Has the Toyota Prius become a status symbol?

August 4, 2019

This question turned up in my Quora feed, so I felt obliged to respond:

The Prius is a very recognizable automobile, but to the extent that the bulk of them end up as battered and grubby urban taxis, it’s hard to attribute the glamour to them that the term status symbol suggests. That is not to say that “Prius” does not have some important connotations. The car’s frugality and long life put it at one end of a choice-continuum which is balanced at the other by a short-life gas-hog like my Porsche Cayenne S.

Would a buyer gravitate logically from one to the other? Perhaps, if the buyer is of a certain elemental nature, determined to avoid the bewilderment of choices in the mushy middle.

If I’d had my druthers I would have bought a new Prius a couple of months ago to replace my Cayenne, but my less radical wife would have none of it. She did find a used Lexus hybrid acceptable, though, so that is what we bought.

But when I am alone in the car it’s a Prius to me, and like Walter Mitty I poke along down country lanes, happy in my own internal dialogue, eyeing the battery graphic and whispering “Pocketta-pocketta-pocketta.”

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