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2013 Toyota Prius Quietly Saving the Planet >

Reducing greenhouse gases. Cutting down our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Saving the planet. There are lots of reasons to feel good about driving a 2013 Toyota Prius. But let’s be honest. Squeezing 50 miles or more out of one gallon of gas is, as Toyota likes to say, oh what a feeling! But there’s more to the Prius story than just great MGP. A lot more. Let’s start by pointing out the many trim levels and options available to us in the Prius family.

If you want to go small while reducing your carbon footprint, you can opt for the Prius C three-door hatchback, and enjoy even bigger fuel savings. If you need more space, you can go with the larger, boxier Prius V, which offers more headroom plus big cargo hauling capacity with rear seats folded flat. But for most hybrid car shoppers, the size of the regular Prius feels just right, with seating for up to five grown-ups; plus it’s available in five different trim levels, so there’s one for every personality.

All standard Prius models share the same powertrain — a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine coupled to a pair of electric motor/generators. This is the magic technology that delivers an EPA estimated 51 MPG city / 48 highway. Of course, you’ll likely not get many speeding tickets in your Prius. It takes about 10 seconds for the Prius’ 134 horses to giddy up from zero to 60 MPH…but hey…nobody buys a Prius to do burnouts or blow other cars off the line, right? Overall, the Prius is a fun and easy driver — maneuvering nimbly in and out of traffic — and parking is a breeze.
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All Prius models come equipped with a sweet list of standard features — like automatic climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, alloy wheels, 60/40 split folding rear seat, and much more. But we tested the top-of-the-line Prius Five, which was adorned with even more cool, convenience and luxury items. The Advanced Technology Package included Adaptive Cruise Control, a Lane Departure Warning System, a Pre-Collision Alert System, Advanced Voice Recognition and Hands-free phone System, an upgraded Navigation display, an awesome 8-speaker JBL sound system, and oodles more!

The Prius’ optional Appearance Package is a must. It beautifies the body with sexy exterior accessories like 17-inch alloy wheels and a seven-piece aerodynamic body kit. Our tester also had fog lamps, and LED headlamps with built-in washers. If you like luxury and technology features, Toyota offers infinite ways to personalize your Prius. Choose SofTex Synthetic Leather upholstery or the available solar-powered ventilation system. Toyota’s Entune System provides real-time traffic, weather, sports scores, plus a suite of Apps that can hook you up with Internet based services, such as Pandora, iHeart Radio, and Open Table via your smartphone? Yep there’s all that and more.

Here’s one more reason to feel good about driving a Prius. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Prius the highest possible rating of “Good” in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. All 2013 Prius models come with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag.

Photographed, test driven by Christina Selter and her dogs Betty & Princess