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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
Throttle response is best between 25-55mph
Acceleration is roughly equivalent to that of a four-cylinder Toyota Camry
Toyota isn't doing itself any favors with the Touring's sport tuning
The 2008 Toyota Prius is no speed machine, but then again, it never pretends to be. Rather, when it comes to meeting the Toyota Prius's goal of excellent fuel economy and practical driving in a capable package, few cars do it better.
Acceleration and engine performance in the 2008 Toyota Prius are a mixed bag thanks to the combination powertrain found in the car. Edmunds notes that the unusual powertrain on the 2008 Toyota Prius, known as the Hybrid Synergy Drive, "consists of a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and two electric motors" whose combined "net peak horsepower is 110." With only the electric motor and batteries, Edmunds says the Toyota Prius can "accelerate up to about 25 mph.” The added boost of the gasoline engine provides decent, if not glorious, power for the Toyota 2008 Prius. ConsumerGuide notes "slow movement away from a stop accounts for a middling 10.5 sec 0-60 mph," but adds that once the gasoline engine kicks in, the "Prius picks up speed nicely...and copes reasonably well with traffic." ForbesAutos finds that, overall, "acceleration is roughly equivalent to that of a four-cylinder Toyota Camry."
Cars.com points out that the hybrid engine system "teams with a continuously variable automatic transmission" that replaces a more traditional automatic or manual transmission on the Toyota 2008 Prius. One of the benefits of this transmission is that it always keeps the engine in the proper rev range, which Edmunds says helps the Toyota Prius achieve "smooth and consistent" acceleration "from rest all the way to top speed." The transmission also improves efficiency, with ForbesAutos writing that the 2008 Toyota Prius returns "excellent fuel economy" with an EPA-estimated 48 mpg city and 45 mpg highway.
Most reviewers find that handling on the Toyota Prius is admirable for city driving, but none pushed it hard. Edmunds loves the Prius here, lauding the hybrid's "light electric steering, tight turning circle, [and] excellent visibility." However, ConsumerGuide thinks the electric steering feel is different from many other cars and has qualms with the 2008 Toyota Prius's "soft suspension and fairly skinny, economy-based tires," which contribute to "marked cornering lean and noseplow." Cars.com sides with Consumer Guide, saying that "Toyota isn't doing itself any favors with the Touring's sport tuning," since it would take much more than a suspension upgrade to make the Prius a sporty vehicle. Edmunds finds that while the soft suspension hurts turning, it does "provide an acceptably smooth ride."
You can't argue with the test results--the 2008 Toyota Prius is the most fuel-efficient car in America, and when the gasoline engine kicks in, it is capable of passing with ease.