A-List Rides: Hollywood Style In Toyota Prius

I was so excited about getting the 2012 Toyota Prius Three because I just knew I was going to be able to ride in the Washington, DC area HOV lanes. Unfortunately, I learned that I had to have a vehicle model pre-2011 to utilize the convenient traffic lane.

Regardless, in a bad economy the Toyota Prius is a dream come true with horrific gas prices killing people’s pockets. It’s excellent on your personal finances when you recognize that you can almost drive from DC to Alaska and never have to refuel—I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture.

The Toyota Prius is the car Hollywood stars like Forest Whitaker, Miley Cyrus, Tanika Ray and Demi Moore all own. Why? Because its environmentally friendly and even Tinseltown megastars want to save gas on those extended Los Angeles commutes. The Prius has one of the lowest drag coefficients of any car on the market and in any class—with a fuel economy that the EPA projects will get you 50 mpg.

The 2012 Toyota Prius Three is a five-door hatchback with a high tail and a split rear window. It’s the most aerodynamic shape for a five-passenger mid-size car. Inside the Prius offers modern, space-age styling with lots of visually enticing digital images on the Information Center to show you how the vehicle functions.

The 1.8-liter engine is paired with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, which uses a pair of motor-generators that can power the car solely on electricity (at speeds up to 30 mph), add torque to supplement the engine power, and recharge the battery pack during engine overrun or braking. The combined output of the engine and hybrid system is 134 horsepower. The Prius doesn’t pack the greatest punch, but it gets the job done. The electric power steering is lifeless and numb—something I find consistent in most Toyota vehicles it’s in.

To be a mid-size car, the Prius is surprisingly spacious. You can fit four adults comfortably, have tremendous trunk space and compartments build into the vehicle to store your odds and ends. The Prius is a safe vehicle, offering seven airbags as standard, along with anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. The rear-view camera, rear sensors and the Intelligent Parking Assist are added bonuses as well.

The most annoying downside to the Prius is the rear backup beep. Apparently you can go to the manufacturer and potentially get it deactivated, and if I purchased one, I definitely would!

Spin Control: The list price of my Prius was $25,565 and for the fuel efficient benefit alone it’s worth every penny. It’s not the most visually aesthetic vehicle, but you love the value you get for your money.

Industry Status: Grade B

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