MPG-o-Matic Toyota Prius Review Summary: The space age-styled Toyota Prius hybrid delivers chart-topping fuel economy, a quiet ride, and a surprising amount of interior room.
The 2008 Toyota Prius competes most closely with the Honda Civic Hybrid, and clearly leads the current pack of hybrids when it comes to gas mileage, recognition, and sales. Under the hood, the 2008 Prius is fitted with a Hybrid Synergy Drive system consisting of a 1.5 liter DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four cylinder engine and electric motor mated to an electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT). The system produces a total of 110 net horsepower (HP).
The official gas mileage estimates for the 2008 Toyota Prius are 48 city/45 highway miles per gallon (MPG).
In over five hundreds of miles of driving, our bright Barcelona Red Prius glided past the official estimates with ease, scoring an average of 48.9 MPG on the highway, with 53.2 MPG combined.
But for all its gas mileage goodness, the Prius does take its time getting up to highway speeds from a standing start.
It’s safe to say that no one buys a Prius for its straight line acceleration. The strengths of the Prius are its great gas mileage, quiet operation, and as a Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV), its minimal impact on the environment.
The cabin of the Prius is decidedly space-age, with the LCD touch screen taking center stage. Steering wheel controls are comprehensive.
The Prius comes configured with one of six option packages. Our test unit was kitted out with Package #5, which includes a JBL six-speaker audio system, hands-free Bluetooth, voice-activated navigation system, backup camera, vehicle stability control, Smart Key System, and a host of other features.
iPod integration is provided with most option packages, via a concealed center console auxiliary jack. There are two power outlets, one in the console and one beneath the dashboard.
The hatchback provides a wide portal to the Prius’ versatile and easily configured cargo bay. While the 60/40 rear seats do not have remote releases, they fold flat, providing ample room to haul your stuff around … unlike many competing hybrids where cargo capacity and flexibility are sacrificed to make room for the batteries.
Although it can’t be accused of being luxurious, the Prius’ back seat offers plenty of space for two passengers to ride in comfort, with adequate legroom.
We found the Prius to be a formidable choice for folks in the market for a car with the best possible gas mileage. While the styling might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the numbers live up to their billing.
With the Prius, as with all of the Toyota Hybrids, you need to minimize the usage of the gasoline engine to get the best gas mileage. The Prius produces exceptional results at speeds under 40 miles per hour when the Synergy system can shut the gasoline engine down in favor of electric drive. Once you learn the techniques, you’ll optimize your fuel economy.
- by Daniel Gray
September 10th, 2008
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