Ack! It's December! Wha'ppened? Well, to avoid thoughts of the holiday shopping you haven't done yet, here are the most popular posts of the past 30 days on, three of them returning from October's most popular posts.

This month, it's all about safety and recalls. The well-publicized floor mat recall (which we'll be updating soon), the rising concern over sudden acceleration, and even possible problems with Prius high-intensity headlights. And as we expected, the first photos of a Toyota Prius station wagon were popular too.

# 1: 30 Days of the 2010 Toyota Prius: Your Reference Guide. It's the Reference Guide. It's always on top. That's all we need to say. It provides the basics on the all-new, totally redesigned 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid. Bottom Line: You should start here for any and all of the 2010 Toyota Prius information you're searching for.

# 2: Prius Sudden Acceleration: Much Ado About Nothing? This article got a lot of traffic when we published it in May, then fell off the radar. Now, it's back.  Bottom Line: Sudden acceleration has never conclusively been proven in any vehicle, and most safety experts believe driver error is to blame. Among other things, no car sold today can out-accelerate its brakes. Nonetheless, Toyota is under fire from consumer advocates who believe that incorrect floor mats are only one part of the problem.

Toyota's diagram showing how to properly install floor mats

Toyota's diagram showing how to properly install floor mats

# 3: High-Intensity Headlight Horrors Perplex Prius Owners. We're still not sure why this article from mid-July hit the Top Five last month, rising one notch this month, unless missed a news item. Any ideas, you guys?  Bottom Line: An AdAge story says second-generation (2004-2009) Toyota Prius models have a reliability problem with their optional xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights. The bulbs are expensive, no doubt, but we think the data are fuzzy. If you have a xenon bulb fail, we suggest you consider replacing it yourself, rather than paying your dealer to do it.

# 4: ALERT: Toyota Recalls 2004-2009 Prius, DoT Urges Removing Floor Mat. This continues to be an important news story, one that we're planning to update soon. It falls from # 2 last month to # 4 this month.  Bottom Line: The U.S. Department of Transportation strongly urges owners of any model of 2004-2009 Toyota Prius to remove the driver's side floor mat immediately. This can avoid potential safety issues with the brakes and accelerator. Toyota is developing a fix, and the automaker will reach out to owners through the media and individually soon.

Toyota Prius station wagon, from

Toyota Prius station wagon, from

# 5: First Photos: 2011 Toyota Prius Station Wagon!  As the world's most popular hybrid car (Toyota has now built more than 1.5 million of them), the Toyota Prius always attracts interest. A new body style after 10 years of a sole Prius model intrigued many readers. Bottom Line: The photos from Japanese magazines that we published clearly show a station wagon, with markings that indicate it may be a model of the Plug-In Prius that Toyota will launch for fleets in small numbers this year. Whether the U.S. market will ever see the Prius wagon is a totally different question, though.

To round out the month, here are several longtime favorite posts that we expect to make new appearances in our monthly ratings, sooner or later:

2010 Toyota Prius: Overview.

30 Days of the 2010 Toyota Prius: Day 1, First Impressions and 70 MPG.

30 Days of the 2010 Toyota Prius: Day 4, Equipment Levels and Packages.

Behind the Prius Scenes: How They Made the Harmony Commercial.

2010 Toyota Prius: Reviewing the Reviews.

And if you want to scan the winners and losers in previous months (never mind the perennially first-place Reference Guide), here are all previous Top Five roundups for

Most popular posts: September 2009

Most popular posts: August 2009

Most popular posts: July 2009

Most popular posts: June 2009

Most popular posts: May 2009

Most popular posts: April 2009

Most popular posts: March 2009

Most popular posts: February 2009

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