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Searches don't equal purchases, but there's a lot of interest in the Toyota Prius out there – if not quite so much as for iconic muscle cars with horses on them. Hybrid Cars notes that the Prius was the second-most-searched-for model on Autoweek this year, trailing only the Ford Mustang and coming in ahead of the Chevrolet Corvette.

While Autoweek readers tend to put more of an emphasis on speed and performance that green credentials, Hybrid Cars says the lofty ranking of the Prius reflects a car that's reached "cult status" in the US. With Toyota being the first to mass-market a hybrid, the Prius has become as much a personal statement as it is a way to combat both rising gas prices and auto emissions.

That said, US Prius sales, which have surged 81 percent this year, have dwarfed those of the Mustang. The hybrid was the best-selling car in California and through November, Toyota sold almost 217,000 Prius variants, including almost 135,000 of the standard hatchback and more than 32,000 each of the Prius V wagon and Prius C compact. By comparison, Mustang sales through November totaled 77,458 units, up 18 percent from a year earlier.

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