Volt Versus All: How Does Chevy's Plug-in Hold Up Against the Plug-In Competition?

2011ChevroletVolt

Cars.com owned one of the earliest Chevrolet Volts in the country for more than a year and experienced the highs and lows of ownership. I've had my own Bow-Tie brand plug-in for nearly two years, and I've routinely been one of our editors tapped to test newcomers to the electrified car segment from an electric Fiat to new plug-ins from BMW, Ford and Toyota.

2014 Chevrolet Volt Review

Yet, the Volt remains a lightning rod in many ways ... pun slightly intended. Rumors suggest we're at least six months away from seeing a second-generation Chevrolet Volt and probably at least a year away from driving one. The question then becomes, is the Volt the best plug-in hybrid out there, or is one of the newcomers a better choice?

By Aaron Bragman | July 2, 2014 | Comments (4)

Toyota Reduces 2014 Prius Plug-In Price

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When it arrives in dealerships in November, 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-ins will have less of a charge — not in their electric motors, of course, but in their starting prices. The Plug-in Hybrid will start at $30,800 and the Plug-in Advanced trim at $35,715, a $2,010 and $4,620 reduction, respectively. Both prices include an $810 destination charge.

Toyota said the hybrid hatchback's price cut will not mean less content for buyers. To the contrary, the 2014 version adds standard features including heated cloth front seats, remote climate-control activation, 10-spoke alloy wheels and an additional year of roadside assistance through ToyotaCare for a total of three years. Toyota also says the 2014 model will be able to drive farther in EV mode, but didn't elaborate; the 2013 version can travel around 15 miles in EV-only mode.

By Matt Schmitz | October 10, 2013 | Comments (4)

Toyota World Hybrid Tour Shows What We're Missing

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Toyota is flexing its hybrid chops with a special traveling road show of the company's hybrid cars. The automaker recently brought the automotive media to a private test track in southeast Michigan to try out not only the cars it sells in the U.S., such as the venerable Prius and Camry Hybrid, but also a selection of international offerings that aren't available here. We were treated to a closed loop handling course followed by a highway-speed 3-mile oval and all day to drive the hybrid vehicles as many times as we liked.

Perhaps the biggest take-away from this event is how differently Toyota tunes its vehicles depending on the market in which they're sold.

By Aaron Bragman | September 4, 2013 | Comments (3)

Plug-in Cars: Where Can You Buy Them?

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Thursday’s pricing announcement for the Chevrolet Spark EV likely piqued some interest on the West Coast, but chances are few others gave it much attention. GM will sell the all-electric hatchback only in California and Oregon; the automaker has announced no plans to sell it elsewhere, spokesman Kevin Kelly told us.

Where can EV fans find their cars? We tallied up the states.

No surprise: Californians get the biggest slice of the EV pie. Thank the state's zero-emissions vehicle mandate, which requires automakers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emissions vehicles, explained Ed Kim, AutoPacific's vice president of industry analysis. Nearby Washington state has adopted California's emissions requirements but not the ZEV quota, and states such as Oregon and a number along the East Coast have adopted both.

The emissions requirement should eventually align with the federal government's 2025 corporate average fuel economy requirements. But it still means "a plug-in car sold in Oregon counts towards California’s required ZEV volume for the automaker that makes that vehicle," Kim wrote in an email. "It’s not a natural consumer market for such vehicles, but rather a market legislated into existence."

By Kelsey Mays | May 24, 2013 | Comments (1)

Toyota to Build 20 New Hybrids Globally by End of 2015

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In less than three years, Toyota will have 20 new or redesigned hybrids worldwide — plus a hydrogen fuel-cell car. That's what Bob Carter, who heads automotive operations at Toyota's U.S. arm, told reporters this morning. Carter spoke at the National Automobile Dealers Association/J.D. Power and Associates' 2013 Automotive Forum on the eve of this week's 2013 New York International Auto Show.

More 2013 New York Auto Show Coverage

Despite the proliferation — if not the sales — of electric cars, Toyota believes "hybrids will remain a core technology" because they can be adapted to other environmental areas, Carter said. Given the number of cars from Toyota and its Lexus and Scion divisions, 20 hybrids seems like a more attainable goal than the automaker's gas-electric gauntlet thrown in 2006, which declared that every forthcoming redesign would include a hybrid version. Toyota backed off that pledge two years later.

By Kelsey Mays | March 26, 2013 | Comments (0)

Most-Read Car Reviews of the Week

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The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek must've been awfully good this year, as the crossover will spend the Christmas holiday atop Cars.com's most-read reviews list for its sixth straight week. Newcomers to the list this week include the 2013 Toyota RAV4, the 2013 Toyota Avalon and the 2013 Cadillac XTS.

Check out what else was popular this week:

By Matt Schmitz | December 23, 2012 | Comments (1)

Most-Read Car Reviews of the Week

2013SubaruXVCrosstrek

Still unwilling to share the spotlight after five consecutive weeks, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek yet again nabs the No. 1 spot among Cars.com's most-read reviews this week. Another familiar face, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, enjoys its second straight week in the runner-up position. Meanwhile, it's worth noting that Ford occupies nearly half the list with the 2013 Escape, Focus ST, Fusion and Explorer.

Check out what else was popular this week:

By Matt Schmitz | December 15, 2012 | Comments (0)

Cars.com Reviews the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In

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Leery about putting all your chips down on either the efficiency of a pure-electric or the acceleration of an extended-range car? Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder explains how the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In lets you hedge your hybrid bets. But while the plug-in version boasts a three-hour recharge time on household power and trumps the standard Prius on fuel savings, it costs $8,000 more — making the odds on whether it's worth it a wager you'll have to make for yourself.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Review
By Matt Schmitz | November 8, 2012 | Comments (4)

2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In Video

Toyota's all-new Prius Plug-in is the latest version of the popular hybrid family to hit the streets. Unlike the regular Prius, you plug this one in, so the higher-capacity battery can provide up to 15 miles of pure-electric driving. Yet with a rougher ride and minimal EV range, Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder questions whether the nearly $8,000 price premium over a standard Prius is worth it. The masses of loyal Prius buyers seem to think so, however.

Related
Prius Plug-In Quietly Ranks No. 2

2012 Toyota Prius V, 2012 Prius Plug-in Priced at $26,400 and $32,000
Toyota's Prius Still MPG Champ

By Robby DeGraff | October 31, 2012 | Comments (0)

Prius Plug-In Quietly Ranks No. 2

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The much-ballyhooed sales figures for the Chevrolet Volt hide another green-car success: the Toyota Prius Plug-In. Toyota's rechargeable hybrid hummed along with 1,652 sales in September, and it's only available in 15 coastal states. You won’t be able to buy it in the rest of the U.S. until next year.

That hasn't stopped the Prius Plug-In with 7,734 sales so far this year from earning a comfortable second place between the Volt and the Nissan Leaf. The Prius Plug-In has been on sale since last fall and spent much of the following spring among the fastest-selling cars in America. In some months, it even outpaced the first-place Volt, which spent much of this year facing more politicization than Joe the Plumber.

GM fought back, discounting Volt leases to as little as $269 a month for three years with roughly $2,800 down — leading some experts to argue it's better to lease a Volt than buy it. Is it bad business for GM? Perhaps, as the 2013 Volt now leases for $299 a month. Toyota undercuts that today with leases as low as $269 in some areas on the 2012 Prius Plug-In if you pony up as much as $3,599 at signing. Pay up to $459 a month and you can walk away with a Prius Plug-In in some areas with no money down.

By Kelsey Mays | October 9, 2012 | Comments (3)

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