Pros: Excellent gas mileage, cool technology, it's a Toyota, green cred
Cons: People don't respect you in traffic, it's not a plug-in
First of all, we bought this car in 10/2008, at just about the wrong time.
Gas was still $3.50 per gallon, the waiting lists were still four months out, and we were happy to find a loaded Prius that someone had decided not to buy. We paid MSRP. The following week, all the news about bank failures and credit default swap obligations came out. A month later, gas was below $2 a gallon and all of a sudden, you could get a Prius for thousands less. To add insult to injury, the state of Utah introduced a $2500 tax credit for hybrids, but only for vehicles purchased after 1/1/09.
That said, we love the car. My wife is a Realtor who specializes in green and energy efficient homes, so it's almost a requirement that we have a Prius.
We get around 50 mpg when the weather is warm, and average closer to 43 mpg during the coldest part of the Salt Lake winter. I'll be curious to see what happens during the hot months still to come.
I'm amazed at how much torque the electric motor adds when driving up our steep mountain roads. Little Cottonwood Canyon is the road to Alta and Snowbird and I got about 37 mpg round trip when driving that road in the winter. I was able to drive the Prius up that canyon as fast as I wished to (and I do like to drive fast). I-80, the road to Park City, runs up Parleys Canyon - and I can keep a sustained 75 mph up the steepest part of that freeway, with bursts of power for passing, as long as the battery still has some charge in it.
That's not normally the way I drive - I usually like to make a game of keeping the average MPG as high as possible, to the point of infuriating my passengers sometimes.
We only have 7,000 miles on the car so far, so we can't judge reliability, but we did wait to buy the Prius for a long time. We wanted to see how they would perform after 200-300K miles and 10+ years, and the results looked really good, so we jumped in. We also chose the 2009 because the model was in its sixth year of production. I expect there will be some bugs in the 2010 model, even though it is a Toyota.
My wife actually *hated* the Prius the first time we rented one on a trip, back in 2004. I'm a technophile, so I thought it was the height of cool. We both liked the gas mileage, so we kept renting them on trips. Eventually, she grew to love the car, and she was the one who ended up making the big push for the Prius when it came time to buy a new car.
I think now is an ideal time to buy a 2009 Prius!