Before you buy a hybrid, please do yourself and America a favor and consider or at least investigate the main alternative to hybrids - a modern diesel car. I was dead set on getting a hybrid, but I had to back shelf it for awhile. Then I discovered VW TDIs (currently the only affordable diesels in the US, but that should change in a couple years), and realized they are a much better fit to my taste in cars, can match hybrids at mpg without sacrificing performance, and have enough cool new/different technology to satisfy my interest in technology. Hybrids are great, but are in no way the only solution. Check out tdiclub.com. Oh, and VWs have great crash ratings...
Ok, I'm done trolling... :D
I'm afraid that the addition of an electric motor just plain makes things better than gasoline or diesel and the more electric power, the better.
Prius gets great marks for safety from Insurance Institute Highway Safety crash tests.
Note that the side impact tests are not weight based so the Prius beats the Dodge Ram for safety in side impact.
I start with the IIHS crash tests for car shopping. It's a war out on the roads and no reason to be a casualty.
As I was saying before I rudely pressed the wrong button!
Although other drivers treat you differently, I remember that I used to get about 25MPG, and if I put my foot down in anger this reduced.
So now I get the last laugh when Pick-Up's and SUV's pass me in anger, as I know that it cost them a gallon jsut to vent their frustration!
It's all good fun in the end, and the Prius is pretty safe anyway.
I've heard most of VW's quality issues have been much improved of late, and also that the diesel VWs didn't have nearly the issues that the gassers had.
VW and Mercedes won't be the only diesel players for long - Honda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Audi, etc. are all planning diesel models for the US, to arrive 2008 and shortly thereafter. Exciting I say.
However, because of its smaller NiMH pack and 20HP motor, The HCH-II cannot sustain the EV mode for as long as a Prius II can.
FYI, I own a Prius and and two HCH-II's.
^^^I totally hate the myth held over from the previous HCH design that we can't go into full EV mode. I think it is perpetuated by owners of other hybrid manufacturers who's experience is limited or dated. It's good to hear someone who owns both cars put in their 2c. +rep from me for this above posting.
I force the car into EV mode every chance I can when it is appropriate. I can go 100km/hr+ and as soon as I hit a bit of level or downhill highway I force it into EV and my fuel efficiency goes thru the roof. I have held this for 10-15 kms on long slight downhill grades.