Prius Prime Premium
Peter Neilson's picture

Toyota Prius Prime Trumps Chevy Volt

Everyone loves a good underdog story, and the Chevy Volt coming into the hybrid game is no exception. The real question now becomes who the ultimate champion is in the title fight of this century. Next up Prius Prime vs Chevrolet Volt. Tickets to this event are hotter than a black leather seat on a hot summer day.
Advertisement

When I first heard of the Chevrolet Volt back in 2010 my thoughts instantly thought this car was going to destroy the Toyota Prius in every way. I mean, this is Chevrolet, an all American company that has been responsible for bringing us Corvette, and many other very famous muscle cars. I could honestly say, if this was a muscle car fight, Toyota would be given a hard run for their money.

This is not a muscle car fight though, this is a fight that most Americans think GM has no business in anyway. After all are Americans not famous for just using brute force and power to get the job done? The real question is how they stack up with each other. While I am not going to go into great depth with all of this, I will provide my thoughts in a few areas that I think have some real meaning to both vehicles.

Sound the bell and let the rumble begin.

The Appeal of Toyota Prius
Looking back at the first generation Prius, it's easy to say that the exterior look was not very appealing. As time went on Prius lost weight, took some acting lessons and gained a personality that now makes the Prius Prime actually an attractive vehicle. But where did it get the lines from? Every legend has a mentor that helped give them the encouragement needed to become who they are.

In comparing the 17 Volt to the 17 Prime it is clear to me that both cars share very similar body lines. The real question is who influenced who. I think that Volt influenced Prime for sure. Though influence does not always mean that the original looks better, and really when it comes down to it, both cars have appealing exterior design. I really adore the front end of the Prius Prime with the head lights and the grille that are sleek and oh, so satisfying. The rear end has a little left to be desired. I really think that Prime has has a few kids and also some plastic surgery, but just ran out of money to get the whole package done.

Chevy Volt on the other hand has a nice enough front end and the rear that really makes you want to drive it home. It is a good looking sedan all around and no one would really even know that it was packing some serious electrical power under that dress. I guess the question you have to ask yourself at this point, which happens to be my next point, is do you prefer experience or virgin beauty?

Experience vs Innocence

Toyota Prius came rolling into our lives and hearts much earlier that Volt. The notion of experience over innocence is a real thing. Toyota has taken nearly 2 decades to refine and chisel out the Prius. Even the first Plug in was not all that great, but practice makes perfect right?

Chevy Volt was made on the idea that there was a market share for GM to step into, and that bet was a good one. GM could have dominated the market had they stuck with EV-1, but we are not here to look at what could have been. The Volt does not have the same data and road time as the Prius. It came into the game late, pretty, technologically advanced but late.

While the Volt is a great and pretty new kid on the block, the word hybrid is synonymous with Prius for a reason.

Give Me Tech

If I had to pick out who could win an all out slugfest for who has the best tech, bells and whistles, it would be GM no doubt. The 2010 Volt had better tech than Prius in the same day. It was sleeker, the interior made you feel as if you were really driving the car of the future. Prius was busy just moving along with a slight refresh and a few interior changes that made it feel as the name suggested " to come before".

Prius has had to make some major modifications and with Prime, it has. Prius Prime has a huge tesla-sized infotainment screen that really updates the car in a massive way. The seats, now with heat, also feel super comfortable and fresh as well. The instrument cluster is colored and has many different bells and whistles that previous generations did not have.
Volt, Gen 2 still has a really great setup but the modern feel of it, still is just a little behind. This is where experience really makes a difference with building a vehicle people want.

Conclusion

When you have over 20 years of collective data that you can clearly track what your consumer wants, your car becomes the top seller again and again. I really feel that if we dove into all the aspects of both vehicles we would find many similar things between the two. They are both plug in hybrid vehicles, they both use Li-Ion batteries, they both have really great tech options and honestly, they are both pretty darn good looking.

I do feel that Prius Prime does trump Chevy Volt just due to the sheer amount of data that Toyota has to prove how much better the Toyota Hybrid System is over the competition.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about new Prius Technology. Check out my other story 3 Top Tire Brands You Should Consider For Your Toyota Prius to find even more ways to make that fuel sipper go the extra mile.

Also Watch New tech means more MPG from your Toyota Prius and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota Prius and Automotive News.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and at Certified Consulting


Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.


Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

The original Prius was based on the Toyota Echo economy car, so it was awkward looking (at best) and offered quite slow acceleration. But it got very good fuel economy and Toyota took a big risk (and financial loss) in designing and building the original car, and sticking with the Prius. But it eventually paid off in establishing Toyota as an innovator, and created the green car genre. I have to say that I am biased with reference to the Chevy Volt. I leased two Gen 1 Volts, and then bought one, and now I still have a Cadillac ELR which shares the Voltec EV drivetrain. The second generation Prius looked more traditional, but like the Nissan Leaf it still had slightly odd styling as many early EVs did to visually set them apart from other cars (like the Toyota Mirai FCEV today). In contrast the first Volt had bold, sharp styling, and looked much more sporty. And unlike the Prius, it was not a traditional hybrid, which ran on electricity up to 25MPG, and then always ran higher speeds using the gas engine. The Volt would run purely on electricity until it's 35-40 EV miles range was used up, and then it would run on gasoline with it's range extender engine. You could then recharge it up again at home for a fraction the cost of gasoline. Both the Volt and Prius had a gasoline engine so they never had any range anxiety that came with early electric only cars which only offered about twice the Volt's EV range, but then had to be recharged or towed if you ran out of juice on the road. The 2nd Generation Volt was improved in every way with better range 50EV miles+, and better gas mileage on the range extender gas engine (50MPG+). I thought it was even sportier than the Gen 1 Volt and it was faster too despite improved fuel economy. But Toyota improved the Prius' styling as well with later models and the Prius Prime looks nice, and is not as slow as earlier models were. Plus the Prius Prime is a real plug-in hybrid meaning it can actually drive for about 25 miles on electricity alone like the Volt, and then manages gas mileage in the 50s running as a regular hybrid. Like the Chevy Volt, the Toyota Prius kept improving which made it a top seller in it's class, and even with new competition in the market like the Honda Clarity PHEV, the Toyota still keeps going strong. Unfortunately, while trying to make higher short term profits, GM dropped out of the PHEV market altogether, killing off the Volt and Cadillac PHEV models, leaving only the Bolt (BEV) to compete in the EV market. So far, it looks like the Toyota Prius won the race in the long run. This year the Toyota Corolla came out as a hybrid model, which was solely the Prius' market before, and the future plans are rumored to have the Prius model lineup be all BEVs, and the rest of the Toyota models will be available in hybrid and PHEV versions in addition to gas only models. This is another bold move by Toyota because it will have more of an impact in moving forward automotive electrification than having one or two BEVs in a vast sea of gas-only cars, SUVs and trucks. Kudos Toyota.
WOW! The Prius Prime and the Volt are two very different EV's. The Volt is an Extended Range Electric Vehicle that drives only on an Electric Motor making for fun acceleration even when running on gas. The Prius is a Plug in Hybrid in that it has two drive motors, an EV motor with a measly 40Km / 25m range and a ICE! So even in the city, you would need to burn gasoline on most days! My 2018 Volt gives me a max 130Km / 80m of city driving during the summer. I can drive it with an empty gas tank as long as I can plug it in at the end of the day. I get 100Km / 62m of highway mileage during the summer. During the Ontario winter I lose 25% of my range. However if I want to go long distances, I can select the Hold mode and run on gasoline only (with a summer range of 625Km / 390m and in winter 525m / 325m, reserving my battery power for use at my destination. Can't imagine comparing these two cars like equals as far as EV's go??
Okay so I can appreciate the idea of this article. Unfortunately the Chevrolet Volt was discontinued. As we all know Volt owners are passionate about their cars. Our devotion is not misplaced. The volt lasted from 2011 until model year 2019. That’s 8 years of expertise. It is not a perfect car but then there is no such thing as a perfect car. I have owned my 2014 since 2017. I have 101,000 miles on it. Not one problem. Nothing on the car has fallen off. Interior is in fine condition and holds together extremely well. But here is the true distinction. Engineering. The volt does get 26 electric miles in winter. 45-50 electric miles in summer. The battery pack is liquid cooled to maintain maximum performance in any temperature. The joys of driving electric is great. 0-30 in about 2.6 seconds. Up to 40 mph a volt will smoke a vast majority of cars out there except performance cars. But the other great thing is the power train is pure electric. 0- top speed pure and with no gas engine assist. The Prius uses gas if you push the pedal past a certain point. The Honda clarity does this also. That alone sets the volt apart from every other car of it’s type. The volt engineering is par excellance. Doors close with a satisfying thunk. Can’t say that about Toyota. A new owner from Canada has taken delivery of sparky. A Chevy volt with about 470,000 miles on it. Original owner worked for GM. The batteries don’t catch fire. Very few recalls. And excellent car. The volt has it’s place in automotive history. So does the Prius but the volt is the superior automobile bar none
I fully agree Volt has a place for sure. It is sad GM let it go. I really think it could have rivaled the Prime in so many ways had it been able to hang on longer. This is one reason, I found it king over the Volt.
For me, confidence in Toyota quality is #1, but still, I would love a complete comparison between, owning and driving the Toyota Prime and Chevrolet Bolt. Now that would make my day! (And help me decide)!