Pros: Solid, quiet, comfortable, very good fuel economy, cleanest gas powered car of its day
Cons: OEM tires wear out early at manufacturer's recommended pressure.
When the 2001 Prius was announced, I wasted little time putting in my order. My previous two cars, Chevy Sprint and Geo Metro, both got 50 MPG, so I was excited when Toyota announced the Prius. Finally a solid 4 door sedan that broke the 50 MPG barrier.
I've now had the Prius for 6 years and 70,000 miles and still have nothing but good to say about it. While my average fuel economy has been in the mid-40's in mixed driving, I've experienced 50+ on longer trips.
What really impressed me from day one was how solid, quiet and comfortable it is, especially for a car it's size. This was especially noticeable when I got a loaner Corolla while it was in the shop to correct the power steering problem that affected the earlier Prii. That and a problem with the 12 volt accessory battery are the only two times that the car has been in the shop for anything but routine maintenance.
This is a very nimble and highly maneuverable car. It has an extremely tight turning radius (comparable to the tiny Honda Insight), making it extremely easy to park and turn around.
A lot of owners have complained about the OEM tires on the Prius. Mostly that they wore out early. I found this only to be a problem if the tires were kept at the recommended pressure, which seems to have been mostly given to provide a softer, quieter ride. The ideal pressure is a good 5-8 PSI higher than the recommended pressure. I've gotten more than the rated wear at this pressure, with more secure handling.
I'm extremely happy with the quality and reliability of the Prius, which my Mother now drives. My mother-in-law now owns a 2002 Prius, which she bought on my recommendation and is now the car my in-laws drive by choice because of comfort, handling and ease of parking it provides.
Since buying the 2001, my wife and I have also bought a 2004 Prius and Highlander Hybrid. Both highly recommended.