The Toyota Prius is the quintessential hybrid. It was the first and is still arguably the best hybrid on the market currently. So, how do you make it better? By adding a plug-in charge option? Well, it depends. In a place like Chicago for the majority of people, it's not going to make sense because of the access needed to a plug. The other downer, cold weather does not add to the efficiency in any way. I had a friend in temperate Califorinia who owned one, and he said he only got 10 miles to the charge. Hardly worth the $8,000 premium, if you ask me. Did it drive differently? No. Did you have less cargo volume? No. Do you get pretty darn good fuel economy without the plug-in charge? Yes. I averaged 47 mpg without trying too hard, and that's more than any other hybrid I've driven recently, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Ford C-MAX Hybrid. So, my advice: Go with the regular Prius, and spend the extra money on a vacation somewhere warm. Seriously. When is spring getting here?
PS: Looking for a green car? Check out my "Green Guide" on the Chicago Tribune website.