The forward-thinking 2006 Prius with Hybrid Synergy Drive®
combines a gas engine and an emissions-free electric motor
to achieve amazing fuel economy and an Advanced Technology
Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) rating
 - all with the performance of a conventional car.
And to make up to 650 miles
 between fill-ups comfortable, there’s now an
available leather-trimmed interior and available cutting-edge
features like Bluetooth®
 wireless technology, Smart Key System and backup camera
. Plus you never need to plug-in for recharging. What
more could you ask for? Well, several states now give
Prius owners carpool lane privileges. And you'll definitely
want to read more about federal tax benefits for Prius
The Prius wasn't the first hybrid car on the market in
the U.S., but with four doors, a sizable trunk and room
for four, it was the first such vehicle to offer the practicality
of a typical economy car along with the outstanding fuel
mileage of a hybrid. The second-generation model, introduced
in 2004, delivers all that and more, with an even larger
interior, hatchback utility and a hybrid drivetrain that's
more powerful and cleaner than the previous version.
For the uninitiated, a hybrid drivetrain typically uses
a small gasoline engine in conjunction with an electric
motor to provide power while keeping emissions and fuel
usage to a minimum. Under full acceleration, both power
sources work together to provide maximum oomph, but under
lighter load conditions, such as stop-and-go traffic,
the Prius alternates between the two, oftentimes running
purely on battery power alone.
A regenerative braking system converts energy normally
lost as heat into electricity to charge the car's batteries.
Although the current powertrain works in much the same
way as the first-generation model, it delivers considerably
more power with fewer emissions. Toyota claims that its
exhaust emissions have been reduced by 30 percent over
the previous model, allowing it to earn both SULEV (Super
Ultra Low-Emission Vehicle) and PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions
Vehicle) ratings. Although the car is rated to get combined
city/highway mileage of 55 miles to the gallon by the
EPA, our experience has shown that its real-world mileage
is about 45 mpg.
Apart from its high-tech drivetrain, the Prius offers
comfortable accommodations for four adults. It's a little
smaller than most midsize sedans, but even tall passengers
have enough room in the rear seats. Top-notch interior
materials and a unique design give the cabin an alternative
look and feel, but all the amenities you would expect
are there. The Prius features an innovative automatic
climate control system that runs entirely on electricity.
This means the A/C will continue to cool even when the
gas engine is not running, such as at a stoplight. It
also features a humidity sensor and smart programming
so the A/C compressor runs only when it is necessary.
The benefit is that you can leave it in auto-mode year
round without worry of wasting any energy. The Prius'
hatchback design makes loading larger items into the cargo
area a snap, and with 16.1 cubic feet of space, there's
nearly as much room in the trunk as in a Camry.
The Prius is a legitimate family sedan that offers everything
you would expect from a Toyota -- like solid build quality
and refinement -- and a few things you don't -- like a
low base price. Add in the eye-popping mileage and long
list of standard features, and it's easy to see why the
Prius remains one of the most talked about cars available