The newest version of the Toyota Prius, introduced in 1997, beat out 26 new or significantly reengineered models from nameplates such as Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Volkswagen to be named 2004 Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine. "The Prius is a capable, comfortable, fun-to-drive car that just happens to get spectacular fuel economy," said Motor Trend editor-in-chief Kevin Smith. "It also provides a promising look at a future where extreme fuel efficiency, ultra-low emissions and exceptional performance will happily coexist." Motor Trend editors said the Prius is capable of providing 60 miles per gallon in city driving and cited it as the first such hybrid to move into the automotive mainstream. They said the car is spacious enough to be classified as a midsize sedan. The newly designed Prius hit U.S. showrooms in October. Toyota expects annual sales of the next-generation hybrid car to top 35,000. U.S. sales last year were 21,193. The base price for the car is about $20,000.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials