Pros: Outstanding gas mileage, low emissions, generous amount of interior room,excellent build quality.
Cons: Less powerful and agile than other midsize sedans, real-world fuel economy .
The heart of the original Toyota hybrid car is a gas-electric drivetrain the company calls Hybrid Synergy Drive. In the Toyota Prius, the setup consists of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with an electric-drive motor that draws power from a nickel-metal hydride battery pack (mounted under the car's rear hatch area) -- together they make 110 hp. A second electric motor functions solely as a generator, recharging the batteries. The primary electric-drive motor can also rejuice the batteries, using energy recaptured during braking. It sounds complicated, but a simplified continuously variable transmission (CVT) deftly shuffles power between the sources, providing smooth, seamless operation from the Prius driver's point of view. The Prius' claim to fame is its ability to operate under electric power alone at low speeds, which contributes to its low fuel consumption. With a combined EPA rating of 55 mpg, this is the most fuel-efficient car on sale in the U.S. for 2007.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options.
A midsize four-door hatchback, the 2007 Toyota Prius hybrid is available in two trim levels: base and Touring. The base car comes with 15-inch aluminum wheels, automatic climate control, a six-speaker CD stereo, cruise control, a trip computer and steering-wheel-mounted audio and climate controls. The Prius Touring model adds 16-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, xenon HID headlights and foglamps.
As you'd expect, the Toyota Prius is no speed demon (zero to 60 mph in about 10.4 seconds), but when it comes to the kind of daily driving that most drivers encounter, there's more than enough power to get around. Driving a Prius takes some getting used to since it doesn't have a conventional transmission that shifts gears, but most owners grow to like the car's smooth power delivery. Cabin noise is minimal, and the suspension provides an acceptably smooth ride despite the car's weight-saving chassis components. Although the 2007 Toyota Prius would make a fine highway companion, the car really shines when driven in the city, where its light steering, tight turning radius and excellent visibility make it easy to park and maneuver through traffic. Additionally, the Prius often returns its best gas mileage in freeway gridlock, as it's able to spend more time in full-electric mode.