2017 Chevrolet Volt
It takes up to 9 hours to recharge the Volt’s battery on regular 120-volt household current, or about 4 hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charging station. The conventional hybrid Prius doesn't plug in at all. A plug-in Prius, called Prius Prime, will be available later in 2016.
Both cars share a basic profile: They’re high-tailed five-door liftbacks. Both have a roofline that stays high and then drops off abruptly, though the new Volt has dispensed with the two-piece rear window that the Prius retains. The Prius is bigger inside and can seat five, while the Volt’s fifth “seating position” is only for small, slender, and limber riders—and even then only for short distances—and it has less load space as well.
While the Volt has gotten more conventional looking, the latest Prius is even odder-looking than its predecessors, with a rear end whose taillights are shaped something like question marks, or perhaps squiggles. Both cars have far nicer interiors and information display graphics than their predecessors. The Chevy has slightly more conventional controls than the Prius, which still features a Space Age Multi-Information Display panel toward the base of the windshield. Both have also upgraded the materials and plastics of their interiors, with the Volt coming in as more upscale but both now tolerable.
Both cars nearly ace safety tests, but the Prius includes standard advanced safety systems that most automakers still charge for.
If you want the car with the highest-rated fuel economy on the market, and you're not ready to plug in your car just yet, the Prius hybrid is clearly your choice. This year’s model is quieter, smoother, far nicer inside, and—at last—drives and handles like a regular car, to the point where it’s easy to forget you’re in a Prius at all. And that was hard to say about earlier generations.
But, if you’re the kind of early adopter who bought a Prius in the early years, you may be ready for your next big leap. The new Volt retains all the good points of the previous version, while fixing almost every one of its problems. If a Tesla is out of reach and you don’t want to cope with the limitations of less than 100 miles of electric range, the Volt should be at the top of your list.