Reviews of the 2010 Toyota Prius are popping up all over the web, and the verdict is in: This thing really does get better mileage, and it's very hard NOT to get at least 40 mpg.

The EPA rates the 2010 Prius at a combined 50 mpg (51 city / 48 highway), but the consensus is that if you work hard at it, 70 miles per gallon is entirely possible.

Our own mileage today, on two separate mixed runs over 50 miles in Orlando, Florida, was 44.6 mpg in standard mode. When we restricted the car to Eco mode, which reduces the car's performance for the sake of fuel conservation, we got a whopping 59.9 mpg.

That Eco mode really makes a difference, though we had to get comfortable with an occasional dirty look from a truly impatient driver. The Prius isn't a speed demon to start with, but the Eco mode lengthens the acceleration time to any given speed. We'll wait for track tests to tell us exactly how much extra time it costs you.

On both runs, we didn't try particularly hard to maximize mileage--with the exception of a couple of miles in EV Mode, which runs the 2010 Prius solely on its battery at speeds up to 25 mph. In that case, we were able to raise the average mileage from 59.2 to 59.9 mpg within about a mile.

We wrote previously that Marty Padgett, over at TheCarConnection, managed to achieve 69.5 mpg in a mileage competition among journalists at an event in Napa Valley.

Even better, our colleague Bengt Halvorson says, "I got 72.3 mpg, taking it really easy but not blocking traffic too much, and about 47 mpg in aggressive stop-and-go, which is 4 to 5 mpg better than the current car."

With a little coaching from chief engineer Akihiko Otsuka, our friends at HybridCars.com racked up 75.3 mpg--handily beating the Napa group's average of 69.9 mpg.

Over at the Detroit News, Scott Burgess took a different tack: He did everything he could to get the worst possible mileage. In an unusual review, he talks about beating the car "into submission". And he still got 26.8 mpg, even while gunning the engine, playing with every electric accessory, and even keeping the windows down to increase aerodynamic drag.

As usual, one note about gas mileage: Remember that it's not a linear scale, so increases in MPG can be deceptive. After a certain point, ultra-high mileage saves you very little money.

Raising your own fuel economy from 41 to 50 miles per gallon only saves you 0.44 gallons every 100 miles you drive. So if you drive 10,000 miles a year, we're talking an extra 44 gallons--or less than $90.

2010 Toyota Prius mileage tests

2010 Toyota Prius mileage tests