2008 Honda Fit vs. 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid

2008 Honda Fit vs. 2008 Toyota Prius Comparison Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
  • Comparison (2)
  • Long-Term

2008 Toyota Prius Hatchback

(1.5L 4-cyl. Hybrid CVT Automatic)

  • Comparison Test
  • Top 10 Features
  • Data and Charts
  • Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation

Consider this: The 2008 Toyota Prius base model costs 50 percent more than the 2008 Honda Fit base model. Then again, the Prius is 50 percent more fuel-efficient than the Fit when you look at the EPA's figure for combined mpg. So how does this add up?

You could save $8,425 right now by buying a $15,420 Honda Fit instead of the $23,845 Toyota Prius. Of course, if the price of gasoline goes higher, then the Prius with its EPA combined estimate of 46 mpg will pay you back for your investment sooner than you'd expect. Then again, the Fit with its EPA combined estimate of 30 mpg doesn't carry the same penalty of higher financing charges, insurance costs and taxes as the more expensive Prius, plus the Toyota will be needing a new $2,585 battery pack when the odometer shows 100,000-150,000 miles.

Which car is best? It sounds like the kind of question for one of those money magazines. Yes, we've painted ourselves into a bit of a projected-cost corner with this comparison of the base models of the 2008 Honda Fit and 2008 Toyota Prius, but we think we can get out without stepping on too much wet paint.

It's, Like, Driving, You Know?
Driving a Toyota Prius is kind of the same thing as bowling with a Nintendo Wii. Sure, a Prius has four wheels, two pedals and a steering wheel, but it doesn't have the same bite of reality as hurling a 16-pound Brunswick Fury Pearl down the lane.

To start with, its key isn't even a key; it's a smooth, rubbery fob that you stick in the dash. Press the On button, various lights appear at the base of the windshield, and you jiggle a joystick protruding from the dashboard to select a gear.

You'll notice there are no distinct gear selections as you've grown to expect with forward progress. Instead, the Prius wills itself down Main Street, or perhaps it's drawn to the other side of town by a tractor beam. Occasionally, the gasoline engine will wake up with a twitch, and shiver like it just got goose bumps. "Did you just feel something?" your passengers will ask.

But the Prius isn't all that slow when you press the accelerator to the floor. Through a complicated, continuously variable planetary gearset, the Prius can simultaneously dump all its available electricity while maxing the gasoline engine's output of 75 horsepower at 5,000 rpm. With a combined/blended output of 110 hp, zero to 60 mph will take just 10.1 seconds (9.7 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip).

When the "Slow! Kid Zone" speed bump arrives, you'll press the brake pedal and notice a slight whirring sound and gentle, linear slowing. That's the regenerative brake function at work, which is effectively like winding an electric motor backward to make electricity. Then right before you almost rear end your neighbor's Camry, there's a moment of perceived horizontal free fall when the Prius switches to traditional mechanical brakes between 5 mph and zero. Our best stop from 60 mph consumed 125 feet.

Light Effort
As you begin to twist the Prius' steering wheel, you'll find little resistance. This electric-assisted power steering has a 19:1 steering ratio, one of the slowest we've ever seen. You need to spin the springy wheel almost four times around to do a U-turn in 34 feet.

It turns out the Prius is rather nimble despite its woozy Novocain-filled controls. The base model 2008 Toyota Prius doesn't have electronic stability control, and our skid pad results show 0.78g in lateral grip compared to a 0.71g registered for a Prius with stability control. The base model Prius weaves through the cones at 63.3 mph compared to the frustrating fight with stability control that's required to get a 61.3-mph run in the upmarket car.

Riding down the highway, the Prius is remarkably capable at soaking up bumps and seams. The Prius is surprisingly svelte at 2,936 pounds despite its battery pack. Compared to the Fit, the Prius maintains a substantial, planted feel over more surface textures. And quiet tires and slippery aerodynamics help make the Prius comfortably hushed, registering just 70 dBA at 70 mph.

Fun To Drive?
The all-knowing electronic screen that sits atop the Prius' dashboard has two different pages showing your instantaneous, accumulating and average fuel economy, as well as where the driving power is coming from and going to. And guess what? Looking at it (responsibly, of course) will affect the way you drive.

Driving becomes "The Economy Game, brought to you in three parts by Toyota." It's nearly impossible to resist counting how many little green cars you've earned that represent how much electricity you've generated. Or how many times you can stack up blocks, maxing out the 100-mpg bar graphs. Or learning the greatest indicated speed you can reach before the gasoline engine starts up and begins knocking down the mpg bar.

Our score? Over 675 miles in the Prius, we averaged 42 mpg, with a best result of 51 mpg on one tank. In comparison, the Fit returned an average of 28 mpg over 800 miles with a best tank of 38 mpg.

The Prius is fun to drive in a strange, arcade-style way. It feeds your sense of social responsibility and you become a weenie hypermiler.

Fit for the Fight?
Which brings us to the base model 2008 Honda Fit. There's a reason it costs $8,425 less than the Prius. For starters, it's not chock-full o' expensive tech and 168 nickel-metal hydride batteries. Unless you're really good at mental gymnastics, playing the Fit's version of the Economy Game only happens with a calculator in your hand at the gas station.

So there's that, and the Fit doesn't have a keyless remote or cruise control or aluminum wheels or audio/HVAC buttons on its steering wheel or floor mats or even map lights. Frankly, we were half expecting to find four window cranks when we popped open the Fit's doors.

The Fit does have great interior packaging, however. With all the seats up, it offers 7 cubic feet more cargo volume than the Prius; once the seats go down there are 12 cubic feet more. The Fit's second-row seat bottoms flip up to accommodate tall items like a bicycle as long as it measures less than 50 by 50 inches.

There's even a way to convert the second row into what Honda euphemistically calls "Refresh Mode" that was characterized by one of our editors as "Business Class Seating."

So what you get for $15,420 is a small car with a big interior that's powered by a high-revving four-cylinder engine that earns above-average fuel economy. But it's hardly a penalty box, and you might be happy to learn all of its driving dynamics will be familiar.

Not a Good Sport
To be honest, though, the Honda Fit doesn't put its best foot forward with this budget-friendly model, largely because of its automatic transmission. Like so many automatics in this efficiency-minded age, the Fit's five-speed strives to get to top gear as soon as possible.

At freeway speeds, it's so reluctant to downshift from 5th to 4th that you lose patience and pin the gas pedal to the floor...and there goes your fuel economy. Then the transmission decides you're in a really big hurry, so it skips over 4th to 3rd. Adding insult to injury is the fact that there's no way to manually select 4th gear as the PRNDL mirrors its programming with either D or D3 positions.

Repeat this profanity-filled fiasco several dozen times, and you'll be convinced to opt for the available manual transmission for less money, or the Sport model's paddle shifters in concert with the automatic for a little more. The automatic doesn't do the Fit any favors for acceleration either. With its 109-hp 1.5-liter inline-4 driving the front wheels, the Fit arrives at 60 mph in 11.4 seconds (11.1 seconds with a 1-foot rollout like on a drag strip).

The base model Fit has narrower tires than the Sport model, so our best efforts resulted in a 0.75g orbit around the skid pad and a sporty-feeling 62.3-mph pass through the slalom. (In comparison, a Fit Sport produces 0.80g lateral acceleration and a 67.5-mph pass.) Put the brakes on and the 2,517-pound Fit comes to a halt in 131 feet.

The True Cost of Ownership
Thanks to a proprietary function called Edmunds.com True Cost to Own (TCOSM), we can answer the $8,425 question when it comes time to determine the relative value of the 2008 Honda Fit and 2008 Toyota Prius.

Is it more financially beneficial to buy a Prius base model for $23,845 or a Fit base model for $15,420? The EPA says the Prius earns 46 mpg in combined city and highway use, while the Fit's combined rating is 30 mpg. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, the Fit will consume 174 gallons of fuel more than the Prius. If you drive the same number of miles over the course of five years, Edmunds.com TCO calculations predict the five-year aggregated fuel costs will total $11,480 for the Fit and $7,911 for the Prius, or a difference of $3,569.

This means the Prius would still be $4,856 shy of breaking even with fuel-cost savings alone.

Here's the math: Difference in purchase prices minus difference in fuel cost = perceived difference in operating cost. That is: $8,425-$3,569 = $4,856.

But the Edmunds TCO also accounts for financing charges, insurance payments, taxes, regular maintenance costs and repairs, so the cost gap between the Fit and Prius over five years is even greater, an out-of-pocket difference of $5,351. In other words, choosing the Fit over the Prius would mean you'd still be ahead by $3,074 ($8,425-$5,351 = $3,074).

We're working on a side-by-side version of TCO, but you can look at each one individually for the 2008 Honda Fit and 2008 Toyota Prius. Extra points if you know how to manage split-screen viewing.

So how long does it take to break even on your investment in a 2008 Toyota Prius? We have another proprietary tool called the Gas Mileage Savings Calculator. It uses some TCO data, and also offers you the opportunity to input your typical monthly mileage, your ZIP code, two different vehicles and your best guess at the cost of a gallon of gas to see how many months it would take until that magic break-even point occurs.

For the purposes of this particular comparison, we input 1,250 miles of driving per month (the same 15,000 miles per year as above), a price of $4.49 per gallon of gas (typical for Santa Monica, California), this 2008 Toyota Prius and a 2008 Honda Fit for the trade-in sale value.

It takes 189 months or more than 15 years to break even on fuel. And that's well beyond the battery-swap schedule. As the tool notes, "You will not save any money by trading in your current vehicle for the fuel-efficient vehicle you have selected."

And the Winner Is...
At this point, our usual 100-point comparison-test score card would appear, well, pointless. But be that as it may, the 2008 Honda Fit still comes out on top in this comparison by a slim margin of 1.9 points. Usually we declare such a close finish the equivalent of a tie, but the Edmunds True Cost of Ownership makes the 2008 Toyota Prius the obvious runner-up.

As our score sheets indicate, the Honda Fit earns points for its obvious price advantage, decent fuel economy and remarkable interior packaging. Even by heavily weighting fuel consumption at 30 percent of the total score, the Toyota Prius can't manage to overtake the Fit's lead in the scoring.

So the 2008 Honda Fit is our choice. When it comes to the complicated issue of small-car goodness, sometimes the simple answers are the most effective.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

While the base model Honda Fit might be more than $8,000 less expensive than the base model Toyota Prius, you'll find that the price discrepancy is partially explained by the lack of standard or even optional comfort, convenience or even sporting items missing from the Fit.


2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
Aluminum wheels O* S
Audio/HVAC buttons on steering wheel N/A S
Cruise control O* S
Electronic stability control (ESC) N/A O*
Floor mats O* O
Fold-up/down second-row seats S N/A
Fuel economy display N/A S
Map lights N/A S
Remote keyless entry O* S
Smart key N/A O*
   *option available but not present on test car

S: Standard
O: Optional
N/A: Not Available

Aluminum wheels: Unless you opt for the Fit Sport with its 15-inch aluminum wheels, the Fit Base is fitted with 14-inch steel jobs with hub caps. The Prius Base has standard 15-inch alloys.

Audio/HVAC buttons on steering wheel: Once the hallmark of luxury cars, steering-wheel-mounted redundant controls for the audio system's volume and track/skip functions have become pretty common. This isn't even available on the Fit, while the Prius not only includes them but goes one better with standard controls for the HVAC system as well.

Cruise control: Not just a convenience, but also a fuel-saving device, a good, intuitive cruise control system with steering wheel buttons is standard on the Prius, but not on a Fit.

Electronic stability control: ESC helps maintain vehicle stability and control while turning. You have to pay extra for ESC in the Prius, although it should be noted that traction control is standard. Neither ESC nor traction control is available for the Fit.

Floor mats: These are optional for almost every car because there are commonly several styles of floor mats from which to choose, but our low-dollar Fit didn't even have these. The Prius had an optional five-piece set including one for the cargo area.

Fold-up/down second-row seats: Finally, a feature the Fit has that the Prius doesn't. The seat bottoms in the second row in the Fit fold up to meet the seatbacks to offer what Honda calls "Tall Mode," accommodating a bicycle or anything 50 inches tall or less. Also, the second-row seatbacks fold much flatter and lower than those in the Prius, which uses much of the cargo area to haul around its 168-cell battery pack.

Fuel economy display: It's nice to see how efficiently your driving is, and the Prius' nifty display shows all manner of instantaneous and accumulated fuel economy, as well as a real-time diagram showing energy flow among engine, motor and generator. We'd like to see at least a purely numerical trip computer with fuel economy figures in the Fit. As it is now, you've got to rely on a calculator.

Map lights: Hard to imagine a car without a pair of map lights on the headliner, but the Fit doesn't have them.

Remote keyless entry: A handheld remote for locking and unlocking the doors is standard for the base model Prius. You don't get a remote on a Fit unless you opt for a Sport model.

Smart key: Toyota's so-called Smart key allows you to lock or unlock the front doors and start the car without taking the key out of your pocket or purse, and it is available as an option. Not available on the Honda.

Engine & Transmission Specifications
Fuel Economy
Warranty Information
Performance Information
Safety Information


Exterior Dimensions & Capacities
2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
Length, in. 157.4 175.0
Width, in. 66.2 67.9
Height, in. 60.0 58.7
Wheelbase, in. 96.5 106.3
Manufacturer Curb Weight, lb. 2,514 2,932
Turning Circle, ft. 34.3 34.1
Tire size P175/65R14 P185/65R15
Wheel type 14-inch steel 15-inch alloy
Interior Dimensions
2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
Front headroom, in. 40.6 39.1
Rear headroom, in. 38.6 37.3
Front shoulder room, in. 52.8 55.0
Rear shoulder room, in. 50.6 52.9
Front legroom, in. 41.9 41.9
Rear legroom, in. 33.7 38.6
EPA cargo volume, cu-ft 21.3 14.4
Maximum cargo volume, cu-ft 41.9 30 est.

Engine & Transmission Specifications

Engine & Transmission
2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
(cc / cu-in):
1500 (92) 1500 (92)
Engine Type Inline-4 Inline-4
Horsepower (SAE) @ rpm 109 @ 5,800 75 @ 5,000
Max. Torque, lb-ft @ rpm 105 @ 4,800 82 @ 4,200
Electric motor output, hp N/A 67 @ 1,200-1,540
Electric motor max.torque, lb-ft @ rpm N/A 295 @ 0-1,200
System voltage (max.) N/A 500
Max. blended horsepower N/A 110
Transmission 5-speed auto Planetary CVT

Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy
2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
Fuel tank capacity, gal. 10.8 11.9
EPA Fuel Economy City, mpg 27.0 48.0
EPA Fuel Economy Hwy, mpg 34.0 45.0
EPA Fuel Economy Combined mpg 30.0 46.0
EPA Fuel Economy Combined & Converted (gal-per-100 mi) 3.3 2.2
Observed Fuel Economy Edmunds combined, mpg 28.0 42.0
Estimated Fuel Consumption Gallons per Year (15k miles) 500 326
Estimated Fuel Cost at the End of Five Years (75k miles) $11,480* $7,911*

* According to a 5-year fuel-cost estimate from Edmunds.com TCO (True Cost To Own) calculations


Warranty Information
2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Roadside Assistance N/A N/A
Corrosion Protection 5 years/Unlimited miles 5 years/Unlimited miles
Hybrid Battery* N/A 8 years/100,000 miles
10 years/150,000 miles
   *tied to mandated emissions warranties, which vary between federal and CA emissions states


Performance Information
2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
0-60 mph acceleration, sec. 11.4 10.1
Quarter-mile acceleration, sec. 18.0 17.3
Quarter-mile speed, mph 76.1 79.9
60-0-mph braking, feet 131 125
Lateral Acceleration, g 0.75 0.78
600-ft slalom, mph 62.3 63.3


Safety Information
2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
Front airbags Standard Standard
Side airbags Standard dual front Standard dual front
Head airbags Standard front and rear curtain Standard front and rear curtain
Antilock brakes 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS
Traction control Not Available Standard
Stability control Not Available Optional
Tire pressure monitoring Direct measurement Direct measurement
NHTSA frontal crash, driver 4 stars 4 stars
NHTSA frontal crash, passenger 4 stars 4 stars
NHTSA side crash, driver 5 stars 5 stars
NHTSA side crash, passenger 4 stars 4 stars
NHTSA rollover resistance 4 stars 4 stars
IIHS offset crash Good Good

Final Rankings

Final Rankings
Item Weight 2008 Honda Fit Base 2008 Toyota Prius Base
Personal Rating 2.5% 100.0 50.0
Recommended Rating 2.5% 100.0 50.0
Evaluation Score 15% 71.0 71.4
Feature Content 20% 23.3 73.3
Performance 10% 84.8 100.0
Fuel Consumption 30% 46.7 100.0
Price 20% 100.0 45.4
Total Score 100.0% 48.8 46.9
Final Ranking 1 2
$15,420 $23,845

Personal Rating (2.5%): Purely subjective. After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she would buy for his or her own use. Each editor was told to think of it as "My money, my daily driver, my choice would be...."

Recommended Rating (2.5%): After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference, based on which he or she thought would be best for the average consumer shopping in this segment. Each editor was told to think of it as "Your significant other's money, your conscience, your recommendation would be...."

31-Point Evaluation (15%): Each participating editor ranked both cars using a comprehensive 31-point evaluation process. The evaluation covered everything from exterior design to cupholders. Scoring was calculated on a point system, and the scores listed are averages based on all test participants' evaluations.

Feature Content (20%): Editors picked 10 significant distinguishing features they thought would be most beneficial to a consumer shopping in this segment. Each test vehicle was then given a score based on which of those features it possessed. More points were awarded when these features were standard (3 points), optional and present on this test vehicle (2 points), optional but not present (1 point), and no points were given if the feature was unavailable on a given vehicle. The score given here represents the percentage of points, out of a total possible 30 points. Feature content and price are weighted equally for this "what you get for the money" comparison test.

Performance Testing (10%): We subjected these cars to our standard set of performance tests. Scores were calculated by giving the best car in each specific performance category 100 percent. The other car was awarded points based on how close it came to the best performing car's score.

Fuel Consumption (30%): Fuel consumption is an important purchase motivation, especially in fuel-efficient vehicles such as these, so this category was weighted heavily. Using EPA combined fuel economy ratings as the basis for comparison, we awarded a score of 100 percent to the more fuel-efficient vehicle. The less efficient vehicle was scored proportionally based on how close it came to the better-performing vehicle's fuel consumption.

Price (20%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the less expensive vehicle in the comparison test. Using the as-tested prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the less expensive vehicle received a score of 100, with the remaining vehicle receiving a lesser score based on how much it costs. Price and feature content are weighted equally for this "what you get for the money" comparison test.

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