With the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid pretty much now here (in the US market), it looks as though the 2017 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid has some serious competition.
So, how do the two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) offerings stack up against each other? That’s a hard comparison, as they seem to be targeting somewhat different customers — the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is more energy efficient and a bit cheaper, but with less all-electric range (the 2017 Chevy Volt has an EPA-rated all-electric range more than double that of the Prius Prime).
So, how to choose? Arguably, the Prius Prime’s 25-mile all-electric range can meet most people’s daily travel needs, but if the buyer in question has a longer commute and doesn’t want to use any gas at all for it, then the Volt could well be a better choice (53-mile range).
The situation with pricing is similarly nuanced. While the Prius Prime is notably cheaper upfront, when available federal tax credits are factored in, the difference is less than it seems at first.
To explain, the 2017 Chevy Volt starts at ~$34,000 and the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime starts at ~$28,000, but the Volt is eligible for the full $7,500 tax credit (presuming you owe that much in taxes) whereas the Prius Prime is only eligible for a $4,500 federal tax credit (because of the smaller battery).
So, again, the financials will vary somewhat based on your income level — if you don’t pay more than $4,500 in federal taxes a year anyways, the fact that the Volt qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit doesn’t matter.
With regard to performance, the 2017 Chevy Volt does seem to come out ahead — though, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is reportedly a noticeable improvement over predecessors with regard to response and handling. Also notable is that the Prime is in all-electric mode by default — with the combustion engine only being relied upon after the battery is drained. That means that the instant torque that electric vehicles are known for is available most of the time. This EV benefit wasn’t highlighted as much in the first-gen Toyota Prius PHEV. But the Volt is still spunkier.
- the Volt has 149 horsepower, an 18.4 kilowatt-hour battery pack, and a fuel economy of 42 mpg;
- the Prius Prime has 121 horsepower, an 8.8 kilowatt-hour battery pack, and a 54 mpg fuel economy.
Also notable is that the Prius Prime really only has spacing for 4, while you can technically fit a 5th person in the Volt if you need to (not easily, but yeah).
So, depending on needs and income levels, it seems that either one of the two models could make more sense than the other.