Depends on how strong the demand is in your area...
Unless you HAVE to get your Prius today (and you're willing to pay an "availability surcharge"), you should not pay more than MSRP. (Go to http://www.toyota.com/prius with a flash-enabled web browser and use the "Build and Price your Prius" link under "Shopping Tools" to see what option packages are available in your region and their MSRP.)
I'd suggest calling several dealers in your area. Some might be willing to give some small amount under MSRP, but... MSRP is about the usual price to expect.
Bare bones about twenty thousand and taxes plus delivery. With all the options including Nav Pak about 26,500 and well equipped with most of the desirable goodies 23,500. These are MSRP. Don't get itchie and pay more. Make some phone calls and find the dealer with the shortest list. If you will accept any option package and color you can probably get one in three weeks. (Unless you are in L.A.)
I'll say it again. Region management determines which packages to bring in as part of standard allocation. However you are not bound by the region's standard allocation packages.
Since paying MSRP is about standard and you probably won't be able to get much below it, your goal is not so much to find a dealer that will get you a price below MSRP, because frankly there are few that will, but the goal is to get the package and color you want. A motivated dealer will do a swap inside their allocation with another dealer, or do a lot search to get you exactly what you want. No need to ever compromise on a purchase that is this large.
Jeromep: I inquired abut swps between dealers, ans was told I'd have to pay the transportation cost for the swap. It was prohibitively expensve for an isolated state like NM.
I seem to have a choice between large dealerships that have long waiting lists and dealerships that may only sell 10 Prius a month. My understanding is the dealerships can request what they want, but may get a variant decided by the factory. So the smaller dealerships may get me in line fr a car quicker, but I am likely to have less choice in package combos & color. The larger dealers should have greater choice in package combos.
I have a feeling that the smaller dealers will have more difficulty selling a car if I turn it down than the large volume ones in high demand areas. The small dealers seem much more concerned with being stuck with a rejected car or cancelled order. So it would be in their interest, perhaps , to work harder to make sure I get the car I order.
Anyone have thoughts on hhis, at I have to decide where to place my deposit(s)?