I bought a Toyota Prius just a week ago. I have been procrastinating over it for a long time, but finally reminded myself that we only live once. My primary reason was environmental, but I suspect that, in the end, other reasons will prove equally important (especially torque). First of all, I must say that fuel consumption is around 5 lt/100km, but I am keeping a log and will have more reliable data on this during the next months. My previous car, a Citroen Xanthia 1800, needed around 9.5 lt/100km, and that was by driving very smoothly and shifting into neutral when going downhill. My wife’s Peugeot 406 (2 lt) goes at 10 lt/100km. Apart from fuel consumption, other nice things are:
The Prius has an automatic transmission, which works very well and handles all the ‘high-tech’ business of engaging the electric or conventional engine and charging the battery (this is shown on the LCD display and is great fun in the beginning). After a while, this high-tech feeling may fade away and I think that I will not take much notice. However, when looking at the other cars on the road, you are reminded that you are driving something different.
Torque is great! I can climb steep roads going as slowly as I wish with no fear of the engine stalling. If the battery is well charged, this can even work with the electric engine only, so there is no noise (‘vroom-vroom’) and no exhaust fumes (very nice, if you are in a garage). There is a rather steep road very close to my office, with traffic lights. When the green light turns on, most cars have trouble starting without rolling back a bit. The Prius is so easy.
The car is silent (completely silent) when going on battery power. This is great in my garage, but if you are driving on the street, pedestrians may not realize you are there, so take care.
Interior room is very comfortable. The trunk is a bit small.
Acceleration is also very good (by family car standards), but, when the conventional engine kicks in, there is some engine noise. This is probably more noticeable in the Prius than other cars, because most of the times it is not there.
Main negative: Price was rather high, at Euro 28.500. When I bought the car, I was certain that fuel economy would not compensate for this, because I was comparing the Prius with cars that cost around 15.000 to 20.000 Euro. But now I think that this is more of a car than I thought, so perhaps a more valid comparison would be with a larger car, say an Avensis (at around 25000 Euro).