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Complaints against 2010 Prius surpass all 2010 Toyota recall models

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David Zalubowski/AP/File

(Read caption) A shopper looked over a 2010 Toyota Prius in January at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver. The 2010 model has not been recalled but has generated more complaints than any 2010 Toyota recall model.

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If the Toyota Prius has a brake problem, Toyota says its not covering it up. Now, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is going to make sure.

The NHTSA opened a formal investigation of the 2010 Toyota Prius's alleged braking issues on Thursday. The inquiry comes on the heels of two huge Toyota recalls involving problematic floor mats in November and now sticky accelerator pedals.

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Here's the curious thing, though. The 2010 Toyota Prius, which hasn't been recalled, has generated far more driver complaints to NHTSA than any of the 2010 recalled Toyotas. In fact, it has twice as many as the 2010 models of all the recalled Toyotas put together.

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Its 171 complaints (124 explicitly regarding braking problems) for the 2010 model are five times the recalled 2010 Toyotas that generated the most complaints, the Corolla (33), according to NHTSA records. The recalled 2010 Camry garnered 21 complaints; the recalled Matrix, two.

Previous models of the Prius have also generated far more complaints than any other Toyota recalled for floor mats or accelerators. (Model 2004-09 Priuses have been recalled for floor-mat problems.) Between 2004 and 2009, Priuses generated 2,310 driver complaints. That was almost equal to the combined total of 2,340 generated for all the other Toyotas involved in either recall during that same period.

To be fair, none of the other models were recalled as far back as the Prius. Still, it's a disappointing record for a car that, until recently, generated only positive publicity.