"I truly love my Prius.. I have no major issues with this car. There are a few things you should consider before buying one (any year).
Child car seats make putting your seat all the way back difficult (mainly a rear facing infant seat). If you have two car seats, no one could sit in the middle of them comfortably. Two rear facing infant seats and you have to pull front seats all the way up for someone to get in to back middle seat.
The gas mileage IS great. It cost me $17.50 @ 1.79 a gallon to fill and I get about 38 to 41 MPG. I believe newer models are better MGP wise.
I have a 2002 and have had it for 6 years now. The black on the windows tends to get rusty, you have to take care of it. My paint is still great, interior so-so (I have children), and all controls inside still working. 108,000miles on it now.
Test drive it - Really! Hybrids make lots of noise when 'on' and if you are not use to them, it can scare you when they are 'off' at stop lights et.
Once you have one you will not want to lose it!!!"
"I agree with the other reviewers: this Prius is surprisingly roomy, and very reliable. The only downside is styling, there is nothing fancy about this car. Unless you consider the standard LCD screen, which most people riding in my car for the first time think is super high-tech. I've gotten an average of 36-42 MPG over the last 5 years, and I drive aggresively (hard starts and stops) and use the A/C a lot. The car has held it's value very well, and has spoiled me with everything I get to take for granted: riding in the carpool lane by myself, great gas mileage, no car repair bills, 6-CD in-dash player.
I love the tight turning radius, the few blind spots due to the generously-sized windows, the easy to read center-mounted digital speedometer, and the roomy cockpit."
"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."
"I bought this car new, just before the 2nd generation came out. Perhaps I should've waited a few months, because having a hatchback and all would be great. However, the 1st generation has done a brilliant job. I'm still getting 50 mpg and have had very few maintenance issues. Very very happy!"
Cons: "Numb steering, cvt, potential for expensive repair"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fill in the blank above, but the Gen 1 Prius is great fun. There are multiple reasons to love the car, and no need to wonder why this brand continues 15 years later to dominate the hybrid market. The overall engineering design and computer integration of the hybrid system is awe-inspiring. Almost seamless transition back and forth between pure electric and engine-assisted operation. I smile when I hear people talk about 41 mpg. I averaged 54 to 65 mpg every tankful for 8 years. My girlfriend and son got as "low" as 48 mpg in Alaska on the hills to town and back. I guess their mpg results could be called the lower 48 !
I bought the car as a two (model year) old used car with 60k miles and drove until 140k miles in 8 years. 60k in less than 3 years by the original owner is a lot, and presumably were mostly highway.
Reliability - Look at the brand name. Great reliability is their norm. I did have the Big Red Light (serious hybrid system problem indicator - Don't Drive) illuminate at 99,000 miles. Dealer analyzed, reset system, no charge. Hybrid system warranty was 10 yr/ 100k. Extreme cold weather caused occasional problem codes which always went away within minutes. The car preferred Florida where I had bought it.
Economy - In town, it all depends on the driver. The system is great and a little effort can yield 30% to 50% better economy than EPA numbers. On the highway expect 110 mpg minus your speed; easy enough to figure, huh? (note: headwinds and tailwinds affect highway mpg at almost 1:1 ratio.) In town, anticipate the traffic and be smooth for 55 to 65 mpg. I understand that 2010 and later models have the modern equivalent of a vacuum gauge to aid in visualizing what's happening as a result of your accelerator foot technique. Not surprisingly, mine still had the ORIGINAL brakes at 140k.
Driving dynamics - Frankly, it is numb. Buy a second car if you want the race car kind of fun. Used [insert little Japanese 2-seater, if you get my drift] should do it for you.
Interior - the cloth interior must have had magic regenerative powers, too. Either that, or elves came and changed out the upholstery when I stored it for the winter. The folks who bought the 10 year old car from me commented that the seats and carpet looked new. I have no explanation for that. Quality shows over time,I guess.
I loved the car. Just bought another 2003 with only 80k miles this morning as a present for a college student. I'm hoping she will get as many smiles from her Gen 1 Prius as I did. And write her own review, but maybe not waiting 10 years to get around to it."