2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid: Is It An Electric Car, Or Not?

Follow John

The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid is the second best-selling plug-in electric car in the U.S. today. It outsells the Nissan Leaf and is bested only by the Chevrolet Volt.

But if you view it as an electric car, it’s an odd duck indeed.

The car’s plug-in hybrid powertrain adds a 4.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to what is essentially a standard Toyota Prius hybrid. That pack can be recharged by plugging it into a wall outlet.

The EPA says the Prius Plug-In has an electric range of 11 miles, though the small print notes that the car can only do 6 continuous miles electrically on the agency’s city test cycle.

That makes it the lowest-range “electric car” sold in the States, and the lowest-range plug-in hybrid as well.

Concentrating to keep it electric

Like the regular Prius, you have to drive gently and with some care to keep the car in electric mode. Even if you do, that doesn’t mean the engine won’t go on.

Having tested a Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car the previous weekend, we found it disconcerting to unplug the Prius, get in, power the car up—and have the engine fire itself up within seconds. The Volt engine doesn't switch on until the pack is depleted.

The 60-kilowatt (83-horsepower) electric traction motor in the Prius is smaller than the Volt's 111-kW (149-hp) motor, by design. So the 98-hp 1.8-liter engine in the Prius still does the bulk of the propulsion work under heavy loads and at speeds over about 50 mph. Together, the engine and motor put out a maximum of 134 hp.

Moreover, the engine has to stay on enough to keep the catalytic converter heated up to the right temperature to reduce emissions. So even if you’re running all-electrically, you may stop at a traffic light and notice the engine thrumming away up there under the hood—even though the energy diagram doesn’t show it.

That’s all pretty discomfiting if you are trying to use the plug-in Prius like an electric car.

Electric vs. gasoline miles

The metric that Toyota would prefer you to use is the percent of time the car propels itself on electricity.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model

Enlarge Photo

At the launch event outside San Diego in February, the test route covered a variety of city and suburban traffic conditions. We were able to spend a majority of each 5-mile route in all-electric mode, covering more than half of each electrically.

But that wasn’t the case over the course of our long weekend test drive. It covered a total of 326 miles, with about two-thirds freeway driving and one-third use around town.

Over that distance, the car managed to travel 11 percent (37 miles) in electric mode and 89 percent (289 miles) on gasoline.

Effective 54 mpg

The plug-in Prius was fairly efficient running on battery power—that 37 miles consumed 10 kWh—and the car told us we used only 6.0 gallons to cover the 289 miles on gasoline, or 48 mpg.

Once the pack is depleted, the Prius Plug-In is rated by the EPA at the same 50 mpg combined as the standard Prius hybrid. Our effective overall gas mileage for our total mileage across both modes was a modestly higher 54 mpg.

But to cover even that relatively low electric distance, we had to plug in the car half a dozen times over three days. The 4.4-kWh battery pack is by far the smallest of any plug-in, though Toyota believes it has optimized the car for overall efficiency.

Follow Us

Comments (145)
  1. The small battery pack is a real problem for the plug-in Prius.

    The GCR driving cycle seems ill fitting to the PiP or to the Volt, for that matter.

    Some earlier data on Fuelly suggested that PiP owners were getting 30% of their miles electrically. Not great, but better than I expected.

    Volt owners were getting 60%-70% of their miles from electricity. Much better, but worse than I was expecting.

    So this all comes down to how the vehicles are used with neither vehicle getting better than 90% for average drivers.

    I think this shows why plug-in hybrids are viewed with a suspicious eye by devotes of the BEV. How can you be sure that people are actually using a plug-in hybrid as intended?

  2. i suspect Volt Owners will get higher percentages as chargers become more available. I think as we see Level 2 chargers in Malls, Office buildings, transit stations, and as people become more disciplined about this, we will see the 90% level. Also, we just closed out the summer and lots of people were taking long trips. Now that winter is here we may see a lot more shorter trips.

  3. Well, sometimes those stats are "masked" by weekday vs. weekend miles.

    For example, my Volt is 100% Electric during my daily commute to work but burn gas on weekends or when my Wife "borrows" it during her 200 miles drive... So, it end up with a 75-80% Electric miles.

    If I stop letting my wife use it, the electric miles percentage will go up to 95% easily... Even at 75% electric, my Volt is saving me about $1500 - $2000 per year in gas money vs. a 40 mpg car (I get to charge at work).

  4. And there in lies the beauty of the plug-in hybrid. EV most of the time and gasoline when you need it. All in one vehicle.

  5. Hey John, you are starting to sound like Volt commercial. :)

    "Electric when you want it, gas when you need it".

  6. Per EPA, Volt owners will run 64% of the miles in EV and 36% in HV (gas). GM,s Volt site has a realtime counter and it shows 61% EV and 39% gas.

    Your EV ratio is much higher than the average so there are other non-vocal Volt owners that have very low EV ratio.

  7. EPA does does say what will happen, they estimate averages based on statistical data.

    Average is a non-robust statistic. The GM volt site is looking at total miles, and a few people that have already racked up 40-50K miles already are adding lots of ICE miles. The median is more robust and can be much higher. For example on voltstats which has about 10% of volt owners, the "average" %EV is 70, but the median is 80%, meaning that more than half the owners are using more than 80% ev and anyone using less is a "below average" driver.

  8. EPA's estimate is an estimate on "average" car buyer, NOT average Volt buyers... Big difference!

  9. I expect Dennis Chin to understand the EPA estimate, but I guess he is pretty clueless about how the EPA estimate came about.

    It is based on the assumed hwy/city driving and distance. Almost useful as his PIP's claimed 12 miles EV range...

  10. Hey, the 61% EV and 39% HV ratio on GM's Volt site is the realworld average of all Volts.

    John B was pretty close with the range he gave. Your EV% is much higher than average. That's all I was pointing out.

  11. I don't really care if the number is 60% or 90% for EV miles on the Volt, this is a win for reducing the consumption of oil.

    The real concern should be with the PiP and whether 10% or 30% EV miles is really worth the effort.

    Also, looking forward to the C-Max Energi, what do we think the percent EV miles will be? Will it be less than the Volt, or about the same? Does this come down to consumer behavior?

  12. There are more comments in this thread
  13. I work about 6 miles away from home and my Plug-in Prius charges to 12.6 miles. It's the perfect pattern for my commute. Charging once a day at work, and not having a lead foot, my engine rarely comes on during my commute.

  14. What happens when the "heat" is on? Does your engine come on?

  15. It must. I don't think it has any electric heating.

  16. Gas is best for heat. The excess power from the engine charges the PHV pack increasing EV range. There is a small electric heating element like a regular Prius to maintain temp.

    Volt turns on the gas engine for heat under extreme cold. That's the advantage of a hybrid anyway.

  17. Gas engine is NOT efficient at "heat". It just happens that Gas Engine has a lot of "waste" heat..

    Volt only turns on the engine when the battery temperature reaches extreme low state, not the cabin... Big difference.

  18. You have two fuels in a plugin hybrid. A gallon of gas contains 33.7 kWh of energy. Prius PHV battery has 3.2 kWh (usable). Volt battery has 10.6 kWh (usable).

    Heating the cabin takes a lot of energy. Which fuel do you think is best suitable to heat the cabin?

  19. That is great. Sounds like a good match to your commute.

    My commute is 10 miles each way. Perhaps if I could find a way to plug-in at work, the PiP would be a good match.

  20. I think C-Max Energi is a better choice in your situation.

    I still wonder how the "winter condition" is going to impact the C-Max Energi range in your part of the "world"...

  21. Is your commute during congested slow rush hour? Do you need a mid size interior with a flat cargo floor? Prius PHV is the only plugin that can meet those need.

    C-MAX cargo is not flat and Volt doesn't have midsize interior nor 5 seats.

  22. Maybe JB cares about higher quality interior, better performance AND LOWER PRICE!

  23. I really like the C-Max Energi (got to sit in one), though it is a bummer that you lose so much cargo space compared to the C-Max hybrid.

    As for the interior, no doubt the C-Max is nicer than the Prius. Mind you, I love my Prius, but that isn't to say that it doesn't have some short comings.

    As for the back of the Volt, I have never much cared for the layout. I think the cargo access in the Prius is excellent.

  24. Even with the cargo floor raised in C-MAX Energi, the cargo space is still more than the Volt. Plus, you have 5 seats and midsize interior.

    In case you are not aware, Toyota is doing $3,500 to $5,000 cash bonus for Prius PHV base and Advanced, in my area. That makes it more affordable than C-MAX Energi.

  25. There are more comments in this thread
  26. I have been saying this all along. PIP is almost a "green scam". Regular Prius is way better "value" than the PIP. It is really a "poor" attempt by Toyota to come into the Plugin market.

    Just about every CA Prius Plugin owners that I know have the GREEN Carpool stickers.

    Also, I have seen plenty of Prius Plugin "hogging" the public charging stations for more than 4 hours. NO PIP would that amount of time for charging!!!!

    Maybe this is the Toyota's idea of "ruining" public charging spaces for all BEVs.

    I think at least the C-Max Energi and Volt gives its owner a realistic way of using its EV mode.

    If you can stay in your PIP's EV mode, then you are probably also close enough to walk or bike to work....

  27. At $32,000, the plug-in Prius is really a questionable value. It is also not optimized to the Federal tax rebate either.

    But I have never viewed this PiP as a "scam" but as a "transitional" technology. I thought perhaps gen 1 of the PiP would be 11 e-miles and gen 2 might be 20 e-miles.

    Honestly, I am less worried about the "blended" versus "ev" operating mode of the plug-in hybrids. As long as a significant percentage of the energy comes from electricity, I am fine with that.

    The problem with the PiP isn't that the drive train is "blended" , it is that it runs out of juice too soon to blend with the gasoline.

  28. Okay, "Scam" is a strong word. But I feel with Toyota's money, engineering capability and market share, it could have done a much better job than what it did with Prius Plugin.

    Prius Plugin was engineered from ground up to be an ICE based car first and EV mode was just a "bonus".

    Volt was engineered from ground up to be an EV which engine as an "extender".

    That is why I felt that Toyota's 1st attempt was a poor one. But with its recent attitude toward EVs by Toyota, I am NOT surprised. I am just glad that there are other auto makers out there that bring something better to the market.

    The downside is that more and more PIP are "hogging" the almost limited public charging facilities...

  29. Argh... where to start? So much hate toward Prius.

    Prius PHV uses electricity where it makes sense -- suburb/city. It uses the high energy density fuel (gas) for high piwer demand. It doesn't pretend to be an EV. It is an honest plugin hybrid and uses the strength of both fuels.

    Going by your logic, Volts are "hogging" up charging stations of BEVs. Volt even sound the alarm if an EV owner tries to remove the plug even if it is full.

    Remember that a mid size typically cost $3k more than a compact. A compact is lighter and more fuel efficient. This isn't the case with Volt. Think about which is the scam, especially with the tax credit amount.

  30. Not Prius, Prius Plugin. Big difference!

    B/c GCR consider Volt as an EV. GM claim it as an EREV. I consider it as EV+. Volt can operate without a drop of gas. Your Prius PHV can't!

    Volt takes 4 hours to fully charge from empty. It will operate without any gas. So, Volt owners might actually need a charge. Pip on the other hand can NOT and wILL NOT operate in EV mode alone without gas.

    Also, Toyota does NOT have thermal cooling like the Volt. Volt will use power to maintain its battery temperature in extreme heat and cold. It actually has compressor working even when the battery is full. Pip just has a "fan"...

    Really? it is your argument? Volt has far larger battery. That is the basis of tax credits.

  31. Sure, you can operate Prius PHV without a drop of gas also. The conditions and thresholds are different than Volt. Volt has conditions and thresholds before it uses gasoline as well.

    I was talking about the charger that bundled with the plugins. L2 chargers cost extra and even with that, 4 hours for Volt is longer than Prius PHV 3 hours on regular 110V outlet.

    EREV is a marketing term. It is not an official engineering term, BTW. In term of engineering, both Prius PHV and Volt are plugin hybrids.

    Prius and Prius PHV has active thermal cooling. It regulates the battery temp with A/C and heater. The air is drawn (has 2 fans) directly from the cabin so if the driver is comfortable, so is the battery.

  32. Volt also has active thermal cooling as well. Instead of using air to cool, it uses liquid. Liquid cooling is heavier and more expensive. It is also more dangerous and we have seen the Volt battery fire due to the coolant leaking inside the battery shorting it out. You also need to change the coolant. Volt has a total of 3 coolants to change.

  33. There are more comments in this thread
  34. I agree with Xiaolong. Toyota's poor effort with the PIP and IQ has been a real disappointment. I like the Rav EV, but will not have the option of purchase, since I live in Washington state.

    My family are moving away from Toyota ... my wife has traded her Prius for a Volt, and I will soon trade my Camry Hybrid for either the Focus EV or 2013 Leaf.

    I used to think Toyota a bold, forward-thinking company ... but they actually seem rather timid. No surprise, I guess as they've invested heavily in nickel medal hydride technology and don't want to advance too quickly.

  35. @Richard: Camry hybrid to Leaf of Focus EV would reduce emission. That's a great move if you don't need the range.

    I hope your commute with Volt does not increase your carbon footprint (GHG emission). Just a warning because, per EPA, Volt would emit 260 g/mi using average grid electricity. A regular Prius is 222 g/mi. It widely depends on the source of your electricity.

  36. Thanks Dennis. Our electricity is hydro, at $.08 kWh, and my wife has been driving about 95% electric power only.

    My driving needs are small (5-10 miles per day on average), so a full EV would fit me perfectly. We have my wife's Volt for any extended trips.

  37. Great! We need more of you to even out the polar opposites (coal states). Per GM data, EV ratio is still 61% the last time I checked.

  38. If it is such a POOR attempt then why as a previous FIND NO DIFFERANCE in its capability.....those who want PERFORMANCE out of an ELECTRIC should not drive a Prius of ANY KIND they will be disappointed YES in some of its downfalls....BUT YOU NEED to buy a Hybrid/Electric for its gas savings and what IS IS built for...I have always hated the Prius UNTIL THE NEXT GEN came to be...its looks became appealing enough for its sales to go out the roof...my XPERIENCE has been nothing but moving forward with the technologies offer by Toyota...I have never gone less than 45 days plus...refilling my 10.6 gallon tank..the car is MOSTLY IN Electric since it chooses that mode b4 the Hybrid mode...I never had a problem...quite good in my opinion....

  39. John, I think you are right. Toyota only goes for sure things. This looks more like some type of marketing ploy to sell people into the hybrid.

  40. OK let me stop all the BS I heard enough. I have a Prius plugin and you get a 13.1 mile charge in-stand of 6 miles. you get the 6 miles in the hybrid mode because you can drive the Prius in Ev mode even when you deplete the Ev battery you see the Prius plugin battery pack is setup different then the regular Prius you have your Ev rang and you Hybrid which is areal Hybrid system one of the best!! it's all about how you drive.The car will give you the best gas mileage around like 87 to 130 miles I know I have done this you see the only reason Chevy built the volt is because of the Prius everyone
    thought that people wouldn't buy a hybrid but Toyota stuck
    with it and now everyone has jump on the bandwagon you guys
    are just haters Japanese cars

  41. There is NOTHING wrong with Toyota's effort on Prius. But its Prius Plugin effort is pretty "poor" at that. Your 13.1 miles EV range has as much significance as Volt's 50 miles EV range (both are under ideal situation).

    Also, C-Max might have less MPG than Prius, but it sure beats the "pants" of Prius in performance...

    Please use more "," and "." next time you write. It is hard to read some of your comments.

  42. Prius PHV covers 29% of the miles on electricity with 4.4 kWh battery. Volt covers 64% with 16 kWh battery. Which plugin makes the best use of battery?

    Prius PHV covers 71% with 50 MPG gas engine. Volt covers 36% with 37 MPG gas engine. Which plugin makes the best of gas?

    It takes 10 hours to fully charge Volt with a bundled charger. It takes Prius PHV 3 hours. Gas refuels in minutes. Which plugin takes longer to refuel?

    I mentioned about interior volume and the number of seats. These are most of the criteria to take account, not just electric mile. We know EV mile is very important to you because you are fixated on it.

  43. The answer to your questions are that the Volt makes better use of a battery and the prius beter use of gas. Since a the battery can be filled with renewable energy "better use" is to maximize what fraction of miles can be on battery.

    The Prius PHV takes longer to refuel because I have to stand at the pump while it refuel much more often. I don't car how long the Volt sits in my garage -- I dont even have L2. It takes me < 10seconds to plug in in my garage (plug is hanging ready to use). If I want to get more EV milage in the PHV I have to plug it in multiple times a day, wasting more of my time. (plugging at work takes me > 1min).

    Your fixation on how long charging takes makes it clear you have no idea what a PHEV is about.

  44. @ Dennis Chin,

    I guess you like to "cherry picking" your answers.

    First of all, LEARN SOME BASIC FACT BEFORE YOU POST WRONG STUFF AGAIN. Volt uses 10.5KWh out of its 16KWh.

    Volt uses MUCH longer EV range b/c EV power train are MORE EFFICIENT than any gas engine. You EVEN proved the FACT that even in the PIP, EV mode was more than 2x more efficient. So, staying in EV mode is the way to double efficiency.

    Sure, I NEVER said that Volt is better at gas. But that is the point. Volt is designed to be EV first and hybrid second. PIP is designed to be hybrid first and EV, well NOT really... That is my COMPLAIN! If you haven't got that, you just need to go back and read all my post.

    As far as charging time goes, that is stupid.

  45. Charging time is POINTLESS to argue since both Volt and PIP comes with same 3.3KW charger. Who care about refuel if the vehicle is designed for commute. LIke I said, if you care more about long range driving, then regular Prius is better value than a PIP. Or C-Max.

    Sure, PIP has more space and seat. But Volt has better SAFETY RATING, BETTER braking, BETTER 0-60mph, BETTER braking, BETTER handling, quieter, better looking, more high tech features, more powerful vehicle.

    EV miles are important to me. So are safety, performance and power. Apparently, you value space, seating and MPG in gas mode more than I do. That is why I said regular Prius are better value since those are the "PIP advantage". But why pay more for it?

  46. There are more comments in this thread
  47. "Toyota only goes for sure things"?

    Really? like hybrids ten years about?

    I think hybrids were anything but a sure thing ten years ago and Toyota made this technology viable.

    It is not Toyota's fault that EVs are a difficult economic proposition.

  48. EVs are possible now with battery life (80% original capacity) of about 5 (Leaf) to 7 (Tesla). That's probably not good enough for Toyota since they usually design cars to last over 10 years.

  49. Yet GM can offer a 10 yr 150k miles warranty on the Volt battery.

  50. Yes, that's required for hybrids or plugin hybrids to be certifed with AT-PZEV emission rating. Prius had 10 years / 150k miles warranty in CARB states since 2003. The reason for that is, the battery is considered part of the emission system. For EVs, that's not the case since they have no tailpipe so they don't have to have 10 years / 150k miles warranty.

    Regarding the tailpipe emission, 2011 Volts are not e-ATPZEV emission rated. 2012+ improved and achieved e-ATPZEV but you can still tell the difference with the cleanest plugin (see below).


  51. Well, I have hit a nerve here, with Prius Plugin owners.

    But my points are clear. Prius are good cars and PIP are NOT.

    After I argued with Dennis, it is clear that he has pointed out all the advantage of PIP over a Volt, gas mode MPG, space and 5 seating. Well, all 3 of those factors are COMMON with a typical Prius AT MUCH LOWER PRICE point. So, the "Plugin" doesn't really bring any additional advantage over the Volt compared with a regular Prius.

    That is why I keep saying that PIP is a POOR effort by Toyota while Prius is a "benchmark" that everyone use to measure against.

    So, if you want to go EV or Plugin, then PIP Is NOT your best choice. (why choose worse performance, lower safety and higher price over a regular Prius? 6 e-mi?)

  52. Come on.. the Pip is a fine hybrid. Its better than the regular prius in that the bigger battery allows more efficent very short trips, better regen and overall its a small boost. Fuelly average for PiPs (small sample) is about 80MPG overall, which is a meaningful improvement over a regular prius.

    The 6e-mile is disingenuous, as the PiP gets 11 miles of CD range on EPA testing... yes it started the ICE after 6, for hard acceleration. But once it started it its warm so that when its finally out of CD (5 miles more), the engine is warm and it will get better milage with lower emissions.

    Its a basic PHEV, not an EREV, so one should not expect it to be an EV, its a hybrid with a slightly bigger battery. Good hybrid, not EV.

  53. Can 5 people fit into a Volt? I am looking at plug in cars because of the gas prices but need rear seat room. Thanks for the time.

  54. @Paulo, no, four is all you're going to get... Decent seat room (decent, not great) for two in the back, but no more than four riding due to the bucket seats. I love my Volt, but that's why I hope GM gets the Voltec system into a wagon/small crossover soon.

  55. Paul, this news from last week should be helpful for you.


  56. That guy did it b/c his Wife bought a Leaf. So, now his "ONLY LONG" range car needs 5 people sitting.

    Notice that he got a C-Max Energi instead of the crappy Prius Plugin.

  57. So for the small increase in battery size, you are giving up 1 star in safety rating, performance in acceleration, braking and handling. And you have to pay more?

    Why NOT just go with C-Max Energi? It seems that PIP is looking worse and worse with every plugin hybrid coming out...

    If Toyota had put in a larger electric motor and put in a 10KWh battery, I would have been on board.

    That is why I said PIP is a poor effort by Toyota.

  58. @Mr. LI: Those advantages I pointed out are possible because of the smaller battery pack. I believe Toyota balanced out all those criterias without going one dimensional toward EV range.

    In another word, those are your trade-off for having bigger battery and more EV miles with your Volt. Volt obviously works for your life style, which is why you chose it.

    However, you continued to bash Prius PHV without acknowledging those trade-benefits. That's why I jumped in and pointed out the benefits.

    To me, Volt is a good car. It has emission level of a 42 MPG hybrid. Is it a good plugin hybrid? No. Is it a step toward the right direction? Yes.

  59. Volt allow you to drive gas free. Prius Plugin can't.

    The best VOLT on the volts stats burned 0.9 gallon so far. The best Prius Plugin has burned more than 1 tank of gas.

    That is the point. Try to get to gas free travel.

  60. Gas free depends on the driving condition so why are you pretending Volt never uses gas?

    A compact 4 seater make-believe EV with a tailpipe that never uses gas and happens to weight 3,780 lbs. Wow!

    There are pluses and minues for both fuels (electricity and gasoline). I don't discriminate against either and appreciate the synergy created when driving with both under various conditions.

    Stop your discrimination against gasoline. Look beyond the tailpipe emission and include the upstream fuel production.

  61. The PIP may be a rather half hearted attempt by Toyota to come up with something that has a plug but it's still an electric car. For the part it's powered by electrons from an outside source that is; for the other part (the largest part in most cases) it's not an EV but a GV, a gasoline powered car.

    It's all about proper definitions about what constitutes an EV. Without proper definitions people, including reporters on this subject clearly get confused by phenomenons like the PIP.

  62. Part electric, part gas, has a plug... isn't this the very definition of a plug-in, gas-electric hybrid?

    Would you call yourself vegetarian if "only 1/3" of what you ate was meat?

    The PiP definitely isn't an EV. Nor is the Volt, for that matter, but so what? This doesn't diminish in any way the potential huge gas savings both bring.

    IMHO the only company who can currently claim to have a "range-extended EV" is Tesla.

  63. @dennis...
    EREV is an engineering term, being considered for official inclusion in SAE standard J1715. EREV is-a PHEV is-a HEV

    Having liquid cooling is a good thing.. ask the leaf owners in AZ if they would rather have had liquid cooling. Toyota may/can baby the battery more and won't have the same problem since people won't notice the range loss as much as in a BEV. Air cooling is not near as effective. Your battery can be much much hotter than the driver.. it generates more heat and has greater thermal mass. Since the battery is small, it will not get as hot as a Leaf as it will stop drawing current in 10-15min rather than an hour.

    Miles gained per hour of charging for Volt and PiP are similar - they charge about the same rate.

  64. Ok, let me know when it is official.

    Leaf battery has passive cooling and active heating (with winter package). Nothing is done to cool off the battery (just depends on the surrounding air). Winter package can heat the battery pack so heating is active.

    Leaf needs active cooling either with air or liquid in high temp states. Both Prius PHV and Volt have active cooling. Prius PHV uses cabin air actively with fans. Volt uses coolant actively with water pump.

  65. cabin air cooling only works when you are actively in the car. NOT when you are parked.

    Volt's cooling system comes on even when you are charging and plugged in.

  66. That wastes electricity. The preconditioning system doesn't work well with 110V outlet and many Volt owners don't use it.

  67. We migrated TO a Volt and a Leaf FROM a 2006 Prius (we had also earlier owned a 2004 PRIUS) and a 2007 Camry Hybrid. Clearly we "we're" big fans of the Toyota hybrid technology.

    However compared to the Volt (after 20,000 miles) the Prius hybrid technology is at best ....dated. The PIP is only a (very) small step IMHO in advancing the HSD Toyota technology.

    And the Volt rides, accelerates, and handles SO much better than either our Prius or Camry. With the federal and California state incentives and the GM promotions the Volt seems so much more functional (unless you MUST have 5 seats).

  68. Define the "step".

    In term of emission (tailpipe and beyond -- US average), Volt is a step backward. The only plugin with lower emission than Prius PHV is the tiny i-MiEV. Ford Focus EV ties with it.

    Go check it out yourself. Punch in your zip code and it'll tell you your regional emission and the US average.


    If the emission is increased for more EV miles, is it a step forward? In my opinion, it is NO. I think Toyota carefully packaged the Prius PHV with everything in mind.

  69. That EPA stats are BASED ON A PARTICULAR DRIVING PATTERN SPLIT. That study is DATED b/c it is based on the traditional model of MIX. This is why Volt is superior b/c it allows YOU to improve your MIX based on charging and EV pattern.

    The emission has NOT increased for the Volt. In fact, in today's Volt's stats mix, it is WAY BETTER than what EPA uses in its estimation and PIP is WORSE than what EPA uses in its mix.

    Get on with facts...

  70. What's the source of your "fact"?

    Per eGrid's latest data, there has been about 5% lower emission in the grid electricity.


    So Volt's emission may come down from 260g/mi to 252g/mi. As a baseline, a regular midsize Prius is rated 222g/mi and that doesn't require you to plug it in.

  71. EPA calculation is assuming a "certain" driving pattern split between hwy and city. That will determine a % of gas/EV mix for the Volt. That gas/EV mix % is much lower than what the Voltstats show.

    Also, it is using the "average" electricity generation emission for the number.

    1/3 Volts are sold in CA alone (fact mentioned repeated each monthly sales). West coast account for almost 40% of the sales. So, how is it fair to use the "average" grid to represent the Volt?

  72. Voltstats shows 10% of the miles of what's on the GM's Volt page ticker. That page shows all the Volt miles and the average is about 61% on EV and 39% on gasoline.

    The real-world data is actually worse than what EPA predicted (64%EV) so the actual emission should be higher.

  73. $39K for a Loaded up PIP Prius with a $2,500 tax credit, or $39K Volt with a $7,500 tax credit which already comes well equipped? hmmm now that makes you think about how you'll use it.

  74. I think the decision is better looked at for most consumers as a lease comparison. The Volt made passable sense for me as a purchase, but as a lease, it costs me less than a basic Civic or Corolla would after subtracting fuel savings and adding electricity.

    But whether buying or leasing, I agree, how one plans to use the vehicle is critical. If we didn't have another car with decent storage, the Volt would not have worked for me. For my commute, about 38 miles, 61 km., the Volt works very well.

  75. $39k Base Volt is as well equipped as a $32k Base Prius PHV. The Advanced Prius PHV has a lot more high tech features not available in the Volt.

    Toyota has $3,500 (Base) to $5,000 (Advanced) cash bonus with 0% finance going on. In CA, I think the amount is less (just $2,000 for Base) but there is $1,500 state rebate. Add in $2,500 federal tax credit and you have a $26k plugin that is capable of covering 29% of the miles in electricity. That's about the same price as Prius III (comparably equipped).

    In another word, the plugin feature is basically if you can jump on the deal.

  76. What? You are so biased and you can't see straight.

    Does your PIP has leather seating? No. Does it have touch screen and configurable screen? No. The so called Lane departure are avaiable on the 2013 Volt.

    Personally I would call performance a "requirement" too. YOU FAILED to bring that up!

  77. A Base Prius PHV has no leather seats but instead have heated seats. It also has Touch Tracer and Exhaust Heat Recovery system.

    The Advanced model has LED headlamp, parking assist, radar cruise control, etc... not available even on the top of the line Volt. Toyota is giving $5k cash bonus plus the $2,500 federal tax credit to even out the incentive with the Volt.

    In NY, you can get a Base Prius PHV for the same price as Prius THREE (similarly equipped). That's a really good deal considering a plug and bigger battery is virtually free.

    Proven reliability track record is a requirement to many. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  78. Sorry to burst your bubble BUT you did NOTdo your homework....the PLUG IN Prius INCLUDES the PCS....of which I have been told by my DEALER where I ordered the vehicle back in March 2011....the PRE COLLISION SYSTEM actually brings the PHEV to a 5 STAR Rating...the REASON why the 4 Star was given is being argued with Toyota and the highway safety commission....the ONLY thing that was changed from the Prius liftback and the PLUG IN was the weight of the vehicle...so IF you want to have the 5 stars just buy the Advanced Prius...you get a lot more options and given an additional year of Entune and the addition of Safety Connect....the Prius Liftbacks ALL have the PCS standard this is where the 4 stars come in..it is NOT the overall score..!

  79. Now back to your Prius Plugin Pricing. True car.com shows a discount of $1,500 for PIP. With $4k off from state and Federal.

    A similar equipped Prius III has $2,1000 off according to truecar.com. But it has ZERO state and federal incentives.

    PIP: $32k - $5.5k = $26.5k (not including extra $500 you have to pay in higher sales tax)
    Prius III: $26.3k - $2.1k = $24.2K.

    The difference is $2.3K for 6 miles EPA rated all electric miles + electricity cost. But you end up with a car that is "less safe" and has worse performance than the regular Prius...

    Again, the $2.3k is something a lot of people MORE THAN willing to pay for a green HOV sticker. As proven by the sales of PIP in CA vs. HOV sticker applicant (against Volt ratio).

  80. The Volts here in Florida are selling price of $36K after rebates for the base without the $7500 Tax credit, the models with Leather and other tech items are $38K. Stingray Chevy just in case anyone thinks I'm making up numbers. When I was shopping around, the Prius ended up having no discounts in my area so maybe in his area they are dropping the price of the PIP but it's not even avail here.

  81. Prius PHV is only available in the launch states for now. It'll be available in all states in 2013.

    BTW, I just bought a Base Prius PHV for $25k - after tax credit. It has more features (heated seats and remote A/C) than a regular Prius Three. A plug is definitely a bonus.

    There are people flying to NY, NJ or Boston area to get such deals and driving back home.

  82. What did Prius ever do to you man...u r SOOOOOO much full of anger towards a piece of metal that gets us around...I have owned Prius/Explorers/Lexus/Many chevy/GM products/several of the Hybrid Synergy Drive Toyotas...I trade my vehicles every 2 to 3 years....I have been a Prius hater UNTIL I finally wanted to get the best Hybrid milege wise..the interior of the Prius is made that way for its recycled end of age and the NOT Leather on the Prius 5 and the PHEV is 50 % lighter for keeping your vehicle light as to help the mileage...there were reasons why Toyota has used cheap plastic as some put it...its for the environment after the Prius is destroyed in its life ending..I did my homework before buying the Phev..I get unreal EV ratios..

  83. Exactly. The key is the EV to HV ratio. The number of miles driven under electricity and gas.

    Charge often to raise the EV ratio.

  84. Where did you guys get this 6 mile EV range? Is that flooring it from red lights? I drive 30 miles uphill from Long Beach to Pasadena, CA. I get about 12-13 miles of EV on the drive up. The return trip is downhill and I get about 22-24 miles of EV on the return trip. My EV/HV split is 50/50. I drive much more EV around my neighborhood. ICE rarely comes on the days I work from home and go to the gym, the market, etc.

    I am getting over 100 mpg on my PiP.

  85. 6 miles is on your Window sticker. Look it up.

    Your 100mpg (FAKE one, ask JB what he thinks about it) is SILLY in comparing with many Volt owner's 250mpg+ or Leaf's infinity MPG....

    And you must drive like grandma...

  86. 6 miles @ 117 MPGe. 11 miles @ 95 MPGe.

    You are insulting the owner and claiming his data is fake. You can't get any more Volt fanboi than that.

    Look, Prius PHV is about using less energy (and emitting less emission). It is optimized to use less electricity and less gasoline to do more work without sacrificing the interior space. There are so many dimension to it than EV range.

    Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.

  87. @Dennis Chin,

    "Fan boy", I using the EPA STICKER. It says on it!!!! Owner's mileage has NO MEANING in this argument b/c you are quoting the EPA miles.

    EPA miles for Volt is 38 (35 for the 2012/2011 model) miles and owners frequently get 46-50 miles. In those miles, Volt's MPGe is in the 128 range, FAR greater. But that doesn't mean all Volt owner uses it.

    Now let us look your 6 miles 117MPGe. In those SAME FREAKING miles and condition, the VOLT is in the 120+mpge range due to the "light condition" load.

    Prius PHV use less energy b/c its performance iS CAPPED INTO SUCH LOUSY STATE THAT IT WILL SAVE ENERGY! If Volt's performance is capped in the same crappy performance state, its MPGe will be way better.

  88. You are a mad Volt fanboi indeed. Prius PHV is a plugin hybrid. It is not an EV. Why would you focus only on half of its drivetrain?

    Volt weights more than the Equinox SUV. There is no way it can use less electricity per mile than Prius PHV. BTW, Volt is only 1 second faster than Prius PHV. It is not a sport car by all mean.

    Another thing to note is, by design, Prius PHV will limit large electricity loads. Hence it limits the battery usage for driving conditions where EV is superior (city/town/suburb traffic). By doing so, the electricity consumption remains low at 29kWh/100mi (117 MPGe).

    Volt on the other hand allows the battery up to 100 mph and drain the battery in about 15 mins. Then you are left with 37 MPG on premium gas.

  89. man u r so rude....Good luck with the 4 seater...oh and by the way here in NJ I have spoken with other VOLT owners and my best friend works for GM...the Heater in the Volt is not good at heating the Cabin...poorly planned on Chevys part...that is one of Many reasons I bought the PHEV..advise can take you along way...the Prius may not be a hot rod but it gets me 45 days plus on one 10.6 gal tankful....200 has been my MPGe....and in Hybrid mode ice on I have gotten 60 MPG highway/city...remember why you buy a Hybrid/EV...to save the air we breath and next generations...the HELL WITH PERFORMANCE...save the environment.and use the plug instead of the pump DRIVE A PHEV PLUG IN PRIUS you will NOT be sorry..its a great car well thought out....!

  90. Thank God you agreed with me Chesley...I also have ratios over 50 % EVrange..true results...if you are seeking a HOT ROD vehicle you will NEVER achieve good mileage from these vehicles...you buy a Hybrid to save the environment and for others after our lives are up...most of the time I also do not have my gas engine come on..IF YOU floor the pedal the ICE will come on...drive the vehicle properly and you achieve good numbers...my MPGe has been well over 175...and in Hybrid ONLY highway/City I have always gotten 60 plus MPG even with my Liftback 2010...its a great range also ...the PHEV can get 12-15 EV Range easily...I think Toyota did us all a favor with this vehicle...Chuck in NJ...

  91. I believe the EV range for the PIP is inadequate to significatly reduce fuel consumption for most commuters. More important, I don't believe any vehicle should receive a green sticker, if it is incapable of freeway speeds without combustion.

  92. EXACTLY.

    That is the BIGGEST "SCAM" about Green HOV sticker. But to be fair, that is really the fault of CARB instead of Toyota. Toyota just did a good job "SCAMMING" the system.

  93. Adequate or not totally depends on one's commute and charging pattern. Per EPA, statistics predicts it'll cover 29% with electric miles. About a third is pretty significant. The other side of the equation is the gas usage in hybrid mode. Unlike other plugin hybrids, there is no MPG hit with the hybrid mode for Prius PHV.

    I think the green sticker for the highway speed EV is silly. EPA rated 2011 Volt with 93 MPGe on EV mode (more in city and less on highway). Prius PHV is rated 95 MPGe for using both electricity and gasoline (city and highway combined).

    Did you know that when the ICE is running, it revs at 1,000 rpm? During that time, the battery also powers the wheels resulting in 100+ MPG at highway speed (over 62 mph)?

  94. Again, stupid point. It got hit in SAFETY and PERFORMANCE.

    If you don't understand those two impact efficiency, then stop wasting my time...

    GREEN sticker is for air pollution. Your EPA number doesn't apply here. B/c it is intend for the pollution at the point of the exhaust. PIP can't operate properly at hwy speed without using its engine...

    yeah, @ 1,000rpm which results in such crappy performance, then why don't you add some foot pedals to assist the car too...

  95. There is no guarantee that all Volts will run on electricity in the HOV lane. 37 MPG gas engine that emits higher greenhouse gas doesn't cut it in the HOV lane.

    Using gas engine for high speed and long trip makes sense because gasoline has superior energy density. Majority of the energy spent at high speed is pushing air. If you drive your Volt at top speed on the battery, the juice would run out in about 15 mins.

    Battery is great to drive around town, extending the driving time from a smaller battery. If you average 11 mph in town (stop signs and traffic lights), Prius PHV gives an hour in EV mode. It'll also give 50 MPG on the highway. That combination gives the best of both worlds.

  96. @Dennis Chin,
    You still haven't answered why the extra 150lb battery made the PiP worse in crash result.
    Time after time, I explain to you that EV allow you to offset your emssion by installing solar and charging under solar. PIP doesn't provide much since its smaller battery.
    Sure, PIP "actively" cool its battery thru the cabin air. But if it is parked in the AZ hot climate, does the FAN work well? Fan only reduces the thermal resistance at the junction boundary but it is limited to ambient temperature. Volt's active liquid cooling can take it much farther than amibient air temperature.
    Now as far as your silly arguement on Volt's efficiency and how "inefficient" hybrids are during short trips. Well, that is why Volt works. It is designed to work in all short trips. Plus, it allow you to offset the CO2 emission by installing your own solar.
    Now, let us go back to efficiency. Leaf is more efficient than Tesla, why? B/c of design for PERFORMANCE.
    If I drive as slow as Prius Plugin's performance, Volt will get better efficiency as well. EPA will NOT and do NOT take performance into consideration.

  97. I am not an automotive crash test engineer. I don't even work in the automotive field. Sorry, I cannot answer your question.

    If your goal is to use only renewable energy, get an EV. Why do you have a 37 MPG gas engine?

    Are you saying using gas for range is ok? But it is not ok to use it for hard acceleration or high speed driving?

    Think about it.

  98. From your comment, you don't even look like an engineer...

    Let me tell you why, b/c it added weight without doing anything to change the frame which was NOT optimized for anything heavier. So, it showed how "marginal" the design was in Prius.

    Now, the gas engine is designed so once in blue moon you can take a long trip without getting another car. 75% American commute within 40 miles per day. That is why Volt is designed for those situation.

    If your commute is extra long most of the time, then getting a regular Prius is fine.

    Volt is designed so you can experience all the EVs features without worrying about long distance.


  99. "75% American commute within 40 miles per day."

    That assumes those with 5 miles commute want to spend extra money on the oversized battery.

    People can plugin at work as well. That makes Volt 76 miles EV range, way oversized for them.

    51% of American commute is within 20 miles per day. That group of American are likely go with a less expensive, more functional plugin that gives 20 EV miles.

  100. EV is more efficient if you ignore the upstream (fuel production). That's not seeing the big picture.

    EV such as Leaf emit more greenhouse gas emission than a gas Prius per EPA. They took account of emission from the tailpipe as well as fuel production.

    Volt emits even more emission than the Leaf. In fact Volt emits roughly the same as a 42 MPG gas car.


  101. Would you consider a larger battery option for a plug-in Prius hybrid to get an extended EV only range?

    The current PiP has an 11 mile EV range with a 4.4 kWh battery. What if Toyota offered a 8.8 kWh battery option that enabled a 20+ mile EV range? Assuming $550(*) per kWh for extra capacity, the option would add ~$2400 to MSRP. Does option add value? What range would you consider useful, given incremental upfront cost?

    (*) Note: A federal rebate of $417 applies to each additional kWh of capacity. The rebate for electric drive vehicles starts at $2500 with a min. 4 kWh battery max's at $7500 for 16 kWh (or larger) battery capacity. A small capacity increase requires few changes, but larger than few kWh would impact vehicle architecture.

  102. I will definetly consider the Prius with a much larger battery. If it is 16KWh, I will even consider buying it if Toyota can address the degraded safety rating and provide me with bettery performance. But even with "lower performance" due to the weight increase, I will still "recommend" it.

    Volt is the "king" in terms of providing you the LONGEST EV range without worrying about range like a traditional EV. It is the closest thing to a "practical" EV.

    I will even consider a "smaller" (2 seater) and more sporty Volt with 60 miles range over the current Volt.

  103. How many miles is your commute? Can you charge at work?

    Why don't you get a Model S with 260 miles EV range? Why lug a gas engine, exhaust pipe and gas tank around?

  104. 45 MILES round trip. Charging at work are available some time. But there is also a 185 miles trip once a week which I get 80 miles out of it in EV mode.

    I would love to have a Model S. But when I bought my Volt, Model S wasn't available yet. And You failed to mention the $100k price tag.

    That is why I have always said Fisker Karma is silly b/c for the price, you can get a Tesla S and a Prius/Volt/C-Max....

  105. There is such a plugin and it is called C-MAX Energi. It has 7.6 kWh PHV pack with about 20 EV miles range. It can do 85 mph EV top speed. MSRP is about $2,500 more than Prius PHV.

    Here comes the trade off part since there is no free lunch. There is MPG penalty in hybrid mode when the juice runs out. It is rated 43 MPG instead of 47 on regular hybrid. The trunk has less space due to the extra battery. When you fold down the rear seats, the floor is not flat (see pic below).


    Energi top speed (with gas) is also lower (102 vs 115 mph). I believe it is due to PSD gearing tweak to enable 85 mph EV speed without spinning ICE. Prius PHV EV limit is 62 mph.

  106. Correction about the pricing. After tax credit, both end up about the same. However, Toyota is having $3,500 cash bonus on Prius PHV until Nov 5th.

  107. C-Max's engine still come on under heavy loading even in EV mode.
    Top speed beyond 100mph is almost pointless even for speed fan like me. B/c that is almost impossible to find roadway like that to cruise.
    Now, getting to 100mph is important. B/c that shows how much passing power you have. That is where PIP failed...

  108. Yeah, it will take PIP like 60 seconds to get to that speed...

    My Volt reached 98 mph this morning passing slow traffics on an uphill today. And I still got to work using about 27 miles of range traveling 22.5 miles... All were done in EV mode with super smooth performance and handling.

  109. Hey Dennis, do you think the C-Max Energi rated 43MPG instead of 47MPG on the regular hybrid is because the gas engine is charging the battery pack? Or is it because of extra weight?
    Thanks for the picture of the floor in the back-I was wondering what it looked like back there.

  110. The extra weight would definitely affect it. I think the powersplit device was re-geared as well to enable 85 mph EV top speed without the gas engine spinning. Hence, the top speed of Energi is 102 mph vs. 115 for the hybrid. All of those combination probably dragged it down to 43 MPG.

    C-MAX hybrid uses path prediction algorithm to optimize MPG. It will do very well on the familiar routes but lower MPG on new and unfamiliar routes. New owners are finding that out and their MPG is slowly raising with over a few thousand miles on the odometer. However, they have not reached the EPA rating yet.

  111. 6 miles now? It's almost not worth even plugging it in.... It's just barely a Plug-in Hybrid, certainly not an EREV or an EV by any means....


  112. 6 miles @ 117 MPGe. 11 miles @ 95 MPGe.

    It covers about half (29% vs 64%) the electric miles as would the Volt, per EPA. For the remaining gas miles, 50 MPG is more efficient than 37 MPG.

    It is important to look at efficiency of both fuels because they use both.

  113. thats nonsense, I must have a different PIP
    For the record its a 2013 but I'm getting 12.9 and sometimes 14 (hilly where I live). Not sure why those with long commutes would buy one and then bitch - a little research would've helped. My commute and daily trips allow for a charge in between so I'm in EV mode 95% of the time.

  114. Appreciate the great input on this...my wife and I are in the process of deciding on our first Plug In.
    Every day, my wife drops off kids at school (needing 5 seating!), runs errands and returns home (home based business)which entails approximately a 20 mile loop (approx 90 min) she then would be able to plug in at our home office (for approx 6 hrs) until it's time to pick kids up at school &/or errands.
    However, twice a week, she has to make sales calls that may involve 150 mile round trips during the day. Every night the car can be plugged in to recharge.
    We have looked at Volt (not enough seating), PIP (not enough cargo capacity) Nissan Leaf (not enough range for sales days).
    Do you think the Ford C-Max Energi is our best fit?

  115. Prius PHV cargo: 21.6 cu.ft
    C-Max Energi cargo: 19.2 cu.ft

    Prius PHV passenger: 93.7 cu.ft
    C-Max Energi passenger: 99.7 cu.ft

    Prius PHV has more cargo volume but Energi has more passenger volume. C-Max Energi has more EV range but Prius PHV has 50 MPG gas engine. Prius is wider while Energi is taller. That may be the determining factor based on the type of cargo you load. The rear seats can be folded down. Prius PHV floor will be flat but not the Energi.

    Either choice is good for you guys. Go test drive and see which you like better.

    Here is a tip. Charge often and save money. Don't pay for the extra battery you won't need and end up sacrificing interior size.

  116. Thanks for your help! That was real nice of you. You helped a lot with what I thought I knew about cargo space. My teenage boys are huge and I probably ought to go with the extra passenger space. It did feel bigger inside than the Prius. It also felt higher off the ground and was very easy to get in and out. Note your specs on Energi is taller - thanks! We had a prius 4 years ago and we did sit in a C-max to compare. Unfortunately, it wasn't a Energi, but I think that they are the same inside? However you said the floor in the rear won't be flat if we get the Energi?

  117. If the passenger space is more important, I would go with C-MAX. See the Energi cargo floor.


  118. Very well stated...you thought like me and did your research before TOYOTA is right in lighter makes better sense as well as the drag coefficient being the best...smaller battery equals more charging and better Hybrid mode MPG is due to lighter vehicle....CMAX ENERGI is closer to 4,800lbs...Prius PHEV is just over 3,100lbs..why carry XTRA weight around when you bought the vehicle to reduce fuel usage...?

  119. I highly recommend the C-Max Energi in this case.

    It is faster, better performance and potentially safer (since PIP is rated 4 star).

    Also, based on list price, the after rebate price will be better in the C-Max as well.

    Another thing to worry, if you live in CA and getting green HOV sticker is important to you, then you might want to consider PIP.

    I personally will take the C-Max b/c its better performance.

    I can't stand a car that take longer than 10 sec to get to 60mph. That is "short bus" slow...

  120. Thanks for you help! My wife and I tried a C-max and we're very impressed. I test drove it and traded seats with her at the 1/2 way point on the test drive. She got behind the wheel (thinking like the Prius we owned 4 years ago) pulled out into traffic and peeled the tires! She apologized to the salesman and looked sheepishly at me. I started laughing, and reassured her it's O.K. Wow this car can certainly "get out of the way". I thought that hybrids were a bit boring, but not this car!
    We live in Oregon - no HOV sticker. But I looked at our electric bill. It only costs about 8 cents per KWH. Now I'm trying to get info on how much electricity will be needed to charge the battery pack on the Energi. Any Idea on true EV range? Thanks again!

  121. be careful about the numbers...Ford has made a great try BUT there Energi CMax is as heavy as the Volt...the numbers are not including the heater needs in colder climates and the Hybrid mode will get you 43 in the PHEV you can get 60 plus Mpg...as well as the 95 is more if you do not floor the gas pedal...i love my choice...te PHEV Hybrid Synergy Drive is the BEST drivetrain out there.ask away if you need more info....

  122. You didn't mention there is no spare tire, only a canister of sealant that should get you to a station to repair the tire. I checked the kwh used it takes to recharge the batteries. Found out its cheaper to use gas.
    I did have a lucky break. Purchased the car in RI had 5000 miles on it and totaled it on Interstate 75 in FL.
    Now I back driving a 2013 Prius standard hybrid. Best hybrid on the market since day one.

  123. @James: I'd very much like to know what you pay per kilowatt-hour for electricity, and how much per gallon for gasoline. It is quite rare to find a higher cost-per-mile for a car running on grid power versus gasoline.

    Please show us your figures!

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.