So I bought a Prius earlier this year after dealing with the very frustrating people at Volkswagen who could not (or would not) fix my oil consumption problems with my 2006 Jetta 2.0T. In looking for a new car, my only criteria was something with at least as much back seat room as my Jetta for the carseats, and I definitely prefer leather or some other non-fabric that doesnt stain every time the kids spill something.
The two main contenders ended up being the 2008 Prius and the 2008 Accord. Configured with leather, they are both very similar in price. There were a couple deciding factors here. First, because my Jetta was so new, I lost a bundle by trading it. Second, I cannot stand oil companies and their record profits while we all suffer, and would do nearly anything to take that from them. Some calculations showed that buying the Prius would save enough per month in gas to make my monthly car+gas cost the same as the Jetta, even though the payment would be much higher than the Jetta. This really was the main tipping point, so I bought the Prius.
So, while there is a tendency to view Prius owners as tree-hugging hippies who sip capuccino while feeling better than everyone else, I think there are a lot of people out there just like me. I didn't buy the car to save the planet--I bought it to save money and screw the oil companies (with the happy side-effect of reducing gas usage and emissions).
I just don't understand the hate Prius-drivers get. Are the Hummer-driving soccer moms jealous? I can understand that not everyone can get rid of their current car to buy another one right now. But really, it's kind of annoying that as a nation we whine about spiraling gas prices while people continue to buy gas-guzzlers...