2008 Toyota Prius


$4,303 - $4,483

2008 Toyota Prius Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2008 Toyota Prius was new.


Interior: 7.1

The interior of the 2008 Toyota Prius, most writers find, is well-constructed and made of high-quality materials, but offers a layout as unusual as the car's futuristic appearance. The one-box, hatchback shape of the Prius creates a roomy cabin despite the car's small dimensions -- it even bests many midsize sedans for both cargo capacity and passenger space. Most find the seats comfortable, although a few cite an unusual driving position and the limited adjustability of the driver's seat. Reviewers are divided, however, over the unusual layout of the cockpit instruments.

  • "It may look small, but the well-packaged and airy interior is spacious for passengers and cargo alike. Plus, a long list of standard and optional features allows the Prius to serve both customers in search of a low-priced conveyance and those in need of more luxurious trappings." -- Edmunds
  • "Up to five people fit inside the Prius, and they're likely to enjoy more elbowroom than in the original model. Standard equipment includes electric-inverter automatic air conditioning, a CD stereo, and power windows, locks and mirrors." -- Cars.com
  • "Inside, the Prius has much to crow about. At 44 cubic feet, the rear seat pegs the average of that 10-car sedan group, and the hybrid's hatch swallows 16 cubes, besting the sedan average by one." -- Car and Driver
  • "Cabin has its own hi-tech look but materials are nothing special." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The gearshifter is different, too. It's not so much a shifter or lever as it is a short, fat knob extending from the dashboard. It took me a bit of practice to learn how to move the knob from gear to gear." -- MSN


Reviews offer a mixed opinion of the '08 Prius's seats. Some find the driving position unusual, though most find it offers plenty of room. The seat material is generally well-liked, as one would expect from a Toyota product. Several writers remark on the lack of a height-adjustable driver's seat or a telescoping steering wheel, so buyers may well need to test drive the car to understand whether it can be a comfortable fit.

  • "Although the front seats are relatively roomy, the driving position in the Prius is somewhat awkward, as the driver seat is not height-adjustable and the steering wheel does not telescope" -- Edmunds
  • "The driver's seat could use more lateral support." -- Detroit News
  • "Most of the added space goes to the rear seats, where occupants have more head, shoulder, and leg room." -- Automobile Magazine
  •  + "There's about as much room in the back seat as a Camry or Accord offers, and the hatchback, somewhat disguised, adds a bit of overhead cargo space." -- U.S. News
  •  "The seats are adequately comfortable, but they're positioned oddly." -- Cars.com
  • "The seats are long-trip comfortable" -- MarketWatch
  • "The twin front seats provide adequate support. The cockpit easily accommodates four tall adults. There's room for a third slim occupant in the back, although the center of the rear bench seat isn't comfortable." -- MSN

Interior Features

Reviews of the 2008 Toyota Prius often mention the long list of available interior features. The selection essentially allows buyers to build their own Prius, outfitted as anything from basic, no-frills transportation to an entry-level luxury sedan. Many, however, note that those options can quickly push the price from near-Civic level into Lexus territory. Reviewers also comment frequently on the Prius's unusual controls. You start the Prius by pushing a button, and engage the parking brake by pushing another. The dash-mounted shift lever is smaller than most drivers are used to -- so small that more than one reviewer chose to refer to it as a "joystick" -- and in an unusual position. Touring models include a multifunction LCD touch screen that can control everything from the navigation system to the climate control, and can be configured to accept voice commands. Like many things about the Prius, its high-tech cabin features are polarizing -- some testers find them intuitive, while others call them confusing and unnecessary. Check out our GPS reviews for advice on the easiest portable navigation systems to operate.

  • "The Prius options list is extensive, capable of transforming this hybrid from an economy car to a near-luxury sedan." Edmunds
  • "The cockpit comes across as modern but unfamiliar. Some controls -- including the electronic gear selector, parking brake and start button -- might confuse drivers at first." -- Cars.com
  • "The touch-screen display in my test vehicle includes the ability to hook up my Bluetooth phone, has a calendar/reminder section, DVD-based navigation and a hybrid system monitor. Each of these items is activated by touch or by voice." -- Mother Proof
  • "Multifunction touch screen in center of dashboard absorbs most audio and climate functions, complicating their use. Default power-flow readout is distracting. Screen legibility is diminished by fingerprints and direct sunlight." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In addition to the navigation system and stability control, one of the truly cool options is hands-free access to the vehicle via onboard sensors that recognize a signal from a "smart" key in the driver's purse or pocket. The driver then pushes a start button on the dash and taps the joystick shifter to begin moving." -- Detroit News
  • "One major gripe was the tiny shift level that sprouts from the dash and operates in a unique pattern. We feel there is nothing wrong with the traditional P, R, N, D, L, and it should have been adopted here. ... A second maddening gripe was the beeper that went off when one shifted into reverse. Granted, the Prius is virtually silent when operating solely in the electric mode and anyone behind the car should be warned that a reverse move is in the works. But something better than the incessant beeping could have been adopted." -- MarketWatch


The 2008 Toyota Prius's unique one-box shape gives it a versatile hauling capacity that many testers praise. It's a hatchback competing with sedans. Its 14.4 cubic feet of trunk space rivals that of many non-hybrid midsize cars. Since most manufacturers accommodate a hybrid powertrain's large batteries by robbing from a vehicle's trunk space, this is a particularly impressive feat. The Civic and Camry hybrids, for instance, each offer just over 10 cubic feet of trunk space. Reviews also praise the Prius for its array of storage pockets and compartments, including a unique double glovebox that elicits a lot of comment from testers.

  • "The backseat offers ample room for adults and rear-facing infant seats, while the 14.4-cubic-foot rear hatchback trunk can accommodate several roller suitcases or a double stroller. Plus, the folding seatbacks provide an uninterrupted cargo area that most sedans can't match." -- Edmunds
  • "The trunk houses 16.1 cubic feet of luggage, and a 60/40-split folding rear seat gives the Prius a lot of versatility and load-hauling ability for such compact exterior dimensions." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The rear seats fold flat, which is a huge plus since the Honda Civic Hybrid's rear seats don't fold at all." -- Automobile.com
  • "Hatchback versatility, with 60/40 split folding rear seatback and 16.1 cu ft of space with four aboard. But sloped tail and high floor preclude toting tall items with hatch closed, despite large opening. Useful under-floor storage, plus roomy console bin and twin dashboard gloveboxes." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The big rear hatch opening can swallow a 25-inch TV with no problem." -- Kelley Blue Book

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