PHOTO CAPTION: Chevrolet Volt beats out Toyota Prius PHV in Motor Trend review.

Motor Trend Pits Chevy Volt Against Toyota Prius PHV

In head-to-head competition of plug-in hybrids, Motor Trend ranks Chevrolet Volt in first place ahead of Toyota's Prius PHV

Published: 28-Nov-2012

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about comparing the Chevrolet Volt with the new Toyota Prius Plug-In is what it says about us. Before explaining what I mean by that, let me back up a bit. Well, actually, a lot.

In the broadest terms, the Volt and the Prius are two peas in a pod. You plug them in before driving, and then travel a meaningful distance as an electric car before their batteries are spent. After that, their gas engines seamlessly start, and they carry on like familiar hybrids.

To do this, they need bigger batteries than hybrids. And right now, before we go another inch, let's be sure we're all thumbs-up with the idea that the language for battery size is "kW-hrs." Yes, it looks alien. But it's just another unit of energy, like the BTU or calorie, with "kilo" standing for 1000 "Watts" -- a unit of power honoring (rather oddly) the steam engine innovator, James Watt-- and "hour" meaning the particular size of the time bucket this stream of power is filling: 33.7 of these kW-hr things equals the energy in 1 gallon of good old gasoline. OK. So the standard, non-pluggable Prius carries a 1.6 kW-hr, nickel-metal-hydride battery. The Volt's? It's 10 times larger, a liquid-cooled, 16.0-kW-hr lithium-ion (chemistry by Argonne National Lab and fabrication by LG Chem) carrying the usable equivalent of about 0.4 gallon of gas. That's not much. But with the Volt's 94-mpg-eEPA-rating in EV mode, it winds up traveling a startling 39 miles before the engine starts. Our recent annum of driving our long-term Volt confirmed this, as it often exceeded 40 miles.


Chevy Volt used by NYPD Traffic Enforcement Division

The deputized Chevys are used by civilian traffic enforcement agents who patrol for illegally parked cars and assist with directing traffic.


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