2008 Toyota Prius Review
2008 Toyota Prius Review
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- Outstanding fuel economy, low emissions, generous amount of interior space, easy to maneuver in tight spaces, space-age interior design, a lower price for 2008.
- Less powerful and agile than other midsize sedans, a few disappointing interior plastics.
Toyota now offers a slightly decontented "standard" Prius model that lacks cruise control and heated mirrors but in exchange has a significantly lower base price.
The 2008 Toyota Prius is a full-featured midsize car that just so happens to be the most fuel-efficient car on the market. The fact that it now starts at less than $21,000 is icing on the green-colored cake.
The 2008 Toyota Prius should be considered more than just a rolling personal statement declaring, "Ahoy there you scummy SUV driver! I'm part of the solution, not the problem." Of course, people buy cars to make statements all the time. A stately luxury car can say, "Look world, I'm successful." Buying a Hummer can say, "This enormous 6,000-pound truck is synonymous with my (delusional) sense of personal machismo." Yet despite being the poster child for environmental awareness, the Prius should be closely considered for all the real, tangible ways it provides daily transportation. You don't have to bleed green to appreciate its virtues.
Even without its innovative and revolutionary hybrid power plant, the Prius would be a sensible, functional-first midsize sedan. It may look small, but the well-packaged and airy interior is spacious for passengers and cargo alike. Plus, a long list of standard and optional features allows the Prius to serve both customers in search of a low-priced conveyance and those in need of more luxurious trappings.
Of course, the Prius is first and foremost a hybrid -- and the benchmark upon which all others are based. Capable of running on electricity alone or in concert with the small gasoline four-cylinder engine, the Prius is capable of fuel economy that no current mainstream car can match -- even with the lower, revised 2008 EPA estimates. Like most hybrids, the 2008 Toyota Prius is best suited to drivers whose travels rarely take them farther than the city limits. Around town and in stop-and-go traffic, the Prius' electric motors and regenerative braking are optimized to provide superior fuel economy and optimal power delivery. It's OK on the freeway, but without consistent braking or coasting, the battery runs down, forcing the anemic four-cylinder engine to carry most of the load.
In a few short years, the Toyota Prius has gone from low-volume oddity to being one of the 10 best-selling cars in America. With that popularity have come a slew of new hybrid models that generally trade a few miles per gallon for a more traditional body style. Toyota's own Camry Hybrid and the Nissan Altima Hybrid have gas-electric systems similar to the one in the Prius, but offer a more regular car-driving experience. The Altima can even be described as fun to drive, something few other hybrids --including the Prius -- can boast. The Honda Civic Hybrid is also a similarly priced alternative, providing more rewarding handling and a higher-quality interior.
Despite this competition, though, nobody comes close to beating the Prius' mix of fuel economy, interior versatility and for 2008, a base price under $21,000. Plus, for better or worse, nothing else can make a better environmental statement.
Performance & mpg
Powering the revolutionary Prius is what Toyota calls Hybrid Synergy Drive. This drivetrain consists of a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and two electric motors, one of which helps drive the front wheels and the other of which functions solely as a generator (recharging the car's battery pack). The gas engine produces 76 horsepower and 82 pound-feet of torque, while the electric-drive motor produces the equivalent of 67 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Net peak horsepower is 110, mainly because the two power sources hit their peaks at different times. Regardless, power delivery is smooth and consistent from rest all the way to top speed. The Prius features a simplified continuously variable transmission of sorts. It provides the ease of a conventional automatic transmission, but there are no gears to shift, drive belts, torque converter or clutch. In performance testing, the Prius sauntered up to 60 mph in a leisurely 10.9 seconds.
After the EPA revised its fuel economy testing procedures for 2008, the Prius and other hybrids suffered a perceived hit in gas mileage ratings. The Prius is now rated at 48 mpg city and 45 mpg highway. This is a far cry from the ridiculously optimistic former numbers (61 city), but they still represent the most fuel-efficient mainstream car money can buy.
Every 2008 Toyota Prius comes standard with antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Stability control is a package option. In government crash tests, Toyota's hybrid car earned four stars out of five for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. In side-impact testing, it earned five stars for front-occupant protection and four stars for the rear. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Prius earned the top rating of "Good" for its protection in frontal-offset and side-impact crashes.
Driving a Prius is different. There is no engine start-up, just an instrument panel light that says "Ready." The transmission selector is a stubby electronic knob. Thanks to its Hybrid Synergy Drive, the Prius can accelerate up to about 25 mph using only electric power, which can make it sound like a huge golf cart. It's all very different, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Star Wars was once pretty different, too. Aside from its idiosyncrasies, the Prius features minimal cabin noise and a suspension that provides an acceptably smooth ride despite the car's weight-saving chassis components. The Prius makes a fine highway companion, but it is best suited to the city, where its light electric steering, tight turning circle, excellent visibility and available rearview camera make it easy to park and maneuver through traffic. Also, this hybrid returns its best gas mileage in stop-and-go driving, as it's able to spend more time in full-electric mode.
The overall look of the 2008 Prius is upscale, if not a little oddball. The dash is flat and wide, with a large touchscreen, digital gauges, stubby electronic shifter and plenty of steering wheel buttons. Climbing inside, you tend to feel as if you're about to take a trip inside Epcot's "Car of the Future." Fit and finish is very tight and materials are pretty good, although some plastics are starting to seem a little cheap. We've complained before about centrally located instrument clusters, but the Prius' electronic gauges are at least crystal-clear and easy to see.
Although the front seats are relatively roomy, the driving position in the Prius is somewhat awkward, as the driver seat is not height-adjustable and the steering wheel does not telescope. The backseat offers ample room for adults and rear-facing infant seats, while the 14.4-cubic-foot rear hatchback trunk can accommodate several roller suitcases or a double stroller. Plus, the folding seatbacks provide an uninterrupted cargo area that most sedans can't match.
2008 Toyota Prius models
The 2008 Toyota Prius is a midsize hatchback sedan available in three body styles: standard, base and Touring. The new standard model comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, tilt steering wheel, touchscreen controls, a hybrid system display and a six-speaker stereo with CD player. The base model (in name only) adds cruise control, different wheels and heated sideview mirrors. The Touring model adds a sportier suspension, 16-inch wheels and xenon headlights. The latter item is available on the base model.
The Prius options list is extensive, capable of transforming this hybrid from an economy car to a near-luxury sedan. There are five packages available on the base and Touring trims (Packages 2 through 6 -- there is no Package 1), which bundle features that include a rearview camera, keyless ignition, HomeLink, foglamps, an auto-dimming mirror, leather upholstery and steering wheel, auxiliary audio jack, MP3 playback, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a nine-speaker JBL premium sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer. A choice of satellite radio providers is a stand-alone, dealer-installed option.
Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Toyota Prius.
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Suzane W, 08/28/2016
2008 Toyota Prius Touring 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Gas mileage is down about 10 mpg in the winter, but overall it is a great car. Does great in the snow, roomy inside and comfortable. I sold it in 2016. The new owner loves it
4.25 out of 5 stars
2008 Toyota Prius Touring 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I've waited a year to write this so as to have some experience with the car. Was very hesitant to buy due to fear of the unknown with the high voltage battery. Can say now that this is not a concern as these fail rarely and with many miles and usually with at least a decade of time. My dealership might replace 5-6 a year on the first generation (2001-2003), but 1-2 on this … generation. Not as expensive to replace as I thought, either, as I received quotes of $2500 parts and labor. Realistically, that would be at least 12-15 years down the road. I get about 44 mpg in the winter and 46-49 mpg in warm weather. No repairs have been needed; easy to work on.
5 out of 5 stars
HIgh Mile Prius Rock, best car for normal folks
Jim W, 07/27/2017
2008 Toyota Prius 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
7/31/20 update, I still have this car in my family, sold it to my son with 270K miles and he is still driving it every day. These cars seem to run forever...I love my 08 Prius, I have over 215,000 miles on the car, I purchased it with 168,000. While many of these reviews come from folks that have owned the car for a short time, I am Credit Union Autobroker in Portland OR and have … owned and sold close to 500 of the Prius. These cars in my opinion are the most reliable car a normal consumer can buy. I get about 45 to 47 for my crazy all around mileage, and tend to drive it pretty hard. No timing belt, just change the oil and drive. Front brake pads, last forever, most of your braking if your normal, comes from the regenerating braking system. Have seen FB pads go well over 100K miles. I love these cars and give them 5 stars...my wife stole a V which is the wagon, and not given it back...she love it. My daughter is in Phoenix driving an 08 Touring model... Simply the best little rigs you can own. Jan / 2018 still driving this car...and still loving it.. Update Jan / 2019. Now have 240,000 miles on my car, and still going strong. Just change the oil and drive. Don't listen to the folks that put out the scary stories about the hybrid batteries. I have heard of them go over 600K miles. Daily use and driving actually is better for them... Additionally the Toyota dealers will charge 3 to 4000 for a hybrid battery replacement, but in my area I can get a completely rebuilt one installed for around $900.00 which is not crazy out of line with any moderate repair on any car. UPDATE... well I finally moved into a newer lower mile prius... the one above has 256,000 miles on it, and still runs great, actually gave to my son to drive... my new one is an 09 with a modest 164K..... I can not believe how reliable these Prius are. I am an autobroker and have sold close to 600 of these prius... they simply are fantastic rigs... Update: 2/3/2021 Still going strong, I love these cars ..you can not find a more reliable rig to drive. I just sold a 2016 with 238K miles...2/05/2022 my 2009 now has 196K miles, and like most all of these I have done nothing but change oil and filters... I have to repeat again I don't feel you can find a more reliable car to own and drive.. One thing I have found is the new body style 2010's seem to have some issues, but by 2011 were back to very reliable...
4.75 out of 5 stars
147,000 miles so far, zero problem
2008 Toyota Prius Standard 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I am an extreme commuter and I would not have been able to do this without my beloved Prius. After 4 years I have about 147,000 miles on the car and have had zero problem so far. I average about 47 - 54 mpg depending on how fast I drive. If I drive 75 mph I will get about 45-47 mpg. If I drive 65 mph I would get around 52 mpg. I still have the original brakes and my mechanic told me … that it still has 75% of life left. This is due to regenerating braking and my most highway driving. The OEM tires lasted 60k miles. I replaced them with the Michelin HydroEdge tires and after 87k they are still good for another 20k miles according to my mechanic.
2008 Prius Highlights
- Combined MPG
- 46 MPG
- Cost to Drive
- 5 seats
- front wheel drive
- Engine Type
- 3 years / 36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintMarginal
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
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More about the 2008 Toyota Prius
Used 2008 Toyota Prius Overview
The Used 2008 Toyota Prius is offered in the following submodels: Prius Hatchback. Available styles include 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), Touring 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), and Standard 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). Pre-owned Toyota Prius models are available with a 1.5 L-liter hybrid engine, with output up to 110 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Toyota Prius comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic.
What's a good price on a Used 2008 Toyota Prius?
Price comparisons for Used 2008 Toyota Prius trim styles:
- The Used 2008 Toyota Prius Standard is priced between $5,890 and$11,994 with odometer readings between 64706 and233244 miles.
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Which used 2008 Toyota Priuses are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Toyota Prius for sale near. There are currently 6 used and CPO 2008 Priuses listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,890 and mileage as low as 64706 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Toyota Prius.
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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Toyota Prius?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.
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