2004 - 2009 Toyota Prius Review

Date Posted: October 1,2008


2008 Toyota PriusToyota introduced the Prius in 1997 in the Japanese market, and brought it to North America in 2001. The redesigned model came out in 2004 and continued through 2008 (possibly 2009?). This review is based on my experience of owing a 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid. All models from 2004 through 2009 are nearly identical so this review may apply to other years as well.

The fact that you burn no gas while other vehicles are idling is a great feature. The fact that you can start from a low speed on electric power only is phenominal. I wish every new vehicle had the idle-stop feature, think of all the cars idling in even ONE drive-thru in a day. The fact that other car companies are talking the talk and not walking the walk like Toyota was one of the reasons I chose a Prius hybrid. Ford has the Escape hybrid, but in my opinion, it's a joke. Same goes for GM's full-size SUVs. People don't want SUVs anymore, I wish the domestic automakers could respond a bit quicker to the market. Dodge, well it wasn't until now that they came out with a hybrid, and it's a full-size SUV. Wake up guys! OK, rant over, sorry about that :-)

My 2008 Prius Hybrid

I had driven a company Prius back in around 2004 and absolutely loved the car. As much as I wanted one I just couldn't afford it for a few more years. I had a real problem spending over even $25,000 CDN on a vehicle, however this Prius cost about $37,000 CDN minus a $2,000 federal government eco-rebate (in Canada). To top it off, Toyota Canada dropped the price of the 2008 Prius two months after I bought mine by $1,900. They wouldn't reimburse me though, oh well. Trust me I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm buying a new car. To be honest I was sold on the car before I set foot on the dealer's lot. I test drove the Civic and the Prius. I had test-driven a number of other vehicles in the last year or two so I didn't test drive other products like the Mazda 6, Toyota Matrix, and others.

I purchased my 2008 Toyota Prius hybrid in April 2008 from the local dealership. They were able to locate the configuration and color that I wanted that was in transport to another city. They redirected it to my dealer and I had the car in a week. I really like the Barcelona Red, it's my favorite color on the Prius. I like it better than the earlier Salsa Red which is a bit darker. Barcelona red is metallic so the sun really makes the color pop. As of now I have over 9,000 km on it (~5,800 miles) in just over 5 months. It's been back to the dealer for it's first oil change but that's it, so far it's been more reliable than my last vehicle, a 2007 Jeep Compass.

After doing some research at one thing became clear, the paint chips easily on the front-end of the Prius. So I had a 3M clear bra installed shortly after buying the car. They did the front bumper, hood (half-way up), mirrors, and behind the door handles for $400. The dealer made a billing mistake, they should have charged me more but they quoted me about $100 less and honored that price. So far the 3M clear bra has held up really well. There's no peeling, yellowing, or anything else. It comes with a warranty, I can't remember how long it is off-hand, I think it's like 1 - 2 years.

Toyota Prius InteriorAll Prius' come with the same powertrain. A 1.5L inline 4 cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and an electric motor. The 2008 Prius hybrid is rated at 71 mpg city, 67 mpg highway (imperial MPG) according to Transport Canada. That makes it the most fuel efficient car on the market. I had briefly considered the Smart Fortwo but in reality it's not a good choice for a family, plus it gets slightly worse mileage now that it has a gas engine (we used to have a diesel Fortwo in Canada). In the US, the same car is rated for 48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway.

So far my Prius has been a great car and I'm pretty excited to own and drive it. The MFD multi-function display is the touch-screen display in the middle. It's really neat, it gives you real-time mileage readings, let's you control the heat, A/C, bluetooth phone setup, stereo, etc. This car is one sophisticated automobile and I can't wait to see the next generation of Prius cars. Rumor has it the next gen Prius car will have a small solar panel on the roof to help handle some of the load the air conditioning uses.

Well that's about it for my review. Oh, one other thing. One thing I feel is missing is an EV button. On Prius cars outside North America they come with an EV - electric only mode button which lets you drive for short periods without the gas engine kicking in. There is a mod you can do on some models to do that but I'd like to see that as standard equipment in 2009 / 2010.



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