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I know back with the 'Classic' Prius, in order for a dealer to sell the Prius, they had to offer one as a rental. This doesn't seem to be true for the current Prius though.

As for my experience? I had test driven a Prius twice before buying mine. One was right after the '04 model came out, and was more of an 'out of curiosity' thing than from any serious intent to purchase. Then when we started looking for a new car in earnest, my wife and I went and test drove one together. I looked around seriously for a place to rent an '04 to take an 'extended test drive', but just couldn't find one. So I bought it after very little test driving. (Mostly for the same reason I'm sure most PriusOnline residents bought one, for the geek/green factor.)

My only other experience with dealer loaners was back in 2002, when my wife and I first got married, and were looking into a new car. We looked at a Prius, but weren't impressed with the classic model. We had settled on a Hyundai Elantra GT. I owned a Hyundai Accent at the time, and was happy with it. (Hyundais really are a lot of car for little money.) My car happened to have electrical issues at the time (since resolved happily; it was blowing various external light bulbs at the rate of about one a month,) and was in at the dealer for repairs. The dealer said that the repairs should only take one day, and I had the day off, so it wasn't a big deal to be without a car (Portland has an excellent bus system.) Well, I came in to pick up my car that evening, and the repair shop was already closed. I had been told over the phone that I could pick my keys up at the sales reception desk. Well, they weren't there. The sales receptionist tried calling the service manager, but couldn't get ahold of him. I was rather pissed at this point. I *NEEDED* my car the next day. I had that poor receptionist trying about five people at home, to no avail. While she was trying, the salesman I had been talking to over the past couple days about the Elantra GT called to see what the status was. I basically ranted at him about how horrible the service department is, and how I liked the Elantra GT, but the horrible service dept was turning me off on this dealership. (It was one that was owned by the same chain as where I bought my Accent, but it was a recent addition, still having the old dealer's name on the sign.) He called his sales manager, who was also not able to get a hold of anyone in the service dept. (Apparently the old service manager had just quit with no warning the day before, and it was chaos in the service dept.) So the sales guy offered (apparently without checking with his manager first,) to let me borrow the Elantra GT until I could get my Accent back. It was their only Elantra GT on the lot (it was a new, hot model at the time.) The next day, after work, I came by the service department, ripped the supervisor a new one, while complementing the sales staff. That night, I wrote a letter to the owner of the dealership (and to Hyundai USA headquarters,) about how helpful the sales person was, and how UN-helpful the service department was. That salesperson's actions convinced me to buy the Elantra GT from him. Sadly, the deal fell through because the dealer wasn't willing to lower the down payment by a measly $500 dollars. Within a week, my wife and I had decided to go ahead and pay the extra $500 up front, but I lost my job the same day. (I guess when the CEO said to 'speak your mind' he didn't really mean it.)

It ended up being lucky for us, because it meant we didn't get a new car. Which meant that we ended up getting the 2004 Prius a few years later.
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