I traded in my2004 Prius for a 2012 Chevy Volt. Here are some comparisons and differences between between them. I am updating the article as I go along.
At the beginning of each item I pick the “winner” or “loser” and the indicate the amount of the win or lose by the number of + or – I assign.
- Volt+++ The Volt is electric. This is of course the main reason why I bought a Volt. Silent at all speeds and if I am careful I can mostly avoid gas stations. The Prius has electric motor but it is a gas powered car even if it does get twice the MPG of other gas cars.
- Prius+ The Prius is a little larger for the back seat and cargo area. The Prius hatch also loads out flat at bumper level and the Volt has a wall you have to lift stuff over which can be a pain for larger items like bikes. The Prius has belts and enough room on the rear bench seat for 3 people if a bit cramped. The Volt has bucket seats and a center console.
- Volt+ The Volt is Sportier The seats are stiff and molded, the suspension flat and the steering responsive. It feels more powerful than the Prius at all speeds. It can be fun to drive in addition to leveling up when you want to play the hypermile game.
- Volt– No place on the Volt for a bike rack hitch. On the Prius I bought a 2″ hitch bar that bolted on to the hold-down hook points and I could attach a bike rack (I have a 3 bike Allen). Early reports are there are no hitches available and the placement of the backup camera and light in the center make it more complicated. I may end up selling the rear rack and get a Thule roof rack. This adds more wind resistance and is less convenient.
- Volt- Visibility. When I first drove the Prius I didn’t like the view in the back and I thought I would have trouble seeing with the hatch in the way. I got used to it. In the Volt it seems even worse. Maybe it is something to get used to again. The Volt has the backup camera which I really love! One really stupid thing seems to be the rear view mirror where this some hump in front of it that obscures the view on top. I don’t know what this is for besides for seat belt indicators and even then it doesn’t have to extend out so far.
- Volt++ Rear View Camera and Sonar. My Volt has the rear view camera as well as front and rear sonar beeps. Yes, the camera is available on newer Prii but it wasn’t on mine. In fact when driving friends’ Prii I wanted one myself even more.
- Volt+ Feeping Creatures. I mean creeping features: cup holders, 12v jacks, etc. The Prius had 2 12v jacks in front. One by the passenger legs and one in the hump box. The Volt has one in the box, one on the dash box and one in the back hump for passengers to use. Maybe more that I haven’t found yet. There is also a USB in the hump box. They both have the same number of cup holders. In the Prius the rear one was fold out and vulnerable to being pulled off when kicked (kids!) while the Volt has it built into the hump.
- Volt- Premium Gasoline. The Prius preferred lower octane gas while the Volt takes Premium. They say it is because the gas in the Volt may stay unused in the tank and engine for a longer time and Premium won’t break down or gum up as easy. The bright side is the Volt shouldn’t need to fill up very often.
- Volt++ Infotainment. This is mostly 7 years of improvements in car electronics. My Prius had the premium JBL system with 6 CD changer and cassette tape (!!). No AUX jack or bluetooth A2DP. I added an iPod dock connector which I used about every day. The Volt has the premium Bose system with 1 CD/DVD, XM, Aux in and USB (NO bluetooth A2DP). The lack of Bluetooth concerns me but the USB to my Android (Photon) phone does an excellent job of showing and playing files. The AUX can do the job if needed without the hassle of bluetooth audio so maybe it is OK. XM radio is underwhelming so far and the nifty traffic info on the NAV screen doesn’t include Rt 3 which I use for my commute.
- Volt+ Tire Pressure readout How awesome is it to see your tire pressure right on the display? Even more awesome is getting email telling me one tire has low pressure!
- Volt+ OnStar. How do you change my opinion that OnStar is an expensive luxury feature and intrusive invasion of privacy to wondering how I ever lived without it? Simple: give it away for free (for 3 years). The OnStar app for Android lets me see the battery and fuel levels, control charging and do remote control like remote start and door control from anywhere. It also shows me tire pressure and sends diagnostic reports.