Hybrid Shootout – Chevrolet Volt vs Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius was the first successful mass-produced hybrid vehicle to make a significant impact on the U.S. auto industry. Having set the standard for the hybrid market, the Prius now faces strong competition from the Chevy Volt, which helped General Motors to emerge from its recent bankruptcy and prove it continues to produce some of the world’s best automobiles.
With the Volt offering a strong challenge to the Prius’ hybrid dominance, I decided to take a closer look at both.
Varying Degrees of ‘Hybrid’
A hybrid car uses a combination of electricity and traditional internal gasoline combustion power to move it down the road, and that’s just what the Toyota Prius does. The Chevy Volt, however, has a different take on the hybrid concept and actually uses all electric power for up to the first 50 miles of travel. That means I can use the Chevy Volt to go to the store, travel back and forth to work, run daily errands, and do other tasks without burning a single drop of gasoline. All I would have to do is plug in the battery to recharge when not in use, and that electric-only function could get me a long way each week. This makes the Volt the obvious choice for daily, short-distance driving.
Interior and Cargo Space
By any standard, the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius are compact cars, but that doesn’t mean they are uncomfortable cars. In fact, both have relatively generous passenger accommodations for their size.
While neither car likely will be pressed into regular duty carrying more than two or three people at a time, they do have cargo space for groceries, luggage, or other items. If planning a long road trip, either would be a great choice for a one or two people and still have plenty of room for luggage and a very long-range potential.
If you are like me, the phrase “compact car” conjures images of hard-jolting bumps, lots of road noise, and underpowered cars with almost no legroom. Yet, the Volt and Prius both provide comfortable rides utilizing strut suspension systems. Their interiors are relatively luxurious when compared to traditional compact cars, and the bodies were built with noise cancellation in mind. You can drive down the freeway in relative quiet and keep the car’s sound system at a reasonable volume instead of blaring it to drown out the noise from other traffic.
Safety and Satisfaction Ratings
In addition to a surprisingly quiet and comfortable ride, the Volt and Prius also score well when it comes to passenger safety. In fact, both earned Top Safety Pick awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Each car also enjoys very high owner-satisfaction ratings for low maintenance and operations costs, comfort, reliability and fuel economy.
In fact, the Volt earned the highest owner-satisfaction ratings of any vehicle in General Motor’s very long history. Considering the many decades that General Motors has been in business and the many successful cars it’s manufactured throughout its history as one of the world’s top automakers, this is particularly impressive.
If I were in the market for a new hybrid car with economical driving performance plus comfort and reliability among my primary deciding factors, I likely would be happy with either the Prius or the Volt. Both are well built, reliable and economical to operate. What sets them apart is the increased electric range the Volt has over the Prius. I drive a reasonable distance to my job each day and the Volt can get me to and from work with plenty of range left over to run errands – all on electric power. As I’m rarely filling the gas tank, I’m seeing significant savings over time and the Volt can be charged in just a few hours. Choose the Chevy Volt!