Tag - Prius

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Around the middle of my third day driving the Prius c Buy Prozac Without Prescription, , I realized the car had won. It had succeeded in turning me into the equivalent of one of Pavlov’s dogs, dutifully following the throttle-based energy monitor’s screen until I had achieved sufficient “eco” status while driving, real brand Prozac online. If I was really good, Prozac interactions, I’d even trigger EV-only operation. Much salivating commenced.

As a bit of a lead-foot, Prozac gel, ointment, cream, pill, spray, continuous-release, extended-release, I never expect to get anywhere near manufacturer-rated mileage estimates for whatever car I’m driving. If I’m lucky, I’ll average just above a car’s rated “city” figure, Buy Prozac Without Prescription. Prozac use, The Prius family, and particularly the city car-sized “c”, breaks driving down into a more basic element: not stop, Prozac without prescription, not go – just metering out of energy. Prozac maximum dosage, Whether that energy comes in the form of gasoline or the car’s on-board battery pack depends on your driving style and travel patterns. If you’re tooling around town at low speeds, with an optimally charged battery, Prozac blogs, you might see half your travel time occur on battery power alone. What is Prozac, That’s an empowering figure, and one that draws many a customer to Toyota’s doorstep. Buy Prozac Without Prescription, But for car enthusiasts, there’s not as much pleasure to be found in eking out every last mile to the tank as there is in burning around corners and masterfully executing a heel-and-toe downshift. None of that matters to the Prius c, where can i buy cheapest Prozac online. Its mission is to get you to your destination with a slightly fuller wallet than you would have after a trip in almost everything else on the market today. Prozac no rx, It’s an econobox of the most pure form. That isn’t to degrade the car; it’s just a statement of fact. Everything about it screams economic sense and sensibility, a quality that’s recently come back in roaring fashion, Buy Prozac Without Prescription.

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Design/Interior:

Toyota did a pretty good job of melding the design language of the regular Prius line and the Yaris hatchback on which the c is loosely based, buy no prescription Prozac online. Both the front and rear end slope away from the roof toward the ground, Buy Prozac from mexico, forming a fully curved roofline and enabling the lozenge shape that so aids fuel efficiency. It’s not a bad looking shape on our tester’s 15-inch alloys, although the severely pinched rear end limits visibility out of the backlight, order Prozac from United States pharmacy.

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Inside, Purchase Prozac online, the Prius-meets-Yaris theme continues, with a center-dash digital gauge “cluster”, traditional gated shifter on the floor, online buying Prozac hcl, and simple radio and climate controls. Buy Prozac Without Prescription, I found it easier to work with this car’s interior than that of the traditional Prius, preferring the floor-mounted shifter to the Prius’ joystick-like controller, and reveling in the absence of that car’s reverse warning chime. Prozac canada, mexico, india, The multicolor digital gauge display also appears better executed in the c, although I’d still prefer it if it was directly in front of the driver instead of canted off to the side. Interior space is quite decent considering the car’s miniscule footprint, comprar en línea Prozac, comprar Prozac baratos, handling four adults with relative ease for an hour at a time. Prozac natural, Road noise is noticeable though, with excess sound deadening tossed out in favor of keeping the c’s weight (a paltry 2,500 pounds - 500 pounds lighter than the standard Prius) down, get Prozac.

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Powertrain:

Like its bigger brother, Buy cheap Prozac, the c features an inline-four cylinder engine mated to a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and AC electric motor, driving the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission, though all the power-related bits are slightly downsized relative to the Prius to take into account the c’s smaller and lighter stature, order Prozac from mexican pharmacy. The four-cylinder is a 1.5-liter (plucked from the original Prius) rather than the larger car’s 1.8L, and together with the more compact batteries and electric motor, hum to the tune of 99 total system horsepower and 82 lb-ft of torque, Buy Prozac Without Prescription.

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Driving experience:

Though the Prius c is svelte at the scales, Low dose Prozac, there’s no getting around the fact that its power-to-weight ratio is equivalent to sticking a 198-horsepower engine in a 5,000-pound truck. Acceleration requires mindfulness and planning, is Prozac addictive. Also in the back of your head is the understanding that mashing the accelerator to keep with the flow of bustling interstate traffic will also cut into your combined fuel economy figures. Prozac australia, uk, us, usa, Like I said before, Prii have the ability to change even the most hardened car tester’s driving habits. Buy Prozac Without Prescription, I know this, because although my week in the car heavily featured 70 mph highway driving, a scenario in which the Prius c sucks down fuel with no respite to catch its breath on battery power, I still achieved a 45 mpg average.

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Value:

All Prius c models have the ability to deliver this kind of exceptional fuel economy, Prozac photos, because they feature identical running gear. Japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, At a $19,875 price of entry, the Prius c One still brings buyers all the niceties one would expect in any new car, Prozac pics, including automatic climate control, Prozac over the counter, power everything, Bluetooth streaming audio and iPod connectivity. Shelling out a grand more for the Two brings a six-speaker stereo, after Prozac, different seat fabric and more adjustability for the driver, Purchase Prozac online no prescription, a 60/40-split folding rear seat (in place of a one-piece folder on the base car), cruise control and an armrest. The $22, purchase Prozac for sale,560 Three adds color-keyed door handles, Prozac recreational, a touchscreen audio system with Navigation and Entune app suite, voice command and a smart key system. Our $25, doses Prozac work,103 Four tester had every option except the proverbial kitchen sink thrown at it, Prozac used for, including SofTex pleather trim, heated seats, 15” alloy wheels and foglights, Prozac no prescription.

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As an economical city runabout or an entry point into the Prius brand for a potential first-timer, Rx free Prozac, or perhaps a family that wants to add a smaller member to an existing Prius fleet, the c serves as a solidly recommendable spendthrift.

 

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2013 Toyota Prius c Four

Base price: $24,220

Price as tested: $25,103

Options on test car: Rear bumper protector ($89), Carpet Mats/Trunk Mat ($399), Moonglow white paint ($395)

Powertrain: 1.5 Liter 4-cylinder VVT-i engine w/ Hybrid Energy Drive System, CVT transmission – 99 horsepower combined output, 82 lb-ft torque

S:S:L-observed MPG: 45.1 combined

Toyota provided the vehicle for testing purposes and one tank of gas. Photos by the author.

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Prius6-600 Wellbutrin SR For Sale, Since its introduction, Toyota’s Prius has strived to be many things to many drivers – from fleet workhorse for taxi operators, to buck-stretching commuter car for normal working slobs, to eco status symbol for the planet-savvy or those who just aspire to be. About Wellbutrin SR, Now, with the Plug-in Hybrid model, Wellbutrin SR samples, Wellbutrin SR no rx, the Prius aspires to be…a Chevy Volt. Well, where can i buy Wellbutrin SR online, Real brand Wellbutrin SR online, not really, but that’s the general concept: provide a full electric option for owners that have access to a wall plug, order Wellbutrin SR online overnight delivery no prescription, Wellbutrin SR brand name, and a gasoline motor for everyone else. I spent a week with one to see how it fared in everyday commuting and city travel, Wellbutrin SR use, Wellbutrin SR from canada, and to see whether a plug-in hybrid is any use at all to a condo/apartment dweller without regular access to a garage wall outlet.

I’ll preface this by once again reinforcing the fact that during my time with the Prius, Wellbutrin SR treatment, Order Wellbutrin SR from mexican pharmacy, I did not have access to a wall outlet to charge it. I did, however, stumble upon a local supermarket with an electric car charging station, Wellbutrin SR For Sale. In my metro area, buy Wellbutrin SR without prescription, Wellbutrin SR results, charging stations aren’t all that prevalent, limited to about a dozen installed by the city and a few dozen more by privateers in select areas, Wellbutrin SR recreational. Where can i order Wellbutrin SR without prescription, Over seven days and 400 miles, I encountered exactly one, Wellbutrin SR description. Buy Wellbutrin SR from canada, During the 25 minutes spent charging at this particular 240V source, I garnered 3.5 miles of electric-only driving; nearly enough to travel back from the market to home, Wellbutrin SR photos. Buy generic Wellbutrin SR, Prius5-600

Using a 4.4 kW-hr lithium-ion battery pack as opposed to the 1.6 kW-hr nickel metal hydride unit on offer in the standard car, the Prius Plug-in charges quickly and depletes that charge even quicker, Wellbutrin SR schedule. Wellbutrin SR For Sale, Standard 120V wall outlets will top off the Plug-in’s battery in around three hours, and on 240V that time is halved – a useful savings over the Volt’s four hour minimum on high-power, and 10-16 hours on 120V. Buy no prescription Wellbutrin SR online, A full battery in the Prius will take you 11 miles on electric-only power, but during those miles you’ll probably need to dip into the gasoline engine’s 98 horsepower on at least one occasion simply to get out of another driver’s way, is Wellbutrin SR safe. Generic Wellbutrin SR, Forward progress in an electric-only Prius is far from stately. But, online buying Wellbutrin SR hcl, Where can i find Wellbutrin SR online, if you can avoid crazed traffic, you’ll be whisked silently from village to dell in relative comfort, purchase Wellbutrin SR. Wellbutrin SR alternatives, The air conditioning system has no trouble keeping the cabin cool in whichever drive mode you’re in, an important factoid if you live in a humid southern state like this author does, where can i buy cheapest Wellbutrin SR online.

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Our “Advanced” package tester also came with a host of goodies seemingly designed to help you drain that battery power just a bit quicker – LED headlights, premium navigation with Entune, “SofTex’’ power heated pleather seats, radar cruise control, a collision warning system and a heads-up display are all included in the $7,525 package price tag, Wellbutrin SR For Sale. Is Wellbutrin SR addictive, Couple that to an MSRP already inflated by $7,845 over a base Prius, Wellbutrin SR overnight, Purchase Wellbutrin SR online, and the Plug-in suddenly appears to be a very pricey way of shouting one’s eco-consciousness.

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Especially when you consider that the Plug-in drives much like every other Prius ; it’s a fairly unobtrusive device that dissects the most basic aspect of driving – getting from point A to point B – and serves up exactly that function in the most efficient way possible, Wellbutrin SR gel, ointment, cream, pill, spray, continuous-release, extended-release. Australia, uk, us, usa, Far from being a hypermiler, I still averaged close to 50 mpg during the Prius’ week-long stay with me, Wellbutrin SR trusted pharmacy reviews, Wellbutrin SR interactions, and that was with just a single three-mile jaunt on wall-provided electric power. The rest of the time, where can i cheapest Wellbutrin SR online, Buy Wellbutrin SR no prescription, the Prius was doing its thing with the battery, electric motor and gasoline engine to provide me with just enough “go” to get me where I needed to be, Wellbutrin SR cost, Herbal Wellbutrin SR, and not a drop more.

Prius9-600 Wellbutrin SR For Sale, Now, for the enthusiast driving subset that frequents S:S:L, there’s not a lot of joy to be found in that last paragraph. But as we all know, Wellbutrin SR pictures, the motoring public as a whole simply doesn’t care that much about lateral –g and steering feedback, by a pretty vast majority. And if you look past its design roots as a vehicular appliance, you can still extract a modicum of real-car pleasure where you least expect it. Though wholly devoid of feel, the Prius has a pleasingly quick steering rack, and coupled with a fairly flat cornering attitude, it can make tight freeway off-ramps and decreasing radii corners honest points of interest – especially as you’re trying to balance the fine line between tire scrub and pure-electric power. Finding that delicate balance becomes its own reward after a few miles behind the Prius’ compact helm.

The overwhelming sense I got during my week with the pricey Prius wasn’t one of cynicism – it was an understanding that for a select group of buyers, the Prius Plug-In actually makes a lot of sense, Wellbutrin SR For Sale. And truthfully, that rational mindset is the one the Prius as a brand has appealed to all along. Much like the cab operator, the budget-savvy commuter and the greeny fashionista, the urban dwellers whose commutes are often short and terminate with charging provisions at both ends will find the Prius Plug-in Hybrid to be the perfect complement to their lifestyle. It also provides all the upscale tech you could ever want in a wrapper that won’t raise any eyebrows – although other Prius drivers that haven’t yet acclimated to the plug-in concept might look on lustfully at the sight of your Prius tethered to a nearby wall.

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2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Base price: $32,840

Price as tested: $40,365

Options on test car: Advanced package ($7,525)

Powertrain: 1.8-liter 4-cylinder + 4.4kWh Li-Ion battery; 134 combined system horsepower

Toyota provided the vehicle for testing purposes and one tank of gas. Photos by the author.

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Avoidable Contact #36: The culture wars gave Toyota a license to kill.

Are Toyotas really accelerating without warning? It's hard to say, since it's been years since I saw any Toyota besides a Tundra even keep up with the normal flow of traffic. The Camry is the official car of the left-lane hog, the chosen transport of that woman ahead of you who ABS-locks her brakes for a yellow light and then won't enter the intersection for a left on green. By and large, Toyotas are characterless cars purchased by fearful, fretting nebbishes. Twenty years ago, Toyota ads screamed "OH WHAT A FEELING!" but today's Toyota ads are naked appeals to terror of the unknown. Do you clutch your organic-fiber blanket in bed at night and roll around shaking, dreading the day when your car requires service or --- gasp! --- maintenance? Toyota has the car for you. Corolla! It's for cowards! Oh what a feeling!

If the average Toyota buyer is afraid of her own shadow and worries about automotive catastrophe constantly, surely the prospect of UNINTENDED ACCELERATION RIGHT INTO A FLAMING WALL OF DEATH should be enough to keep every Camry in the United States off the road, right? Well, that would certainly be the case, except for one little thing: there is a force that motivates the average Toyota fan or purchase far more than fear, and that force is pure, blinding hatred.

Some of us have seen this movie before. When General Motors introduced the "import-fighting" X-body in late 1979, the car seemed to have it all. The Chevrolet Citation and its platform mates had spectacular packaging; the five-door X-body is approximately the same length and width as the Prius, is significantly shorter, and has greater passenger volume. This, from a car developed in the mid-Seventies. Weight was well under control: the X-bodies all weigh under 2500 pounds and some are as light as 2250. Fuel economy was stellar: adjusted for modern ratings, the four-cylinder X could make 31mpg on the freeway, with a four-speed, direct-drive-fourth-gear transmission. I would even argue that the X was a handsome car, particularly in two-door hatch form.

X-body sales were well over the three-quarter-million mark in 1980. It seemed General Motors had finally found the lever with which to move the compact-car world. Unfortunately, the X-body had a serious safety problem. The rear brakes locked-up under the slightest provocation, causing the cars to loop out of control in normal driving conditions. GM knew it was a problem before the cars entered production but chose to not address the issue, something which later on cost them a lot of money in jury awards and federal fines.

People died in X-car collisions. Quite a few people died in them as a result of the brake defect; we'll never know how many because thirty years ago crash data was often uncollected, particularly in rural areas. After a toe-in-the-water 240,000-car recall, the Feds eventually ordered GM to recall over a million cars to address the issue. A series of lawsuits were resolved in GM's favor by a Reagan-era government. I'm copying the Center for Auto Safety's paragraph on the decision verbatim here for the reader's enlightenment; while I am no fan of governmental interference, I think this was a case where a little more of it might have been warranted.

On April 14, 1987, nearly four years after suit was filed and over a year after trial ended, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas P. Jackson issued his decision, ruling for GM on all counts before the court. No recall would be ordered because the government had failed to define precisely what was wrong with X-car brakes. The thousands of complaints from X-car owners were dismissed as "anecdotal"; the internal memos in which GM's own experts attacked the car's brake performance were merely evidence "that brake engineers have yet to devise the infallible braking system." In his opinion Jackson chided the government for coming "into court with nothing more, essentially, than a reasonable suspicion, without the evidence to prove it."

Once the public found out about the X-car brake problems, the Citation, Phoenix, Omega, and Skylark became unsaleable showroom filler, eventually piling up to the point that GM had to bury them all in the same desert where Atari buried over one million "E.T." game cartridges for the VCS system. Oh, who am I kidding? People still bought the X-cars. The Honda Accord was a better mousetrap, and it didn't kill people by putting them backwards into lampposts, but Honda couldn't dream of selling their little car in the kind of volumes enjoyed by the Chevrolet Citation right up to the bitter end. Why?

The answer is simple. The Accord was "Jap crap" and the Citation was a decent American car, built by good old General Motors. It seems hard to believe today, but thirty years ago people actually gave a damn about their neighbor having a job, and they really gave a damn about purchasing an American-made product. To the average American of the year 1981, today's consumerbots and their blithe willingness to pay thousands of dollars for products made in China by people earning a dollar an hour and killing themselves to avoid going back to work would be all but incomprehensible. Therefore, they bought Citations over Accords, even though they were risking their lives by doing so. Risking your life to guarantee your neighbor a job, even if your "neighbor" was hundreds or thousands of miles away! Hard to believe, eh?

General Motors had a lot of goodwill with people back then, but in the years that followed they cheerfully burned it all to the ground. By the year 2000, the GM badge was synonymous with "crap" for most Americans. Too many bad products, too much corporate indifference, not enough quality. The reasons are too numerous to detail here.

The Citation buyer of 1980 probably didn't think of himself as a "Citation man". He would have described himself as a former Marine, a union laborer, an economics professor, or a dancer for the Chippendales. Again, it's hard to believe, but people in this country used to identify themselves primarily on career, family affiliation, or community standing. The past thirty years have seen many of the concepts regarding "community", family, and career utterly implode in the United States and elsewhere. (The book Bowling Alone was an early discussion of this change.) We're now "product people". The average twentysomething is likely to be more passionate about his membership in E46fanatics.com or NAGTROC than he would be about his status as an American or a "cube monkey", and he will tell you that he is an Apple owner before he tells you that he is a Christian or an agnostic.

This change from community to product affiliation has had some interesting effects on how we view people who purchase products different from our own choices. I'd like to excerpt a few passages from a recent Boston Globe article about the Prius. Some are from the author, others are from the commenters on the online edition. It may not be immediately apparent which is which:

"Prius, the brilliantly engineered hybrid that created a popular car category the dunderheads in Detroit are still trying to match."

"...the fools who invested your tax dollars in a failed auto company called General Motors"

"(GM is)... a company that paid workers (lavishly) not to work, and cranked out gas-guzzling SUVs while the planet was on fire"

"Detroit’s also-ran car companies are fanning the anti-Toyota flames in the media"

"I bought a Prius not only because it's a hybrid car but a car made in Japan... If Toyota decides to make Prius in the US, I think my next car will be either Honda Insight or Nissan Leaf."

Of those five comments, the first four were actually part of the Globe article. Note the venom, the personal anger, but also note that these rather personal and angry comments were published by a paper of record in the United States. The author is a Prius owner, but he doesn't talk about the virtues of the Prius. Rather, he talks about how horrible Toyota's "enemies" are. A quick wallow through Internet commentary by Toyota owners shows that the talking points of Toyota ownership are reducible to just two, summarized below:

  • Toyota owners think the cars are pretty reliable. When Toyotas break, it's probably the fault of the owners.
  • American manufacturers are planet-killing murder corporations headed by thieves and secretly owned by BP. They are also chock-full of fat, lazy, blue-collar people who drink crappy beer, own televisions, believe in Jesus, faint in church, own JetSkis, screw their cousins, shop at Wal-Mart, scratch their genitals in public, divide their leisure time equally between frothing hysteria regarding NASCAR and the WWE, jack their trucks up ten feet off the ground only to have their morbidly obese asses sag them back down to street height, vote for Bush, deny global warming, and wear mesh-backed baseball caps without any sense of irony whatsoever.

Ownership of a Toyota isn't just a choice to buy a relatively cheap and usually reliable automobile; it's a salvo in the Kulturkampf, that great culture war that has come to define American politics and life. Honda and Nissan owners tend to talk about how great their cars are, but Toyota owners tend to talk about how lousy American cars are. They are buying the cars not because of what they are, but because of what they are not.

And thus we see why it simply doesn't matter how many people are killed by unintended acceleration, real or imagined. It doesn't matter how many Tundras rust out, how many Tacomas break in half, how many MR2s ingest their intake manifolds and blow up, or how many $75,000 Lexus sedans either stall for no reason or adjust their steering wheels ninety degrees out of whack during an auto-parking maneuver. Speaking personally, I think the average Toyota is a reliable car, at least as reliable as the equivalent Ford or Honda, but that's irrelevant. Once passion and hatred enter the equation, nothing else matters but those emotions.

For many Toyota buyers, coming back to the domestic fold, or even choosing an alternative Japanese car, would be an admission of personal defeat. The Citation buyer in 1982 wanted to support America; the Camry buyer in 2010 needs to support his own ego, his own choices, his own self-image. I'm willing to bet that many of the episodes of unintended acceleration in Toyotas are never reported, for the same reason that new iPad owners can become rather angry when you question their purchase.

It's all quite laughable, actually. I feel very superior to Toyota owners, primarily because I'm a Porsche owner. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to sacrifice a fatted calf to the ghost of Ferdinand Porsche in hopes that my Boxster doesn't lunch its engine at Monday's track event...

Avoidable Contact #30: Prius is very iPad! Prius is real luxury! HS250h is more like a Sears Tele-Games! You’ll buy anything!

"...is going to buy whatever Apple unveils today, right at 5pm, no matter what it is." --- Seen on Facebook, January 27, 2010 As I write this, it has been fourteen hours since Apple's Steve Jobs revealed the iPad to a crowd of cheering followers, er, customers, this morning. For what it's worth, I'm in no way impressed with the new iProduct. I've been working with Apple systems since I hacked up a "worm race" program for the Apple ][+ back in 1982, and I am writing this column on a 24" iMac, so I'm very far from being anti-Apple --- but this new tablet doesn't do it for me. Not that Mr. Jobs would care. As a company, Apple is very far from being the hacker-friendly maker of expansion-slot-packed beige wedges I knew as a child. One could argue that Apple isn't even really a computer company any more, insofar as they don't devote a lot of attention to making computers. Instead, Apple is a producer of design-centric goods which offer little more utility than their competitors while commanding significantly higher prices. Hmm... I think that means that Apple is a luxury brand. Don't you? After all, "luxury" doesn't necessarily mean Brioni suits, megayachts, or any of the verses from Carly Simon's "You're So Vain". Rather, a luxury is simply something that one does not need, but that one wants, often for no other reason than the social standing or perceived prestige associated with the item. Luxury, in other words, is something that offers a boost in self-image and image within a community. The iPad will be a luxury item. Nobody needs an iPad. The functionality of the iPad doesn't justify the price. There are cheaper, uglier, more drab devices that provide about the same utility for less money. I would suggest that most iPad purchasers will be people who identify with the Apple brand and its cultural associations. If iPads were invisible, or if they looked exactly like Dell laptops, they would collect dust on the brightly lit Apple Store shelves. Instead, they will fly off those shelves and into the hands of people who want to be seen with the "right" product. Regardless of price. Regardless of function. Regardless of utility. Image is the key. And that is why the Toyota Prius is a successful luxury product. It's also why the Honda Insight has cratered in the market, and it's why the Prius spinoff, the hopelessly dumpy HS250h, is utterly doomed. I can see your lips moving. "What? A $23,000 hatchback with a battery pack is a luxury car? Are you kidding?" Now waiiiiiiiit a minute. I didn't say that the Prius was a luxury car. I said it was a luxury product. There's an important distinction between the two. I've written quite a bit about the traditional luxury car and its uncertain fate. I'm a devoted student of velour seats, Landau tops, and crystal hood ornaments. What we're discussing here, however, has nothing to do with Cadillacs or Camargues. Luxury cars are primarily purchased to convey the impression of wealth, and although the Prius has stellar demographics, it's not just a car for the wealthy. Middle-class families buy them. Fixed-income retirees buy them. Feature for feature, a Prius is no more expensive than a Camry. On the other hand, by that same feature-by-feature yardstick, a Prius is much more expensive than a Hyundai Elantra, and that's where the issue of "luxury" comes in. The actual mathematics of the so-called hybrid tax are too involved to get into here, but I think it's fair to say that nobody has yet convincingly argued that Prius ownership is as economically sensible as Elantra ownership, at least not in a world where gas sells for two or three bucks a gallon and replacement battery packs are far from cheap. No, people don't buy the Toyopod for financial reasons. If you asked Prius owners why they made the choice to buy their car, I imagine you would hear a lot about the environment, sustainability, reducing dependence on foreign oil, blah blah blah. That's all crap. I know that's all crap because the Honda Insight is rusting on dealer lots as we speak. That's right. The Insight is nearly as efficient as the Prius, is just as reliable, and sells for less --- but nobody wants one. And if you think the Insight is a marketplace failure, look at the car rusting on the lot next to it, which is probably a Honda Civic Hybrid. If you want to know if the Civic you are examining is a Hybrid, look for the two telltale signs: disc-like polished aluminum wheels, and thick, dusty cobwebs between those polished wheels and the fenders surrounding them. Nobody buys Civic Hybrids. Nobody bought Accord Hybrids, either. They are (or were, as the case may be) good cars, but they are not Priuses. When I think of the current Insight, I think of the many "all-in-one" computers introduced in the wake of the original iMac's roaring success. There was a time when every computer manufacturer on the planet made an all-in-one, from the now-defunct Monorail to Dell. Most of them had far more computing power than the iMac, even if they suffered from the clunky Windows OS of the time. And they all cost far less. But none of them had the sheer magic design or peerless pedigree of the iMac, so they failed. Nobody wants to be seen with an imitation iMac. The iMac is associated with "cool" people --- designers, freelancers, artsy folks who live in San Francisco and bicycle to work. Imitation iMacs are issued to corporate drones in dank cubicles in order to compete the destruction of their worthless souls. Which end user would you rather be? I thought so. Over time, that perceived coolness spread to the rest of Apple's insanely great lineup, and it's now a self-fulfilling stereotype. Hipsters buy Apple products because they are cool, and those products are cool because they are used by hipsters. Simple as that. If you want to know how Apple's core demographic views the people who buy imitation Apple stuff, try pulling a Microsoft Zune out of your pocket in the middle of People's Park. You will be lucky if the gentle, loving souls around you don't kick your flyover-country ass all the way back to Wal-Mart. Cool people don't want uncool people around them. The uncoolness might be catching, and it's a real bummer anyway, man. So if you want to be cool, you'd better be prepared to pay the Cupertino Tax, because the cool people all pay it without hesitation, and the cool people are buying Apple. What comes next will be tough for some of us to accept. Take a deep breath, then read this next sentence. The cool people out there are buying the Prius. No, they aren't "cool" in the Steve McQueen sense of the term. Many of them are actively frightened by everything from trans fats to mild thunderstorms. I've never seen a Prius in a rap video, and I've never seen anybody driving one who looks like they could bench their own salad-starved weight. We all know the stereotypes about hybrid drivers, and these stereotypes are, frankly, usually true. If James Dean were here, he'd flick his cigarette in their lemon-sucking, tobacco-averse faces. Unfortunately for me, and for many of you, this ain't 1955 any more. Kids aren't having fumbling, terrified sex in the back of hopped-up Chevrolets; they're creating shot-by-shot remakes of gonzo porn in their own rooms, surrounded by iMacs, the Internet, and their amicably-separated parents' indulgent approval. Hot, sweaty, bad-ass speed is for old men and white trash. The cool kids don't want cars, and if they have to have a car, they want it to be one that is as un-car-like as possible. Which means buying a Prius, and paying extra for the name and the design. They have no problem paying extra for a name and a design, because most of them have been doing it ever since they got their first iPod. If all you want is an economical, affordable car, Hyundai and Kia have you covered. If you want a greenwash on that, Honda would love to sell you an Insight. Really, they would. Call today. There's a deal. I promise. But if you want the right look... if you want to be associated with the right people... if you want the same sense of ironclad consumer rightness that every iPad owner in North America will have, then you need to buy a Prius. Nothing else will do. If you buy an Insight, you'll have to explain why you didn't buy a Prius. People will ask you if you own a Zune. If you buy a Civic Hybrid, then some self-righteous woman in cat-eye glasses will stop you in the university parking lot and tell you that your sports car is killing the environment. If you buy a plain Corolla and save seven grand, the word will spread that you stole the car from your fresh-off-the-boat Pakistani roommate. Don't bother to "think different" here. Put an iPod and an iPad in your Prius and relax, knowing that you are just as unique as everyone else in your social group. And if your parents tell you that they are considering a Lexus HS250h, for the love of the God in which your yoga teacher professes not to believe, stop them. Tell them about the Sears Tele-Games. You see, back in 1977, the Atari VCS game system came out. They called it the 2600 later, but to begin with it was just the VCS. It was cool and every kid had to have one. Sears wanted in on the action, and they were in the habit of re-branding things, which is why you can still buy a KitchenAid microwave with "Kenmore" on the door. So they took the Atari VCS and relabeled it as the "Sears Tele-Games". Loving parents brought Tele-Games consoles home to incandescently furious kids. "WHAT THE HELL, MOM! THIS IS NOT AN ATARI!" "The man at Sears said it was the same, and it plays Atari games." "DOES IT SAY ATARI ON IT? MOMMMMMMMMMMMM!" The Lexus HS250h is a Prius with a trunk. It costs ten grand more, and although it has a nicer interior than its cousin, the Sears Tele-Games had cool-ass burl walnut trim and it still sucked, so be aware. Worst of all, it doesn't say "Prius" on it, which means you will have to explain to everybody why your parents hate the environment. Don't buy one. Nobody's buying one, which is why Lexus is leasing that model for just about free right now. Toyota is learning the hard way what Honda, Ford, and GM already know. "Hybrid" is a pretty meaningless badge. It's the "Prius" one that counts. Amazingly, Toyota is going to capitalize on this success by drafting in a smaller "Prius" in a year or so. We saw it as the "FT-CH Concept" in Detroit. It's a hell of an idea, and I know it's a hell of an idea, because Apple already had it. It was called the iPod Nano. Look for the little Prius to be as hot as the Nano. And the likely success of the iPad makes me think there's room for a bigger, more expensive Prius in the future. Not as a Lexus, but as a Prius Plus. In the space of a few years, "Prius" has joined Apple on the List Of Perfect Brands. I think you will be able to buy all sorts of Prius-branded cars in the future. But if what I saw today is any indication, don't expect them to come with, er, complete plug-in capability.

Speed:Sport:Life First Drive: 2010 Toyota Prius

In the foothills of Tucson's Mount Lemmon, Toyota's public relations staff delivered Utterli tragic news: a driving impression embargo would preclude live video microblogging coverage of the 2010 Prius. Crushed, I resolved to hike the mountain in the Prius anyway. Now that the embargo has passed, here are a few excerpts from my notes. The Prius's silhouette may be contentious, but two points can't be argued: the aerodynamic shape serves its purpose well, and anything is a welcome alternative to typical Toyota anonymity. Unfortunately, that blandness has crept into the Prius's front fascia. Toyota's corporate slit-and-nub grille has been grafted onto the Prius, which offers little differentiation from the Corolla or Yaris from head-on angles.

Toyota pushed the roofline peak aft to increase headroom for backseat passengers. The new roofline's funky bump gracefully cascades into a refined kammback. Standard energy-efficient LED taillamps integrate nicely with the functional rear spoiler in a handsome evolution of the Prius's rear quarter.

Interior volume has increased, and is now within eight cubic feet of both the Camry and Fusion Hybrid. The Prius's lack of ecologically-conscious upholstery and use of traditional petroleum-based seating foam may turn off some greenies, and the mostly staid interior design leaves only one thing to talk about: the Touch Tracer-actuated Multi-Information Display. Touch Tracer is Toyota's name for touch-sensitive steering wheel controls replicated on the dashboard's top tier. The redundancy is intended to keep drivers' eyes on the road while scrolling through trip information screens. Like all Toyota and Lexus hybrids, the fancy dash lacks a tachometer. The monotone green display must be a tribute to Tron -- the antiseptic graphs can't compare to the Fusion's focus on design. Judge for yourself:

Unfortunately, Toyota's corporate navitainment head unit is nestled into the Prius's dash. Drivers must choose between having radio presets at hand, displaying song and artist information, or displaying the navigation map. The world's best systems share screen real estate -- this interface is so poorly executed that the volume bar is not even skinned.

What makes the Prius livable are its on-road dynamics -- and we're not yet talking about fuel economy. To my shock and surprise, the pre-production Prius I drove was outfitted with an electronic power steering system with genuine weight. Every snaking segment leading to the summit of Mount Lemmon revealed an incredible truth: the Prius does not suffer from vapid wheel feel. Not once during the admittedly gradual 8000-foot climb did the Prius's battery assist run out of grunt. The third-generation nickel-metal hydride system obviously works hard to recapture every possible electron during regenerative braking and coasting -- and the proof is in the MPG. Federal estimates say the Prius can travel 50 miles per gallon in mixed driving. As always, your mileage will vary. Dan Bryant's sure did. The president of the Houston Hybrids and Hypermilers' Club achieved 90.6 miles per gallon in the new Prius -- one full mile per gallon more than the previous-generation car. To read his impressions, check out the EcoLLC.com blog.

During the pre-drive press briefing, Prius marketing director Doug Coleman said that the new Prius faces two major adversaries: the global economic downturn, and the aggressively priced Honda Insight. Coleman's almost militant frankness could very well suggest a brewing price war. Any battle for hybrid supremacy will benefit green-minded buyers -- and a truly affordable Prius could sway Camry buyers away from the beige and bland once and for all. Here's hoping. [nggallery id=12]