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Plug-in Hybrids: Which one has better performance

The market for plug-in hybrids is getting crowded. Chevrolet introduced the Volt in 2011. Hyundai brought out their Ioniq plug-in hybrid in 2017 and the Prius Prime was also introduced in 2017. How do their drive trains and safety technology compare?
Posted: May 3, 2018 - 7:40AM
Author: John Falk

The Volt, Prius Prime and Hyundai Ioniq take similar paths with their drive train technology with different results. The Chevrolet Volt uses a 18.4 kWh battery. The battery uses a thermal management system that sends Glycol liquid through the battery cells to maintain an even temperature at all times. The electric battery range is 53 miles. The Volt has a 1.5 liter engine generating 149 HP. Combined with the electric motor it generates 294 pound feet of torque. The equivalent MPGe mileage rating is 106. The Volt hits 60 MPH in 7.4 seconds. The range on a full tank of gas and electric power is 373 miles. Charge times are approximately 9 hours using a 129 volt hookup. A 240 volt hookup takes 4 hours.

Prius Prime.
The Prius Prime uses a 8.8 kWh battery. It does not use a thermal management system. The electric range is 25 miles. The gas engine generates 95 HP. Combined with the battery it provides 105 Pound feet of torque. The equivalent MPGe rating is 133. The Prime hits 60 MPH in 9.6 seconds. The range on a full tank of gas and electric power is 475 miles. Charging times are 5 1/2 hours using 120 volt hookup and 2 hours for a 240 setup.

Hyundai Ioniq.
The Hyundai Ioniq a fan cooled battery with no thermal management. It has an 8.9 kWh battery. The electric range is rated at 29 miles. The Ioniq gas engine generates 104 HP and with the battery combined generates 125 pound feet of torque. The equivalent MPGe figure is 119. The Ioniq hits 0-60 in 8.9 seconds. The range on a full tank of gas is 630 miles. Charge times are 4 hours using a 120 volt setup and approximately 3 hours with a 240 setup.

So which is better.
The Volt has a larger battery pack providing 53 miles of estimated range on a charge. What no one talks about when reviewing electric cars is that most owners report getting a good percentage more range than the EPA rating. Volt owners have reported getting as much as 70 miles of range. This is of course in temps above 45 degrees. Some of the range is regeneration but with my generation 1 Volt in the summer I can get 50 miles of range. Aggressive acceleration, highway speeds and use of heating and cooling will of course lower your range.

The 0-60 times are slower with the Prius and Ioniq. Both of those cars use the gas engine to assist when you need to accelerate quickly up to speed. The regen mode is more aggressive in the Volt. Whether you are taking your foot off the gas or using the regen paddles. The Prius has a B mode for more regen that operates when you take your foot off the accelerator. The Ioniq has regen paddles and like all of these models regeneration also happens when you are stopping the car using the brakes.

Final Thoughts
All three cars are great options for buyers. Make no mistake the Prius Prime outsells the Volt and the Ioniq. The Ioniq is new and will definitely find buyers. But when it comes to packaging and performance the Volt has better engineering. It accelerates faster. It handles and rides better. It goes 53 miles on a charge and you can wring out more with a more conservative driving style. The styling reminds most people of the previous generation Honda Civic. I think it has it's own style details that make it standout. The one area GM needs to improve is the safety features. To get the features standard on the Prius, you have to move up to the premium model.

The Prius Prime has odd styling that buyers obviously like and I get that. It is unique enough that people feel good while driving their Prius. And isn't that what it's about after all. The handling is not exceptional. The same goes for it's acceleration. The electric range is half of the Volt. These are definitely not deal breakers for the Prius buyer. All of the Prius safety features come standard even on the base model. The quality and longevity of the car is the main reason for the sales figures. The Prius has a long and proven track record.

The Ioniq is the new kid on the block. It is a compelling vehicle. It has great standard safety features like the Prius. It has the Hyundai warranty 10 years 100,00 miles. The styling has traditional styling that doesn't scream electric car. Like the Prius, the Ioniq needs to have better performance characteristics to compete with the Volt. Competition in the electric car market is a good thing for us all. For Volt owners though a drive train that uses no engine assist is the only way to fly. Driving in electric mode is pure unassisted electric power until you exhaust the battery. And with the Volt's performance characteristics, exhausting the battery is easy to do. The Volt is the only one in this group that provides that.