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Original MSRP: $21,500 - $23,770
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2008 Toyota Prius Review

Review Last Updated: 2/18/09

These scores and this review are from when the car was new.

The Prius ranks solidly in the middle of the pack when considered as a hybrid or as a midsize sedan. The Prius's ranking is based on its industry-leading fuel economy, combined with a spacious interior and a standard equipment package that make it competitive as a midsize car, not just a hybrid. However, its styling continues to divide reviewers even after nearly five years on the market, and it sacrifices performance in the pursuit of fuel efficiency. In our hybrid rankings, the 2008 Prius falls behind its corporate cousin, the 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid, as well as the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid. Those vehicles don't achieve quite the level of fuel efficiency that drives the Prius's fame, but they also do not suffer some of the performance compromises the Prius makes in pursuit of fuel economy. Little has changed in the Prius for 2008, a car which has not had a major redesign since 2004. One important change for 2008 is the introduction of a "standard" trim which lacks features like heated mirrors and cruise control, but is available at a lower cost than the "base" trim level.

The automotive press sees the 2008 Toyota Prius as both a technological marvel that achieves better fuel efficiency than nearly any other vehicle every built, and as an average midsize family car. The Prius was named a Consumer Reports Top Pick for 2008 (as well as each of the preceding four years). The car's unique hatchback body is mostly well-liked, although it has a few detractors. Its interior is considered well-built and reasonably comfortable, though packed with quirky technologies that some see as unnecessary. It is as safe as most midsize cars and offers Toyota's legendary reliability. The current generation of Prius debuted in the 2004 model year, and it is unusual for Toyota to leave a design on the market for so long. A planned redesign has been pushed back several times as battery technology evolves, but with the escalating price of gasoline, a redesigned Prius is expected for 2009.

  • "For those who want their car to serve as a green badge of commitment, the Prius is still the answer." --Car and Driver
  • "Whatever your opinion about its shape, there is no denying the car is packed with technology and is a marked improvement over its predecessor." -- Road and Track
  • "I have to admit, this might just be the most impressive vehicle I have ever driven." Automobile.com:
  • "Already in its second generation when most manufacturers have yet to introduce their first hybrids, the Prius represents the engineering might of Toyota and perhaps the future of gasoline-powered automobiles." --Automobile Magazine
  • "On the whole the Prius is so proficient for its price that it should no longer be categorized as a quirky, alternative-fuel vehicle, but as an above-average mass-market sedan that just happens to have some extra brains under the hood. --U.S. News:
  •  "The new Prius is an especially good vehicle for urban dwellers." --Chicago Sun-Times

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