This may sound a little convoluted, so please bear with me.

I compared the Prius to the Subaru Legacy (of which I have owned two) the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry, since they are all considered mid-size mobiles. I work with people who currently own Camries and Accords. Camries have a base price of around $18K to $26K depending on options. Total price can be much higher. Legacy prices are similar, but I am not sure about Accord. The Prius base price is (was) $21.4K when I bought it. Therefore, my reasoning is that there is no premium to buying the Prius since the base Prius has a few more options than the base Camry. However, my comparison is based mostly on interior room. Check out the rear leg room of the above cars, and also Volvo, 3 or 5 series BMWs, etc and you'll find the Prius stacks up very well. Any car provides enough room for the drive and passenger, but many leave no leg room for the rear seat passengers.

Since there is no premium to buying the Prius, the (simple) payback to me is immediate. Obviously the batteries will make a dent in this reasoning, however I am willing to take that chance, especially with Toyota. And the way sales are going, I think I made the right choice. Also, since I have read a lot about peak oil (and have put my investment money there) I knew gasoline prices would keep going up. (I ordered my Prius when gasoline was about $1.50/gallon.) I also had the good fortune to know several Prius (Gen. 2) drivers before I ordered mine, and they were both getting 48-53 mpgs. So, I knew not to trust anyone telling me otherwise. Not everyone has that added benefit. Since I have always kept good gas mileage records for every car I owned, I knew the Camry (33 mpg highway), Legacy (28 mpg) and Accord would probably average out to 30 (26) mpg for me. So, I figured I would be getting the same quality car, the same utility, but better gas mileage, for no significant extra cost.

There are also many other paybacks to consider beyond what I pay for gasoline. By using less gasoline: I reduce demand for oil, I reduce pollution which reduces (the increase in) health care costs, I reduce global warming potential, which reduces (the increase in) global-warming related natural disasters, and I reduce the need for our country to try to forcibly take oil from other countries, and hold our collective noses while we negotiate treaties, business deals, etc. with people who dislike us, and we them. Most people will not see these paybacks in their own home economics, however, they are real and a state, region and especially the country will.

There are some towns in Texas (near the refineries) where 35% of the children have asthma! Think about how much that will cost us for the rest of their lives. What is the cost of the lost freedom these kids (don't) have because they can't run around and play as much as the other kids. And this doesn't even count the adults who now have asthma after moving to that area.

Companies don't care about these benefits since they just get contracts to drill for oil once we take over a country, and the US taxpayer pays for the security....more corporate welfare in my book.

Consumers have the ultimate control; we just need to learn to use it. We can save more energy my reducing demand, than we can find by drilling for it, or stealing it. It is now, and will be even more so in the future, cheaper to save energy than to buy it.