2008 Toyota Prius

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48 CITY / 45 HWY
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What Changed for 2008:
  • More affordable Standard package replaces Base package

  • Cruise control, tonneau cover, wheel trim ring deleted from Standard model

  • Heated mirrors and seat-back pockets also deleted from Standard model

  • Increased production for 2008

  • EPA fuel-economy formula changes

  • EPA estimated mileage 48 mpg city/45 mpg highway
When the original Prius went on sale in Japan in December of 1997, it became the world's first mass-produced hybrid car. Toyota offered the Prius for sale in North America as a 2001 model. Toyota introduced the second-generation Prius for the 2004 model year as a larger 5-door hatchback with improved acceleration and fuel economy. The new Prius offered Camry-like interior space, hatchback convenience, and futuristic styling inside and out.

In addition to Toyota's regular warranty-3 years/36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 5 years/60,000 miles on the powertrain-Toyota warrants the hybrid components, including traction battery, control modules, and inverter, for 8 years or 100,000 miles.

Model Lineup
For 2008, the Toyota Prius is sold in Standard, Base and Touring Edition models. A more affordable Prius with the Standard package deletes cruise control, heated mirrors, seat-back pockets and a few other features from the 2007 Base model. The regular Prius grade gets those items. Standard on all Prius models are automatic air conditioning, intermittent rear-window wiper, power windows and locks, and remote keyless entry. The Prius Touring Edition gets a stiffer European-tuned sport suspension, HID headlights, a larger rear spoiler, 16-inch alloy wheels, and fog lights. Options include a Smart Key system with a push-button starter, 9-speaker JBL audio system, and a navigation system. Various packages offer differing mixes of optional features.

The 2008 Toyota Prius combines a 76-hp 1.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor to produce a combined output of 110 hp. While that may not seem like much, consider that the electric motor produces a V-8-like 295 lb.-ft. of torque from 0 to 1200 rpm. Toyota pins its 0 to 60 mph time at about 10 seconds. Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, now in its third generation, shifts between gasoline and electricity, the latter stored in a hidden battery compartment that uses regenerative braking power from the motion of the Prius. An electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT) is the only available transmission.

The EPA fuel economy formula is revised for all models for 2008. The Prius is now rated at 48 mpg city/45 mpg highway, down from 60 mpg city/51 mpg highway in 2007, although the vehicle's actual mileage doesn't change.

Standard safety equipment includes dual front air bags; front seat-mounted side air bags; and front and rear side curtain air bags. The anti-lock braking system includes Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist, which applies extra pressure in panic-stop situations. Options include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and a rear back-up camera with images displayed on the Prius' dashboard monitor once the car is shifted into Reverse.

Besides the Prius' aerodynamic profile-measured at .026 coefficient of drag-the car's Hybrid Synergy Drive system works to constantly improve fuel efficiency, according to Toyota. When the car stops, the car's gasoline engine turns off. Under gentle acceleration, power comes solely from the Prius' electric motor. Once up to speed, the gasoline engine and the motor and battery pack can be used in tandem for more power. During braking, kinetic energy is stored in the car's battery.

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