focus hatchback was worth checking out. Between the Focus and the Fusion, Ford has given me a little bit of faith in the quality of American cars. Both are very well designed.
posted by Old Man McKay at 1:43 AM on December 31, 2013

My mechanic was very positive about the Ford Fusion, but last week I just bought a base model manual Fit. I didn't feel the Sport features added much (does anyone actually use those shifters?), and with a manual, I get lower cost in the short and long-term, plus my kids are less likely to borrow it. With a $500 rebate my cost was under 15K before taxes and fees, and I got 0.9% financing. I like the manual. It feels snappier than the automatic, and my MPG driving around town is about 33.5 so far, admittedly with only a couple of hundred miles, with it still creeping upwards. I did not look at the Prius C except briefly, but like everyone, I like the flexibility of the cargo space on the Fit and I looked hard at a lot of the competitors. In the end, Honda's reputation, and the cargo space probably tipped the balance.

I was tempted by the Hyundai Elantra GT, and looked at the Mazda 3 too.
posted by idb at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2013

I, as an owner of a 2012 Prius C, just answered a very similiar question here: Hybrid shopping. Haven't driven a Fit, but did post acutal data from my MPG tracker. The backseat is roomy enough, but the lack of trunk space has been inconvenient at times.
posted by Lizc at 11:24 AM on December 31, 2013

I went this morning to look at a Prius C, and the back seat is significantly less roomy than a fit—we didn't even bother driving it. Based on this, we crossed it off our list. Thanks again to everyone for your answers.
posted by jepler at 2:13 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

In the end, we ended up getting a 2013 Prius (original body style, not the C). Between the anticipated fuel cost savings over 120k miles and everything else that makes the Prius better than the Fit (but is harder to put a dollar price on), we felt it was the right choice for us.
posted by jepler at 7:29 AM on January 4, 2014

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