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Toyota's Prius: Worthy Of Its Popular Praise?

2007 Toyota Prius
AP
2007 Toyota Prius

If you are in that group of people sick and tired of hearing about the popularity of the Toyota Prius, click off this page. Do it.

I won't be offended and based on the e-mails I get here at Behind the Wheel, I know there are a lot of you who think the Prius is praised too much. Well for you folks, what I'm about to tell you is true. It's not part of a conspiracy theory by the "anti-Big 3" American media. It's a fact that will make you realize the Prius' popularity is legitimate.

Today, the Power Information Network released its monthly list of the 10 fastest selling models in showrooms. Once again the Prius made the list. It's not #1 (that would be the Lexus LX) but the Prius is again in the top ten. So just for kicks, I asked Tom Libby at the Power Information Network how many times Prius has been the fastest selling model since it's debut in late '03. Tom says for the 52 months since it's debut, Prius has been #1 33 out of 52 months. Think about that! More than half the months Prius has been on sale, it's been the fastest selling car in the country.

I bring this up because the latest surge in gas prices will likely fuel greater demand for the red-hot gas-electric hybrid. Even though there are more hybrids hitting showrooms from other automakers, the Prius remains the gold standard. Heck, Toyota sold 181,221 Prius' last year (up 69 percent) to make it the 8th best selling car in the U.S. So when it pops up on the "Hot off the lot list" this is not a limited production model popping up because of a small spike in demand.

2002200320042005200620072008
JanuaryMDXPriusPriusISCR-VLX
Februaryn/aPriusPriusPriusG ClassLX
Marchn/aPriusPriusZ4CR-V
AprilSLPriusPriusC70Fit
MaySLPriusPriusPriusFit
JuneSLPriusPriusPriusCR-V
JulyQuestPriusPriusSkyPrius
AugustSLPriusPriusPriusR32
SeptemberES330PriusPriusPriusEnclave/Prius
OctoberXC70n/aPriustCPriusEnclave
NovemberSLPriusPriusPriusVersaEnclave/C-Class
DecemberM3PriusPriusxAC70Enclave/Prius
Source: Power Information Network
Note: Models on the market four months or less not included

The point is this: if you thought the Prius was a fad that would eventually lose its mojo, think again. In fact, as gas prices move up close to $4.00 a gallon, I wouldn't be surprised if the Prius once again becomes the fastest selling model in showrooms. I know, the inbox is about to be filled with those who will tell me I've bought into the "Toyota mumbo-jumbo" about hybrids. Oh well, I need a fresh supply of e-mails.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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