Toyota Prius Owners Hanging In

It has long been Toyota's darling. It's the most successful selling hybrid on the market, and it's easy to see why. Its drivers are fiercely loyal, some of them famous.

Rick Nosic and his wife bought a Prius in 2004, eager to save on gas.

"I was getting tired of paying through the nose," Nosic said.

Despite all the negative press Toyota owners have faced recently, Nosic has stood by his Prius.

Communicating via Skype recently as he sat in the front seat of one of the two Prius cars he now owns, Nosic said he is not worried.

From his parked car, Nosic, a paramedic in Chicago who has arrived at the scene of plenty car accidents in his day, showed his gas pedal, free and clear of the floor mat, which was cited early on as a possible cause of unintentional sudden acceleration. His mat has been replaced.

Problematic Prius Cars

In the past decade, more than 800,000 Prius cars have been sold in this country. To date, the federal government has received at least 151 reports of sudden acceleration in the Prius.

But that hasn't shaken Nosic's confidence, despite wishing that Toyota had a clear answer, he said.

He also said he feels alone defending his car. "You wouldn't believe the number of people making jokes at my expense, saying to me, 'Oh, boy, you really have to be careful about driving.'"

Then there's the other side: the owners dealing with what some people have dubbed "car repair anxiety."

Every sound, every bump sets off a trip to the dealer for nervous owners after Toyota's many recalls and problems.

Mary Ross Cox, a university administrator from Pennsylvania, e-mailed saying she would like to return her car, a Prius she bought four months ago.

Cox doesn't feel safe in a car that, she said, lunges forward at times when she brakes.

"I would be quite happy if they just took the car and gave me my old one back," she said

Anxiety-Producing Prius

But the Toyota dealer declined. She plans to get the brake fixed in the recall announced by Toyota on 2010 Prius models.

"Now you've got this anxiety that many of them are feeling," said Karl Brauer, editor in chief of, an auto-information provider. "If there's the slightest sound or behavior that seems out of place, they feel like they want to go to the dealership. They don't want to be the next person on the news, driving out of control."