The 2008 Toyota Prius is fuel-efficient and affordable. It gives off low emissions and offers plenty of room. However, it doesn’t have a tremendous amount of engine power. Although it’s small, it proves dependable and reliable enough to drive around town. The Prius runs on electricity alone or with the help of a small, four-cylinder, gasoline engine.
The 2008 Toyota Prius earns high safety ratings, but it doesn’t fare well in snowy or very rainy conditions.
Body Styles: hatchback
Engines: 1.5-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors
Models: Toyota Prius Standard, Toyota Prius Base, Toyota Prius Touring
While no significant upgrades occur for the 2008 Prius, Toyota now offers a somewhat pared-down Standard model. The Standard lacks cruise control and heated mirrors, but gives the Prius a notably lower base price.
The exterior of the 2008 Toyota Prius emphasizes simple, fluid lines that make it look futuristic. The pinched-down nose helps with aerodynamics, as does the steeply raked windshield that carries the hood’s angle toward the rear of the car. A high spoiler at the rear maximizes the aerodynamic advantage of the Prius’s nearly vertical back end. The 106-inch wheelbase gives the Prius a more stable ride and more interior room.
The measurements for the 2008 Toyota Prius total 67.9 inches wide, 58.7 inches tall, and 175 inches long. The front track measures 59.3 inches, and the rear track is 58.3 inches. It sits on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, and the curb weight totals 2932 pounds.
The Standard features 15-inch alloy wheels. The Touring adds a sportier suspension, 16-inch wheels, and xenon headlights. Xenon headlights remain optional on the Base. Fog lamps remain optional.
The interior’s seats look beautiful but not luxurious. The seat belts feel comfortable, and the Prius offers enough room for at least four or five passengers, although taller passengers may feel a bit cramped. The door pockets have enough storage space for small items. A dashboard light, spacious glove compartment, and plush floor mats increase comfort.
The 2008 Toyota Prius comes in three trim levels: Standard, Base, and Touring. The new Standard comes with keyless entry, full power accessories, a tilt steering wheel, touchscreen controls, a hybrid system display, and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player. The Base adds cruise control and heated side-view mirrors.
In addition to the three trim levels, the Prius offers several optional packages, bundling features such as a rear-view camera, keyless ignition, HomeLink, an auto-dimming mirror, leather upholstery and steering wheel, an auxiliary audio jack, MP3 playback, Bluetooth, a navigation system, and a nine-speaker JBL premium sound system with an in-dash, six-CD changer. Satellite radio provides a standalone option.
Front headroom totals 39.1 inches, and front hip room reaches 51 inches. The front offers 41.9 inches of legroom and 55 inches of shoulder room. Rear passengers get 51.6 inches of hip room, 37.3 inches of headroom, 38.6 inches of legroom, and 52.9 inches of shoulder room.
Performance & Handling
Toyota calls its gas-electric hybrid system Hybrid Synergy Drive. This powertrain consists of a 1.5-liter, gasoline engine and two electric motors. One electric motor helps drive the front wheels, while the other functions as a generator, recharging the Prius’ battery pack. The gas engine produces 76 horsepower and 82 lb-ft of torque, while the electric-drive motor produces the equivalent of 67 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Together, they produce a peak horsepower of 110.
The 2008 Toyota Prius features a simplified version of the continuously variable transmission. It provides the ease of a conventional automatic transmission, but there are no gears to shift, drive belts, torque converter or clutch. The Prius’ biggest drawback may be in acceleration. The trip from zero to 60 mph takes 10.9 seconds.
Safety features for the 2008 Toyota Prius include front-seat side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, child seat anchors, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, child safety locks, headrests, seat belt pretensioners, and traction control. Stability control remains available as an option.
In government frontal-impact crash tests, the Prius scores four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection. Side-impact scores look equally impressive, with the Prius earning five stars for front-occupant protection and four stars for rear-passenger protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Prius its highest rating of “Good"" in both front- and side-impact tests.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Prius: 48/45 mpg city/highway
- Low emissions
- Excellent fuel economy
- Decent cargo space
- High safety ratings
You Won't Like
- Slow acceleration
- Some low-quality interior materials
A small but efficient car that allows drivers to go green while enjoying semi-luxury driving.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda Insight
- Toyota Camry Hybrid
- Nissan Leaf
- Honda Civic Hybrid