Here are some pics of my new 2005 Toyota Prius.
This is Toyota's second generation Prius. I liked my first generation 2002 Prius so much that I went back in May to trade it in for a new Prius. I figured that because of high gas prices and a typical 8 month wait for a new Prius that I should go in early so I could get onto their list. I had the color and package already picked out and was just expecting to put down some money to get on the list. Much to my surprise they had one of the exact color and package coming in in a week! So I went for it knowing that the trade-in value of my 02 Prius would only decrease in time especially as more of the second generation Priuses hit the used car market. About a week later, I had my new car.
I'm very impressed so far. The "gearshift" is not a mechanical linkage, but an electronic control. It's a little like the shifter in an arcade game. After you change gears (though in the Prius you dont actually change gears technically) the shifter snaps back into it's default position. To park the car you just come to a stop like you normally would and then press a separate Park button that's right above the shifter. I wouldn't be surprised if Toyota eliminates the shifter entirely in the Prius in a few years.
I like the larger rear window that the 02 Prius has, but I like the position of the lower window in the 05. Because of the shape of the back of the car it makes it much easier to gauge your distance from objects.
It also feels like the 05 has a good deal more power than the 02 and is also quieter. I found myself accidentally going 55-60 when it only sounded like I was going 40. They also improved the gas mileage. According to Toyota it gets 60mpg in the city and 51mpg on the highway. I find myself getting approximately 45mpg between my highway and suburb driving. This is while driving it like a normal car. If I eased off the gas more often and put more effort into it I'd likely end up around 50mpg. This 45mpg is still better than the 40mpg I typically got with my 02 Prius.
When you put the car into reverse there's an internal tone that beeps to remind you you're in reverse. Well, if my car's in reverse then it's because I put it there! ...so I promptly turned that off using one of the arcane Prius programming techniques. Fortunately this one didnt require opening and closing the car door 6 times.
The 05 Prius I purchased comes with a smart key system. This consists of a small transponder about the size of a pack of Tic-Tacs. When you get within range of the car the car waits for you to grab the handle. Once you do it disarms itself and unlocks the door. While sitting inside it also allows you to just press the Power button to start the car. Yes, the Prius has no ignition key. Those without the smart key just have to insert the transponder into a port on the dashboard before pressing the Power button. I also wish there were some way the smart key system could automatically LOCK the door as well. It would be nice if I just had to close the door and walk away and it would automatically lock. In order to lock the car using the smart key system you have to push a button on the outside door handle. Pushing the button is only a minor inconvenience, though. If you try to lock the car with one of the doors open however you get an annoying 10 second tone outside of the car (at least when you use the smart key system, I don't know what happens if I use the remote to lock the doors). With the 02 it would just do nothing.
The longer I own this car the more I appreciate it. I bought the car with the package that includes a 6 cd in-dash changer. My old car only supported 1 cd at a time. This is much nicer since I dont have to fuss with changing cds while driving. Also most of the important controls are right on the steering wheel and each of them has a different feel to them so it becomes very easy to find the button you're looking for without having to take your eyes off the road. Especially great is the hatchback with the folding rear seats. I have to transport a whole lot of computer equipment from time to time and I dont even have to give a second thought as to whether it will all fit. Being able to do just about anything I need to do with this car makes me very satisfied. The electronically tinting rear view mirror makes driving at night a lot more comfortable. If only the side mirrors were auto tinting, too, I'd be set!
Despite the Prius being a more popular car now, whenever I tell people about it they always ask whether it has to be plugged in. The Toyota Prius, like all other hybrids currently on the market, does not need to be plugged in. When you apply the brakes or stop accelerating the car uses one of its motor/generators to charge the hybrid battery in what's called regenerative braking. Like using engine braking in a manual transmission it helps slow down the car without needing to use the brakes quite as much. If the hybrid battery runs low it will also spin up the engine to help charge the battery. As an aside, the hybrid battery needs to retain a certain level of charge since its responsible for spinning up the engine (instead of a separate starter motor like most cars have).
If you're curious about the Prius and have any questions, feel free to email me and I'd be more than happy to help.