UK Times: Toyota Prius a "Gas Guzzler"
The Times pits a BMW 520d with Efficient Dynamics against a Toyota Prius to see which one gets better mileage. After a bit of Hollywood hybrid-bashing, the Times sets the stage for their battle of the fuel misers (meisters?). "To find out [which one gets better mileage] we set a challenge: to drive a Prius [and BMW 320d] to Geneva using motorways and town driving. The direct route is 460 miles but we drove almost 100 miles further to give the Prius the advantage of running in urban conditions where its petrol-electric drivetrain comes into its own." Strangely, the article doesn't follow the headline writer's "take no prisoners" style– "Toyota Prius proves a gas guzzler in a race with the BMW 520d." In fact, the authors don't pronounce a winner. But the chart at the bottom tells the tale. BMW 520d: 10.84 gallons (50.3mpg); Toyota Prius: 11.34 gallons (48.1mpg).
Realistically, newer more efficient diesels may be a better solution for people who have long commutes that are at constant speeds with less stop-and-go. If you factor in lower speeds and stop-and-go then the Prius may be the better bet. For my current commute, the Prius may be a better solution for me since there are days where I've got a lot of stop-and-go to get to the highway (which I'm only on for a total of 4 miles out of my 21 mile commute). This doesn't have to be a zero sum game. Modern diesels (used in cars, not the monster pigs they're putting in full size trucks) are lovely engines. The sound IMO is music to my ears. I love the turbo whine and the engine note which is so unlike a gasser. Under full throttle a VW TDI can emit a small puff of visible exhaust but otherwise no one knows you're driving a diesel (I speak from having owned 2 in the past). Please don't judge modern diesels based on seeing some tool in a Dodge Ram floor it and shoot out a smokescreen of black unburnt fuel because he's got it tuned that way.
Ditto what Bancho said. If you are not familiar with modern european diesels, you might want to remain stum. Exagerating the downsides while ignoring the advantages while simultaneously using old data is simply a recipe for appearing ignorant. Who knows in the end whether the market or technology will tip the balance the other way? I don't.
The BMW is a fine, modern Diesel, specifically made for the kind of high-speed trans-European long-distance trip the Times authors did. Rushing through continental Europe at constant, high average speeds (of up to 100mph) is exactly what the Prius is not good at. To call the Prius a gas guzzler merely because it does not excel at every single conceivable task is just dumb.
To those complaining about diesels being dirty, where I live, probably 60% or so of the cars here are diesels, if not more. Despite being a bit noisier, I can find no differences in air quality here (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), than in my previous home (Memphis, TN). If you want to diss diesels for being noisy, thats ok, but as far as making the air quality worse, I can't agree with you there.