Toyota Prius Prime vs. Chevrolet Volt: Who Will Win in 2018?
I have said before that I love the Chevrolet Volt, and for a long time, it has reigned as king among the more affordable plug-in hybrids (I am setting aside the Porsche 918 Spyder from the discussion due to its huge price tag, despite how cool it is). With its 53-mile electric range, nobody really made a plug-in that could compete.
However, now a contender for the title has come shadow-boxing out of the locker room—the Toyota Prius Prime.
A few publications, including HybridCars.com and Green Car Reports have suggested that the new contender may come to seize the Volt’s place, so let’s have a look, shall we?
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Range and Efficiency
The most important part of a plug-in vehicle for many is the electric range, in which category the Volt crushes the Prius Prime, comparing its 53-mile range to a comparatively short 25 miles. However, plug-in hybrids also have their gas powertrains’ efficiency to think about, and here the Prius Prime pulls ahead with 54 mpg combined, compared to the Volt’s 42 mpg combined.
The price difference between these two isn’t insignificant, as the Chevy Volt starts at an MSRP of $34,095, while the Prius Prime ticks in at a far lower price point of $27,100. However, the Volt can claim the full federal tax incentive of $7,500 (assuming, of course, that it isn’t slashed in the next tax reform), while the Prius Prime can only lay its hands on $4,502, closing the gap somewhat.
When it comes to powertrains, at first the two hybrids seem to be pretty similar—both use an electric drive system coupled to a four-cylinder engine, with the Volt’s being a 1.5-liter, and the Prius Prime’s being a 1.8-liter.
However, the difference is in the numbers, as the Prius Prime’s powertrain delivers a net 121 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque, which seems downright anemic next to the Volt’s net 149 hp and 294 lb-ft of torque.
Now, let’s have a look at their features, comparing the entry-level models.
The exterior features of both vehicles are pretty comparable—both have LED lights all around, and there are only few small differences: the Prius Prime’s side mirrors are heated and headlights have an “auto-level” system, while the Volt uses larger wheels (17 inches to the Prius Prime’s 15 inches).
The begin with, the Volt technically seats more people—the Prius Prime only allows for four passengers, while the Volt claims five (although the center console in the Volt will make the center rear passenger officially the spot of the smallest or least-liked person in the car).
When it comes to infotainment, the Prius offers its own wide-reaching in-house Entune™ infotainment system while the Volt offers another USB port, an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot, and both Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ connectivity.
Finally, the Prius holds the edge over the Volt in terms of cargo space—when it comes to passenger area, both are pretty close, but the Prius Prime offers a manufacturer-estimated 19.8 cubic feet of cargo space, above the Volt’s 10.6 cubic feet of trunk volume.
Otherwise, it is a tradeoff—for example, the Prius has heated front seats while the Volt has an automatic climate control system.
The Volt comes in at a higher price, but with more than double the range, much stronger performance, and a slightly better-connected interior (depending on whether or not you like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, I suppose).
The Prius Prime comes in with a more affordable price, more efficient gas motor, larger trunk, and heated seats.
Personally, if I were in the market, I would spend a little more to stick with my old favorite of the Volt, partly due to its much stronger performance, partly due to the better range, and partly because I just don’t like the way new Toyotas look, the Prius in particular—something about the rear makes me think of old Japanese anime sunglasses.
We will just have to see who wins with the American public at large as the next year rolls along.
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Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.