Car of the Week - March 26, 2001

2001 Toyota Prius

In a very real sense, you may be looking at the future of the passenger vehicle market. Toyota's 2001 Prius, which has been on sale in Japan since 1997, is the first mass-produced gas/electric hybrid vehicle in the world. An aluminum 1.5-liter gas engine makes 70 horsepower at 4,500 rpm. Regenerative antilock brakes recharge the battery pack with each use, and if the electrical power completely depletes, the gas engine will help energize them.

Depending on how you drive, you can get anywhere from 45 - 75 miles to the gallon. With its 11.9-gallon gas tank, that gives the car a potential city range of at least 600 miles.

A single model is available, with stuff like air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cassette stereo, power windows/locks/mirrors, height-adjustable front seats, and 14-inch alloy wheels.

As we test drove this incredibly silent car, we were constantly stopped and asked by folks to tell them about the features and availability of the Prius. It looks like Toyota is going to have a big hit on their hands. And that's good news all around.

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