"Having driven this car for nearly 9 years, I can say with absolute conviction that it is the most reliable vehicle I've ever driven or otherwise been exposed to.
Acceleration is adequate, handling is very good, but the maneuverability is outstanding. Dead reliable. Towed only once for a failed Anti-lock Braking System sensor. All other complaints were quickly and easily corrected in the first three years under warranty. First set of brakes were replaced at 83,000 miles
Fuel economy for a five passenger sedan is surpassed only by later generation models. Summer fuel economy averages 47 MPG while in winter it declines to 40 MPG due to extended warmup periods and trailblazing snow-covered streets. Invest in snow tires if you live in the snow belt -- you trade greatly improved traction for noise and a slight decline in fuel economy.
As mentioned by others, the seats are not very comfortable for long trips, but my 6'5", 260 lb. frame fits nicely into four of the five seating positions. Trunk space is adequate for groceries and weekend trips but little more. The interior has adequately resisted the abuse of a family of four and two 60 lb. dogs. All accessories function.
The exterior shows rust ONLY where collision damage had been repaired years ago. Paint is bright and clear. Exterior trim remains where is always has been. The body is tight. It exhibits no squeaks, rattles or groans.
It isn't the most attractive vehicle, but it's cute like a puggle. A used Prius of this vintage is the PERFECT pizza delivery vehicle. It's cheaper than a new economy car yet remains as reliable. It delivers much better fuel economy than current econoboxes ever could in that type of driving.
I love it and will drive it until it retires."
"I bought a 2002 Prius used in 2005 and it is still my dream car. Extremely comfortable for 4 adults even though it looks small on the outside. Definitely fast enough to survive on freeways. I get about 45 mpg in the city and 40 with fast highway driving. Outstanding reliability. Only problem was one day my navigation system stopped working. Took it to the dealer and all they had to do was reboot / reinstall the DVD, which they did at no cost at all(this was not a dealer that sold me the car, by the way). One downside is storage: though the trunk is very roomy for a hybrid car, the rear seats do not fold down. Redesigning the Prius (in 04 I think) as a hatchback was a good idea. I put on a roof rack to handle any larger items, and I still get the milage I mentioned above. I would highly recommend this car to anyone and if it ever dies, I will replace it with another Prius without any hesitation."
"As Consumer Reports notes, realistic gas mileage is NOT as displayed on the maufacturer's stickers (standard EPA tests). I've average 43 mpg over 70,0000 miles. That about 60% city and 40% highway. Also highway is routinely better than city mileage.
It's seldom mentioned but I think it's important to note that the mileage display plays an important role in changing your driving habits. I drive slower; I drive more safely; I drive more fuel efficiently. Just because I can see the mileage change in real time I think about what I'm trying to achieve (get somewhere in time) and I routinely modify the way I drive to include fuel efficiency.
I'll never drive a lower MPG car again."
"We are the original owners of our 2003 Prius. It is an excellent spring, summer and fall car.
However, it's a lousy winter car in Wisconsin. To run the heater in the winter, it requires running the gas engine (instead of the nice balance of battery/gas engine) so the fuel economy suffers. Instead of the 48 mpg in good weather, the winter mpg is in the neighborhood of 36 mpg. And forget about performance on snowy or icy roads! It's awful! The light weight that is wonderful for fuel efficiency in good weather is a severe disadvantage in winter."
"Short trips, long trips, it doesn't matter. It is a real joy to drive! New Goodyear tires at 30,000, slightly oversized, really make the car hug the road in turns. If you don't exceed speed limits your mileage is excellent but if you insist on driving 75 mph or more and you really start to take a mileage hit. Even with gas prices above $3.00 I find that I consistently spend only 8 cents per mile for fuel. I find that statistic much more useful than tracking MPG. Purchased new in 2003 - zero problems. Always do suggested maintenance."