2008 Toyota Prius Review

Many of us have long believed that the latest Toyota Prius model was the first hybrid car available on world markets, when, in fact, the Prius is in its third generation at the global level and in its second in Canada. Here's some trivia for you: The first Prius was sold only in Japan and was available by special order on other markets, such as England.

The Prius is known for its love affair with aesthetics that are off the beaten path.

Another interesting Prius fact is that it is currently the only car on the market that is noiseless during regular driving.

A unique look
The Prius is known for its love affair with aesthetics that are off the beaten path, and this generation is no exception. However, the third/second generation (depending on the case) is becoming stale. The Prius's look started off as contemporary, but now that the rest of Toyota's line has incorporated many of its aesthetic elements, the Prius looks like nothing more than a big Yaris. With an interior similar to that of its sister, the Camry, the Prius is considered a mid-size sedan.

The Prius's roof line and hatch give it a uniqueness that makes it stand out in its segment. Of course, you either love its style or you don't. In fact, everything related to the Prius's design or look is unconventional: its contour, its dashboard, even the gearshift lever is one-of-a-kind. However, one thing to which the Prius remains true is Toyota's trademark flawless interior and exterior finish.

Flawless interior
The interior is equally unique: In a word, the dashboard is special. The instruments, including the analog odometer, are concentrated in the upper portion of the dashboard at the base of the windshield. Everything else is centred in the central console, which is protruding and quite intrusive in the cabin.

There are few gadgets other than the central screen, which indicates drivetrain in real time.

The instruments, including the analog odometer, are concentrated in the upper portion of the dashboard.The fact that the Prius is mid-sized and that it comes with a hatch gives it roominess and space that are unsurpassed in its class. Getting in is easy in the front and headroom is generous, but legroom is another story. When it comes to the rear seats, the headroom is truly surprising, especially when you take into account the roof's curve to the rear hatch.

The rear bench can be folded down, providing for rather exceptional cargo space.

The rear bench can be folded down, providing for rather exceptional cargo space. There is obviously less cargo space when the seats are up, but it is noteworthy nonetheless. In terms of comfort, the seats seriously lack lateral support. The driving position is a little low, especially considering the massive headroom. Comfort takes a backseat when it comes to the suspension, which fails to fully filter bumps on the road.

Thank goodness there are two engines!
If you are an environmentalist who is fond of high performance, I'm afraid you'll have to content yourself with saving the planet, because performance does not go hand-in-hand with the Prius. Like all hybrids, the Prius has two engines: one is a traditional four-cylinder gasoline engine generating 76-horsepower, and the other is an electric motor that helps boost the latter.

Acceleration, if we can call it that, is anything but instantaneous. But that isn't a big deal in itself because the vehicle was designed that way, as acceleration consumes more fuel and the purpose of the Prius is to consume less fuel. The Prius's overall engine performance is very good for a hybrid. The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) might not be an example of speed, either, but once again, the focus is on reducing fuel consumption. Speaking of fuel efficiency, the Prius has the best average among hybrids.

The 4-cylinder engine explosion is supported by an electric motor.
Conclusion
Buying a Toyota Prius is an act of love for the environment. Its style might have become generic over the years and its performance might be completely lacking, but people buy the Prius for its fuel efficiency and interior space.

Buying a Toyota Prius is an act of love for the environment.

Despite everything, it is still an extraordinary vehicle that is a beacon for alternative engine technologies. One last bit of trivia: Since 2006, Prius sales have jumped 37% on the North American market. Not bad for a car that was launched only four years ago.
Photos: Toyota

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