The 2005 Toyota Prius is more than a car. It's a phenomenon. It's positive proof that more people than Toyota imagined want to drive cars with radically improved fuel economy and significantly less environmental impact.
This second-generation Prius, introduced as a 2004 model, is larger than the original, and is now a midsize car. It's roomy, with adult-size back seats and lots of cargo space. And it's also more pleasant to look at, with sleek, futuristic styling. It's easy to spot in a crowded grocery store parking lot.
The Prius is rated 60/51 mpg City/Highway by the federal government's Environmental Protection Agency, with a Combined rating of 55 mpg. You're more likely to see 41 to 48 mpg, however, which may reduce your annual gas purchases by a couple hundred bucks. That realization has angered buyers who thought they'd save more money on fuel.
The real justification to buy a Prius is its extremely low emissions. It produces almost no pollution and is one of the most environmentally friendly vehicles you can drive. The Prius is an excellent choice for buyers who want to reduce air pollution and America's dependence on oil. The Prius isn't cheap, but it's an amazing piece of engineering that achieves those goals.
It's important to understand that the Prius is not an electric car. You never plug it in. And there's no worry about driving beyond the range of the battery. A small, highly efficient four-cylinder gasoline engine charges the battery as you drive. No special knowledge is needed to drive this car. It works just like a regular car: You get in, you twist the key, you put the lever in Drive and you go. When it gets low on gas, you fill it up.
The Prius is the best-selling gas-electric hybrid in the United States and in the world and it's only gaining in popularity. When it debuted as a compact in 2001, Toyota sold just 5,600 in the U.S. By 2003, U.S. sales had expanded to nearly 25,000. For 2004, Toyota redesigned the Prius, turning it into midsize car and completely re-engineering its mechanical and electrical systems. It's now much more attractive to many more people. Toyota sold more than 50,000 Prius models in the U.S. in 2004. It was praised by the press and was named 2004 North American Car of the Year by a jury of 50 independent automotive journalists, including New Car Test Drive.
The Prius has been so popular that there's been a six-month waiting list to buy one. To address this, Toyota is expanding worldwide Prius production by 50 percent, from 10,000 per month to 15,000. Still, it seems that as Toyota builds more Prius hybrids, more people want them. And why not? The 2005 Toyota Prius is not only an impressive technological statement, it's a car that's easy to like and live with.
The 2005 Toyota Prius comes in one well-equipped trim level ($20,875).
Check the list of standard equipment, and you'll see that the word "economy" applies only to Prius in terms of fuel consumption. The fabric upholstery is as good as it gets. Automatic air conditioning with a micron filter is standard, as are power windows, door locks and heated outside mirrors; remote keyless entry; cruise control; a tilting steering wheel with redundant climate and audio controls; intermittent front and rear wipers; and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo.
Safety is enhanced with antilock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, and traction control. Standard passive safety features include multi-stage, dual front airbags; three-point seatbelts and head restraints at all five seating positions; and rear seat head restraints that are adjustable. Curtain airbags designed to offer head protection for front and rear passengers and seat-mounted side-impact airbags for torso protection for driver and front-seat passenger are optional ($650).
Options are bundled into packages for 2005. Package 2 ($920) combines a security alarm, Homelink garage door opener, and Smart Key system. Package 3 ($1,100) combines the Smart Key System with the airbag package. Package 6 ($5,065) bundles all of the above with GPS navigation with voice recognition, Bluetooth capability, a nine-speaker JBL stereo with six-disc CD changer, electronic Vehicle Skid Control, fog lamps, and HID headlamps.