Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Toyota Prius New York's editors researched a wide range of road tests of the 2008 Toyota Prius to write this definitive review.'s resident experts also drove the 2008 Toyota Prius to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

- Fuel economy

- Roomy cabin

- Hatchback utility

- Digital gauges

- Price premium

- Steering feel

- Midgrade interior materials
The 2008 Toyota Prius is the most successful hybrid vehicle to date. It's become popular largely based on its great fuel economy of up to 48 mpg, its five-passenger capability, and of course, the stunning rise in gas prices in the last five years.
The 2008 Toyota Prius looks like an anonymous hatchback on the outside. Inside, the layout of the dash indicates this is no ordinary vehicle. The dash behind the steering wheel is empty; the speedo and other gauges are relegated to strip at the top of the dash, while a large centered information display reads out fuel economy and climate-control settings, as well as controlling the radio. (It also houses the available navigation system).
Push the Start button--there's no ignition slot--and shift the stubby electronic lever into drive, and you're off. The front-drive Prius gets its juice from a gas-electric powertrain that can operate in pure electric mode at low speeds and while the vehicle is idling. The gas engine is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that can run on regular unleaded; the batteries lie under the cargo floor and recharges via the engine and by power otherwise lost during braking. The continuously variable automatic transmission keeps the Prius humming in its ideal operating range and helps it achieve 48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway.
Performance isn't the Prius's main concern, but city power is plenty strong, and on the highway, the 2008 Toyota Prius can pass with a safe measure of speed. Steering feel is artificial, the brakes are only average, and the ride can get bumpy and noisy, since the tires are skinny, and there's not as much sound deadening as in a more luxurious car.
The 2008 Toyota Prius is an almost mid-size vehicle that offers exceptional roominess compared with other cars in its class. The 2008 Toyota Prius has good room for four adults and a useful hatchback for cargo. Seating is comfortable, but the seats themselves and much of the interior are finished in lightweight, inexpensive plastics.
Front, side, and curtain airbags are now standard on the 2008 Toyota Prius, and crash-test scores of mostly four stars are pretty good. The Prius also earns "good" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Bottom Line:

The 2008 Toyota Prius isn't that entertaining a car to drive, but it delivers exceptional fuel economy and a roomy interior.
Other Choices:

If you like the 2008 Toyota Prius, also consider:
Honda Civic Hybrid

Volkswagen Jetta diesel
Reason why

The high-mileage fuel economy derby has one big name--the Toyota Prius--and a couple of interesting competitors. The Honda Civic Hybrid approaches the Prius's fuel economy numbers, but has a little less interior room. The Volkswagen Jetta gets a new clean-diesel option later this year, and it could have fuel economy of up to 50 mpg or more on the highway--along with a much richer interior and a more conventional sedan shape.
Buying Tip:

With gas prices at record highs, sales of the 2008 Toyota Prius are brisk. Toyota has offered some small incentives in the past year, but paying sticker or more is going to be the rule as fuel prices stay high. The Prius has extremely high resale value; you'll pay more at the dealer, but if you ever decide to resell, the Prius should fetch a good price.