By Dan Shadwell
4:57 PM EST, March 9, 2011
Nationwide, sales of the Toyota Prius are up 27% just since last month. It's a popular model, but nowadays it's not the only one on the market. There are a lot more choices for car buyers looking for higher milage than there were even a few years ago.
It's still the baseline and last time gas hit $4, the dealerships couldn't keep up with the hunger for the Prius.
"We had over 60 orders that were hard to fulfill and we started looking out in the used market, trying to buy some used to fulfill the demand and even those were priced like new ones," said Zach Stahl with Butler Toyota in Indianapolis.
Stahl said the Prius turned the market on its head and with the spike in gas prices creating more demand, dealers are feeling confident again.
"In the seven years I've been with Toyota, it's the only car I've ever seen appreciate," said Stahl.
What began with the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight now extends to most auto makers, from small cars to full-sized sedans and SUVs, from low end to high end.
"We started out with one, now we have five and there's more hybrids coming with the Lexus line-up," said J.R. Hage, general manager of Tom Wood Lexus.
At the low end, the Honda Insight runs about $18,000 and gets about 40 miles per gallon. The Toyota Prius runs a little more than $23,000 but does the best of the bunch on gas. The Ford Fusion is right in the middle. Lexus models are also good on gas mileage. Lots of customers are also considering electic vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, which isn't available yet but we could be seeing a lot of them come later this spring.