Over the past decade or so, hybrid and electric vehicles have started to take to the road in record numbers. Vehicle manufacturers have made these vehicles a priority especially over the past several years, as concerns about rising fuel prices, climate change, and fuel economy have all become of chief concern to many drivers. There are a couple models in particular that have taken the lead in the EV and hybrid vehicle battle — those being the Toyota (NYSE:TM) Prius and more recently, the Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Volt.
The Prius has been a success for Toyota since its introduction to the United States in the early 2000s. Before the Prius was on sale, it was rare to see hybrid or electric vehicles cruising the roads of an American city, but now it is a common occurrence. The Prius paved the way for other vehicle makers to try its hand at mass-produced hybrids, which led to Chevrolet announcing its own model, the Volt. Having only been available for a few years, the Volt has quickly gained popularity, and is currently rated the one of the most fuel-efficient cars available.
When stacked against each other, the two models really shine. We took five categories to match the Prius Plug-in variation and the Chevrolet Volt up head-to-head. While we do not declare a clear-cut winner (since we have not been afforded the opportunity to slide behind the wheel of either), our comparison does bring out the strengths and flaws of each vehicle.
Read on for the head-to-head comparison between the Prius Plug-in and the Chevy Volt.
1. Cargo & Passenger Space
The first category we dive into is passenger and cargo space. To begin, the Prius Plug-in jumps ahead right off the bat with seating capacity for five, while the Volt lists room for four. One extra passenger in the Prius gives it a distinct advantage immediately. As far as total passenger space, the Prius also eats the Volt’s lunch, boasting 93.7 cubic feet of space compared to 90.3 for the Volt.
When it comes to cargo volume, the Prius ticks in at 21.6 cubic feet, while the Volt once again lags behind with a mere 10.6. The exterior dimensions of the both vehicles are more or less the same, varying in height, length and width by only a few inches. However, it’s clear that Toyota engineers found a way to get way more out of the interior space with the dimensions given.
Winner: Prius Plug-in
2. Fuel Economy & Range
Built to deliver excellent fuel economy, both the Volt and Prius Plug-in come through with fantastic results. The Prius Plug-in is able to achieve a combined 50 miles per gallon in hybrid mode, but when switched into all-electric, it can reach an impressive 95 mpge. It’s range, however, is a mere 11 miles in electric-only mode, in which it can reach speeds of up to 62 mph.
The Volt comes out the victor in terms of range, with the ability to go a full 38 miles on a fully charged battery. Combined with a full tank of gas that acts as a generator, the Volt can go achieve ten fold that amount, reaching an 380 mile range. As far as fuel economy, the Volt can pull off 35 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway, lagging behind the Prius a bit. However, in electric mode, 98 mpge is the average achievement.
Winner: Chevy Volt
As far as features, the Prius Plug-in comes with standard heated seats, LED daytime running lights, an app-based entertainment system, and integrated back-up camera. An impressive list, but features that buyers would expect when purchasing a new vehicle this day and age. Model variations add some cool extras, including an enhanced sound system, a heads up display, and a hybrid app that drivers can use on their smart phone that is integrated into the cars software. In all, Toyota has been able to put together an impressive slate.
The most stand-out feature the Volt brings to the table is its sporty exterior. In looks alone, the Volt outclasses the Prius in every way. Probably the most prominent feature on the vehicle’s interior is the entertainment system, enhanced with Chevy’s MyLink system that comes with navigation, radio, and Bose speakers. An advanced LCD touch screen display, charge control, and automatic climate control are other highlights. When stacked up against the Prius, it’s hard to say which vehicle is superior, so this one is a push.
For coverage, the Volt comes with the standard Chevrolet “Bumper-to-Bumper” warranty. Covering pretty much everything (including tires), this warranty will keep your Volt on the road for the first 3 years, or 36,000 miles. For the Volt in particular, however, GM offers the Voltec warranty, which is added in addition to the bumper-to-bumper. It warrants certain Voltec components for each Volt for 8 years or 100,000 miles, and includes the brakes, since they possess the regenerative function to catch energy while slowing.
The Prius Plug-in also comes with a standard 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty from Toyota. The company also goes the extra step with a warranty on all hybrid related components for 8 years or 100,000 miles that includes the battery, battery control module, and inverter with converter. There’s even a warranty on rust, which Toyota vehicles have been known to be prone to, for 60 months no matter the mileage.
Winner: It’s largely a wash, but the Toyota’s additional rust protection is a thoughtful touch.
A slight edge in price goes to the Prius Plug-in, with a base price of $30,800 (including destination.) Chevrolet likes to advertise the Volt as having a starting base price of $26,685, but that includes a net price factoring in a $7,500 tax credit. Before applying the credit, the Volt comes with a base price of $34,185, a full $4,000 more than the Prius. Of course, both models are available in a variety of trims and variations which lead to wildly different sticker prices.
The Prius Plug-in not only beats out the Volt when it comes to price, but also in-class competitors from Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Ford (NYSE:F). While most other EV and hybrid vehicles in its class have starting prices roughly around $35,000, the Prius is able to beat them all.
Winner: Prius Plug-in
Editors’ note: This post has been updated and modified to address some inaccuracies in the reporting of the Chevy Volt’s warranty coverage. We have made the necessary corrections, and thank our diligent readers for pointing it out to us.