The knockout punch?

Most people recognize the superior quality of Japanese cars and trucks from Toyota and Honda. Even Nissan’s made a big comeback after being acquired by the French company, Renault.And now, according to this article Toyota and Honda are bypassing Detroit again — this time on “green” hybrid car technology:

Toyota is trying harder than ever to make its hybrid Prius — totally redesigned for 2004 and due out in October — indistinguishable from ordinary, internal-combustion-engine cars and, therefore, to remove the sense in buyers’ minds that they’ll have to make compromises to own a hybrid.

To that end the new Prius has interior dimensions just shy of those of the Camry, Toyota’s best-selling sedan, making it quite large inside indeed.

Further, it gets even better mileage than the cramped first-generation Prius, a combined 55 mpg (city/highway) versus the 48 mpg of the generation-one model. The 2004 car will also feel fast.

Oh, and the price? Same as that of the current Prius, $19,995. Throw in the one-time federal tax credit of $2,000, not to mention the money you’ll save at the pump, and the Prius should make even committed fossil-fuel burners “green” . . . with envy.

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