Tuesday I started calling around to different dealerships to see what my options were for a particular car, and to put my name on a waiting list. Surprisingly enough, the second place I called had almost exactly what I was looking for in stock (the "almost" was the interior trim color, everything else was what I wanted)... so I bought it. Meet the new toy:
It's a 2005 Prius with "super white" exterior paint, gray / burgundy interior (mostly gray), and option package #6.
At the moment, it has about 130 miles on it. :)
This is the first time I've ever bought a new car. I know that the money is not in my favor, especially with this car being in pretty high demand. (Stupid news stories about high cost of gas recently didn't make me any more confident of availability, either.) But the process was pretty painless, I paid basically MSRP+destination fee, and they didn't push the add-ons too hard. Still took four hours to complete the transaction, and I don't make so much money that the check for 31+k$ wasn't a bit of a wince.
But. New car! :)
It drives really well, and has some great geek toys in it (GPS+map, real-time MPG, steering wheel controls, "smart" keyless entry, etc etc). So far I'm averaging right around 40 mpg, and I'm told that will go up slightly after the break-in period. I look forward to taking it on long trips after that, as it is noticably thriftier on cruise control.
Hopefully this Prius will serve me just as well as the Subaru did.