New Hybrid Cars Deliver Fifty-Plus MPG

With gas prices on the rise again, the new Toyota Prius is getting lots of attention. It's a gas and electric hybrid car, and interest is picking up considerably after the President's State of the Union address and last week's hike in gas costs.

"I think as a whole, everybody knew where things were going," says Andrew Bertrand, sales consultant for Classic Toyota of Tyler. "And that's why they're looking to alternative vehicles or at least saving some money in gas."

The car has good power, and doesn't need recharging. Other than a display, there's no way to tell when the car switches from gas to electric. And at 52 miles to the gallon, you could fill up and drive to Topeka, Kansas, without stopping. The Prius has already been in use for over a year with the city of Tyler.

George Baker, a fleet administrator for the city, says "One of these cars has actually been to Arkansas and back, we've had no problems out of it."

The traffic department uses two of these cars, and although there was initial apprehension, there's no problems now.

"Oh, they love them," Baker says. "The resistance has really diminished now that they've seen them and ridden in them."

The Prius is obviously a different kind of vehicle, so it comes with not only an income tax credit, but also a comprehensive service plan to make sure if you buy, you'll be taken care of.

"This is just the launch pad," Bertrand says. "That's why Toyota stands behind this product so well. They've got to make sure everybody feels comfortable with the product and with the future."

With hybrid deisels and SUV's on the way, Toyota hopes the Prius is not just a novelty, but a trailblazer.

Reid Kerr ( reporting.