2011 Chevy Volt > Toyota Prius
April 06, 2011
As I alluded to yesterday, I drove a rental Toyota Prius this past weekend while in Indianapolis for a friend's wedding. I was originally given a Mitsubishi Galant. "Oh joy," I thought having never actually driven one before. "I get to see if it really is the worst midsize now that the 200 has replaced the Sebring!" Sadly or happily, the Galant had 40,000 miles, at least nine major exterior scratches and a dent in the driver's door that made the left-rear difficult to open. I tossed the key on the Hertz desk and said, "please try again." The cheerful Hoosier behind the desk gave me a choice and I went with the Prius -- cheap on gas I figured.
And cheap on gas it certainly was. But it was also surprisingly noisy, with lots of road noise and a gas engine that sounds like lawn mower. The ride was also harsh, though the tires were also probably overinflated in true rental car tradition (I didn't check as I did a month earlier on Hawai'i). The driving position is still poorly suited to tall people despite the telescoping wheel and height-adjustable seat, the slanted HVAC and stereo displays easily wash out in the sun, the interior materials are quite cheap and I don't care for their rough graining. In other words, I didn't like it.
Contrast that to the Volt. It isn't noisy, even when the engine kicks in. The ride feels more substantial (regardless of tires), handling is better, the seating position is far better and the interior materials are vastly superior. There's also more of an electric-torque kick when accelerating in "gas" mode than you get with the Prius. Sure, the Volt has only two very cramped rear seats and less cargo capacity. Oh, and it costs way more. Regardless, I'd happily drive the Volt ... not so much the Prius.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 3,851 miles