From AutoWeek: 2005 Toyota Prius: Third-quarter update The Great Divide: Prius lovers are steadfast, but the haters grow more passionate by the day NATALIE NEFF Published Date: 4/25/05 THIRD-QUARTER MILES DRIVEN (quarter/to date): 5269/13,613 FUEL MILEAGE (quarter/to date): 42.27/42.29 mpg FUEL COST (quarter/to date): $248.52/$630.85 DAYS OUT OF SERVICE: (quarter/to date): Five/five MAINTENANCE: Torn visor, burned-out headlamp (warranty); recalibrate ECU, reinstall hood seal (warranty); 10,000-mile service, including oil change, tire rotation, cabin and engine air filter change ($148.02); fender flaps and bumper repair ($334.59) Seems its charm has worn thin. Minus a couple notable exceptions, most of the staff has grown weary with our long-term Toyota Prius, whose empty promises of otherworldly fuel economy have all but lost the battle with our desire to actually enjoy the act of driving again. We started out with high hopes for the car, too. After a fairly positive experience in 2001 with our long-term Honda Insightâ€”a limited-use two-seater with meager cargo capacity that managed an impressive 52.61 mpg for close to 15,000 milesâ€”we figured the four-passenger Prius hatchback could only do better. Problem is, we raised our expectations of hybrid performance over the last four years. We would happily trade in some efficiency for a little more performance, or vice versa. Itâ€™s called striking a balance, and in this way the Prius simply falls short. Most on staff feel if we have to endure such wretched driving dynamÂicsâ€”numb steering, terrible handlingâ€”the least the Prius should do is deliver on a promise of super-duper fuel mileage. The EPA pegs the Prius for a combined 55.6 mpg; that we are getting 42.29 mpg year-to-date means the Prius ainâ€™t cutting it. Any diesel Volkswagen can do that and still be a hoot on the highwayâ€”as well as offer the same utility as the hatchback on the Prius. Or, as one particularly persnickety editor puts it, â€œIâ€™m a driving enthusiast. Thatâ€™s why I do this for a living. Thatâ€™s why I like cars. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve read car magazines since I was eight. [The Prius] certainly goes fast enough in legal terms, but if you like driving, this thing offers no reward whatsoever. None.â€ Of course the dissenters remain steadfast in their affection for the Prius, and to its credit, the Toyota has treated us well from a reliability standpoint. We encountered mostly minor problems during our third quarter with the car, including a torn visor and burned-out headlamp, both of which Toyota repaired, to our pleasant surprise, under warranty. The car had two recalls addressed, one to recalibrate the ECU, the other to reinstall a leaky hood seal. We also took the car in for its scheduled 10,000-mile service call, which included an oil change, tire rotation and cabin and engine air filter change; that set us back $148.02. However, a month later one editor had an unintended and unfortunate encounter with a raccoon (â€œnot very environmentally friendly of me, I knowâ€), which rendered the front fender flaps and bumper in less than intact condition. Repairing the damage cost $334.59â€”and five days without the car. Weâ€™re not complaining about a whopping five days sans car; we should be so lucky to have any long-termer give us such little grief. But a recent drive of a Honda Accord Hybrid forced us again to examine our relationship with the Prius: The Honda not only delivers decent fuel mileage, but is the most powerful Accord in the lineup. Thatâ€™s a balance we could live with.