A new decontented Prius becomes America's cheapest hybrid

The cost of entry for Toyota's wildly popular Prius hybrid just got a little bit cheaper. Toyota announced on Monday that it would introduce a new "standard model" for the 2008 Prius which will start at $20,950 -- down from $22,175 for the previous base 2007 Prius.

The price cut effectively makes the Prius the cheapest hybrid available on the market. The crown was previously held by the Saturn Aura Green Line which has a base MSRP of $22,695 including destination fee.

There is no word on what features Toyota cut to drop the price by over $1,000, but possible targets might include traction control, heated mirrors and steering wheel radio controls.

The Prius wasn't the only Toyota hybrid to receive a price cut -- the company announced last week that the Camry Hybrid would receive a $1,000 price cut for the 2008 model year. In order to reach the lower $25,860 price point, Toyota ditched the leather steering wheel/shift knob, Homelink and JBL audio system among other things.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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