By KBB.com Editors
At the cutting edge of automotive design and technology, the 2009 Toyota 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. Offering as much head and legroom as a mid-sized Camry 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 minimal greenhouse emissions in stop-and-go driving. Speeds below 30 miles per hour are handled by the electric motor – the gasoline engine comes on only when you need more power or are driving at highway speeds. Nothing says "I'm Green" like a 2009 Toyota Prius parked in your driveway.You May Not Like This Car If...
If saving money is as important as saving the planet, you can buy a Toyota Corolla for a lot less money and still get pretty good fuel economy and low emissions. The Prius' long-term ownership costs are an unknown, as is the life of the battery pack and the cost to replace it.What's New for 2009
There are no major changes for the 2009 Toyota Prius. An all-new model is due out in 2010.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2009 Toyota 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 subtle – silent acceleration from rest and gasoline-engine shutdown at stops.Favorite Features
Although offered on more and more vehicles at all price levels, push-button start still qualifies as one of our favorite features.
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.