Toyota Prius C starts at around $19,000

With Toyota’s new member of the Prius family set to start arriving at US dealerships in March, the company is hard at work gearing up for the release.

And as the delivery logistics are being worked out, the service manuals printed and the hype machine shifting into high gear, Toyota is putting the very final tweak on the Prius c — its window mounted price sticker.

The company recently announced manufacturer’s suggested retail prices for the five-door hatchback, a smaller, sportier Prius that Toyota sees as the “gateway into the Prius Family.”

Expect to pay $18,950 for the standard version of the car, which includes automatic climate control, tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, multi-information display and Bluetooth hands free phone controls; and remote keyless entry. You’ll also get nine airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control.

Of course, there are plenty of options. Aside from the standard, stock version of the Prius C, Toyota will also offer three other versions of the car (cleverly named two, three and four), with various degrees of high-tech and luxury gizmos.

Upgrade to the Prius C Two ($19,900) and you’ll be treated to a 6-speaker audio system, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with adjustable headrests, cruise control, engine immobilizer, center console with armrest and storage compartment, and a cargo area tonneau cover.

The Prius C Three ($21,635) will see a host of technology upgrades including a 6.1-inch touchscreen for audio and navigation, USB ports with i-Pod connectivity, a host of apps and even push-button start.

The company’s high-end model, the Prius c Four ($23,230) adds 15-inch, 8-spoke alloy wheels, heated front seats, color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, and integrated fog lamps. Optional equipment for the Prius c Four includes 16-inch, 8-spoke alloy wheels with 195/50R16 tires and power tilt telescopic moonroof with sunshade.

Updated, sporty looks and heated seats aside, the real draw of the new Prius is its economy. With an EPA-estimated city fuel economy rating of 53 mpg, Prius c offers the highest city mpg rating of any vehicle without a plug. The car will get and 46 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 50 mpg.

* Steve Duda, EarthTechling