Pleasing Prius

Reviewer likes car, thinks it's worth the wait, but seems confused on NiMH battery chemistry and Prius' electric motors causing smog.

Published: 07-Feb-2005

If I'd known that I'd be driving through a blizzard, the eco-friendly Toyota Prius wouldn't have been my vehicle of choice for the trip to the Grand Canyon and back. A surmount-any-obstacle Hummer might have been more appropriate.

But there I was, sandwiched between two hulking semis, slogging through a foot of snow in the only lane of Interstate 40 outside of Williams, Ariz., still travelable. The Prius just soldiered on with barely a slip or a slide, thanks to front-wheel drive, standard traction control and my test car's optional stability control.

The hybrid gasoline/electric Prius is a remarkable automobile. Heaven only knows the precise thought process of the typical car buyer, though legions of marketing MBAs have attempted to figure it out. Emotion, particularly in car-cuckoo California, plays a huge role. The Prius, however, offers several uniquely rational reasons to buy:

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