Should You Buy a 2008 Prius?

The 2008 Prius checks off the standard marks for fuel economy and practicality, but has its fair share of complaints and technical concerns.
Written by Pat Roache
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
The 2008
checks off marks for fuel economy and practicality but has received considerable complaints for concerning problems once it reaches higher mileages. 
The hybrid hatchback from
has been a leader in the class of eco-friendly compact cars for over two decades. While more recent model years have continued to push the limits and exceed expectations, older model years still have their fair share of benefits like a lower price point for a relatively similar effect.
If a 2008 model year has popped up on your radar, then it's important to take some time to understand how this average second-gen Prius compares to the rest of its lineage. The
app is here to help with a detailed guide to the 2008 Prius—and to finding the best
car insurance
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Is the 2008 Prius worth it?

Toyota has scored many brownie points for its innovative and eco-friendly hybrid hatchback since the Prius’s release in 2001. With best-in-class fuel economy, unique style, and plenty of practicality packed into a tiny package,it’s no wonder the Prius has remained a constant in the manufacturer’s line-up.


The Prius has always prided itself on affordability and accessibility—2022 models start at just $25,650.While more recent Priuses will maintain a comparable value, the 2008 Prius has had plenty of time to see a considerable price difference on the used market.  
Here are the prices you can expect to see across the 2008 Prius’s three trim levels according to Kelley Blue Book: 
Trim level
Fair market range (dealership)
Typical dealership listing
Typical private seller listing
2008 Toyota Prius Hatchback 4D
2008 Toyota Prius Standard Hatchback 4D
2008 Toyota Prius Touring Hatchback 4D
When you do the math, a 2008 Prius costs about a quarter of the price of buying a 2022 model. You can save a lot upfront to fit a tight purchasing budget, but keep in mind that buying a car this old may see you spending more money on repairs or a quicker replacement.

Specs and performance

The 2008 Prius was the second-to-last model in the hybrid’s second generation, so it was riding on five years of developed design and performance. Overall the 2008 model delivered on Toyota’s promise of top-of-the-class fuel economy and practicality.
This second-gen Prius rides on a 1.5-liter in-line four-cylinder engine with a 50 kWpermanent magnetic synchronous electric motor. Combined, this hybrid powertrainputs out a measly 110 horsepower. Though the power may seem underwhelming, the system was advanced for its time since the gasoline engine only switches on once the car has reached 30 MPH.
The 2008 Prius boasts 48 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway. While this fuel economy doesn’t exactly break any of the hybrid’s records, it does carry the torch of exceptional EPA ratings in its class of vehicles.


Unfortunately, the 2008 Prius has a lot of margin for error, as evidenced by complaints logged with
and the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
. While it doesn’t take home the award for the most complaints, the 2008 Prius’s 255 complaints on CarComplaints and 1,791 NHTSA complaints should not fly under the radar. 
Of these complaints, the Prius 2008 suffers the most for light problems, with owners claiming $600 headlight malfunctions around 90,000 miles. Next are brake problems, engine problems, and electrical problems in order of severity. While you may be saving big bucks upfront by purchasing used, a 2008 Prius could come back to bite you in the butt with hefty repair costs sooner than later. 
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The bottom line: proceed with caution

While a 2008 Prius may seem like a steal, the variety of problems this hybrid could face once it has some mileage behind it could outweigh the benefits. This is a common problem for the 2006 to 2012 Prius model years so look for one from 2013 or more recent for more peace of mind.

Is it better to buy a used Prius or a new Prius?

Choosing between a new Prius and a used one—like any car—can depend on a variety of factors such as your budget and preferences for safety, fuel economy, and technology
If you’re on a tight budget, then buying used is likely the way to go. A 2008 Prius packs many of the same eco-friendly advantages as a newer, flashier 2022 model, for almost $20,000 less. 
If you want advanced features, you’re better off buying a new Prius or a more recent model year. While the 2008 features a relatively advanced push start/stop button, more recent models may include touchscreen infotainment and a better suite of driver assistance features—like the 2022 Prius’s Toyota Safety Sense 2.0.  
If you want a
customizable Prius
, then buying new will certainly be easier. However, customizing a used Prius can be relatively easier and cheaper with
aftermarket at-home mods.
If you want to save on a higher fuel economy—well, that’s why you’re buying a Prius in the first place! More recent models have broken into the 50s for fuel economy with the best year being the 2016 Eco model—up to 58 city/53 highway. However, that shouldn’t discredit the 2008’s impressive 48 city/46 highway EPA rating
MORE: 7 things to look for when buying a used car

Pros and cons of owning a Prius


The Prius is historically efficient, affordable, and one of the most reliable vehicles on the market. Even when you consider the 2008 Prius’s complaints, it still receives a score of 87/100 and the title of #1 compact car for the model year from
J.D. Power


The Toyota Prius doesn’t impress much as far as speed and style are concerned. The hatchback sacrifices some swagger in the name of practicality, and it can be a bit compact for anyone over the height of 6 feet. That being said, it works for some—but not all.
The Toyota Prius has also never been known for being fast, and the 2008 Prius has a zero-to-60 acceleration time of 10.9 seconds. This may not be the car for you if you can’t stand a little lag. Check out the comparable
Honda Insight
if you expect to need a zipper compact. 
MORE: How to choose an eco-friendly car

How to find the best Prius insurance

Whether your Prius is 16 years or 16 days old, you deserve a top-notch car insurance policy to keep your earth-friendly ride safe on the road. The car insurance comparison and shopping app
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