By KBB.com Editors
At the cutting edge of automotive design and technology, the Prius is propelled by a hybrid powerplant consisting of a battery-powered electric motor teamed to a gasoline engine. The two units can work in tandem or individually, allowing the Prius to earn uncommonly good fuel economy figures while producing extremely low (and, under certain conditions, zero of currently regulated) emissions. Unlike many fuel-efficient sub-compacts (in fact, the roomy Prius actually qualifies as a midsize sedan), the Prius can comfortably accommodate four adults, has a surprisingly smooth ride and can be loaded with such high-tech features as a rearview monitor and DVD navigation. For environmentally savvy families seeking to conserve both fuel and the great outdoors, the Prius is second to none.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're concerned about the environment, this car produces next-to-zero greenhouse emissions in stop-and-go driving. Speeds below 30-miles per hour are handled by the electric motorthe gasoline engine comes on only when you need more power or are driving at highway speeds. Nothing says "I'm Green" like a Prius parked in your driveway.You May Not Like This Car If...
Test drives have not achieved the claimed 60-miles per gallon city figure (our best numbers were around 45 miles per gallon). Long-term ownership costs are an unknown, as is the life of the battery pack and the cost to replace it.What's Significant About This Car?
For 2007 the Prius receives front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and front and rear side-curtain airbags. A new Touring trim debuts and includes a firmer suspension, 16-inch wheels, integrated fog lights and xenon headlamps.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Prius is a very technologically advanced machine that employs a 1.5-liter gasoline engine rated at 76 horsepower and a battery-powered electric motor that generates 50 kilowatts (67 horsepower). The Prius emits no sound when started. One simply pushes the start button, selects D from the dash-mounted shifter and depresses the accelerator. The Prius moves forward in utter silence because initially the electric motor is doing all the work.
As the Prius gets up to speed, the car's computer brain signals the gasoline engine to switch on, at which point the electric motor surrenders control in a seamless operation that is virtually undetectable. The differences between driving the Prius and a conventional gasoline-engine car are very subtlesilent acceleration from rest and gasoline-engine shutdown at stops.
The Prius's push-button starter is just one of the many futuristic features found inside the car.
Graphic Power Display
The graphic power display lets the driver monitor the interaction between the gasoline engine and electric motor, even when you can't feel it.