The Toyota Prius has put in its time as the benchmark for hybrids and fuel efficient vehicles on American roads. For Scott Burns, it's put in time as a family car as well, and one he's been incredibly happy with.

Burns, writing in the Houston Chronicle, says owning a 2003 first-generation Toyota Prius for the past 10 years has been smooth. (The larger, iconic second-edition Prius was launched as a 2004 model a few months after he purchased his). He calls it "a practical companion," and notes that even after 115,000 miles on the odometer, the metallic green Prius will live on with his 16 year-old granddaughter.

The Prius has only needed one expensive repair. It's been trouble-free over the years and has handled whatever road conditions it's been subjected to. While naysayers have voiced worries about the life of the Prius battery, the pack is still going strong. He's met several other Prius owners who've never replaced the battery and put a lot more miles on it.

While the second- and third-generation Priuses are known for getting 45-to-50 miles per gallon, his car averaged about 43 mpg. He estimates saving about 1,000 gallons of gasoline in the Prius compared to a comparable size non-hybrid, saving about $3,300 in the past decade.

Ten years later, Burns notes there are a lot of appealing hybrids on the market today, such as the Ford C-Max, which is larger and more fun to drive than a Prius. There's also a lot of high-mileage, cheaper small cars out there - which have become the Prius' strongest competitor. The Burns family is buying a new Honda Fit Sport model. It may not get 40-plus mpg, but at $20,000 it costs about $10,000 less than most hybrids - and he figures that will buy a lot of gasoline. Read his whole article here.


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