Top 5 Best Plug-in Hybrids to Buy Instead of a Chevrolet Volt

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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With Chevrolet’s cancellation of the Volt, one of the most useful plug-in hybrid electric vehicles you could buy, you’ve got two alternatives to consider once existing dealership stocks dwindle down to zero.

Option 1: Get a used Chevy Volt.

Option 2: Choose an alternative that doesn’t provide the same blend of EV range, value, and utility in a single vehicle.

“Great,” you’re thinking. “Way to have a positive outlook, Wardlaw.”

I’m sorry, but in nearly every way, the Volt set the bar in its segment. And in the few areas where it didn’t, the compromises it required weren’t deal-breakers – especially when the Volt was used for its intended purpose as a daily commuter vessel.

If you’d rather not get a used car, there are several vehicles that you can buy new that will deliver some, if not all, of the benefits of the defunct Volt. They’re listed below in alphabetical order.

2019 BMW i3

Red and Black BMW i3
With the demise of the Chevrolet Volt, the only other electric car with a range-extending gasoline engine is the BMW i3. (BMW)

 

With a price that starts at $45,445 (including the $995 destination charge), the 2019 BMW i3 is significantly more expensive than the Volt ($34,095). However, it’s the only other electrified vehicle on the market that offers a similar kind of drivetrain.

The i3 is an electric car supplying 153 miles of driving range. To help eliminate range anxiety like the Volt did, BMW will install a “range extender” that provides you with a gas-fueled 47-mile safety net.

That’s the opposite of how the Volt worked. It delivered less electric range and more gas-fueled range. But in principle, the two cars are the same.

If you decide to get a BMW i3 with a range extending 2-cylinder gasoline engine that serves as an onboard generator, you’ll pay an extra $3,850 for the added peace of mind.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2019 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid
Supplying 32 miles of electric driving range, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the roomiest and most useful plug-in hybrid you can buy. (Chrysler)

 

One of the Chevrolet Volt’s few flaws was its cramped interior. The back seat was tight for two people, let alone three. And the cargo area was a bit of a joke even if the folding rear seats offered extra utility.

There are no problems with interior space when it comes to the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. This plug-in provides 32 miles of electric driving range, and then operates as a hybrid averaging an EPA-rated 32 mpg in combined driving.

At the same time, it seats up to seven people and can carry as much as 140.5 cubic feet of cargo with the third-row seat folded down and the second-row seats removed from the vehicle. Need to carry a family of four on a road trip? No problem, and the Pacifica Hybrid’s huge 87.5 cu.-ft. cargo area will hold all the luggage and gear you’re taking with you, locked and secure inside the vehicle.

As far as price is concerned, the least expensive Pacifica Hybrid is $47,040, partly due to the patently ridiculous $1,495 shipping charge to get it from Windsor, Ontario to your dealership.

2019 Honda Clarity Plug-in

Gray 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid
A great alternative to the Chevrolet Volt, the 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-in offers nearly as much electric driving range at just about the same price. (Honda)

 

Your best alternative to a Chevrolet Volt is the 2019 Honda Clarity Plug-in. It gives you 47 miles of electric driving range, just six miles less than the Volt. After that, the Honda operates as a hybrid returning 42 mpg in combined driving, same as the Chevy. And at $34,320 including destination, the Clarity is essentially the same price, just $225 more than the Volt.

Granted, the Clarity’s styling represents an acquired taste, but it’s not like the Volt is a gorgeous automobile. Besides, the Honda can genuinely seat five people in a truly midsize cabin decked out in Acura-quality materials. Comparatively speaking, the Chevy’s interior is about as comfortable as Basic Economy for everyone except the driver, and parts of the interior are downright cheap looking.

The Volt, however, is a hatchback with folding seats to expand its unimpressive 10.6 cu.-ft. cargo area. The Clarity is a sedan with a 15.5 cu.-ft. trunk and folding rear seats. You’ll be able to fit bigger and bulkier items into the Volt, which, when you think about it, is the Chevy’s only benefit in comparison to the Honda.

2019 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

Silver 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid
The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid doesn’t travel as far on electricity as the Volt, but it gets much better fuel economy once the gas engine kicks in. And it’s almost $8,000 cheaper. (Hyundai)

 

Like the Chevy Volt, the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid is a 5-door hatchback. But the Hyundai is bigger inside, offering more room for people and cargo. And it’s a heckuva lot cheaper with prices starting at $26,270 including destination.

Given that more affordable price of entry, you could upgrade to the Limited trim level and then add the Ultimate Package, winding up in the same value neighborhood as the Volt. And Hyundai isn’t as stingy as Chevy is when it comes to roadside assistance, warranty coverage, or free trial periods to connected service packages. You can even exchange the car within three days if you don’t like it.

What’s the downside? Well, the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid can only travel 29 miles on electricity before the gasoline engine fires up. That’s 24 miles less than the Volt. But, once the Hyundai switches to hybrid operation, it returns 52 mpg in combined driving, 10 mpg more than the Chevy.

Hmmm…

2019 Toyota Prius Prime

Silver 2019 Toyota Prius Prime
Though its electric driving range pales in comparison to the Volt’s, the Toyota Prius Prime is roomier inside, it is less expensive, and it is much more efficient when running on its gas engine. (Toyota)

 

Given that Toyota was a pioneer in the hybrid space, you’d think the company would build a more competitive plug-in hybrid car, but it doesn’t.

Nevertheless, as an alternative to the Volt, the 2019 Toyota Prius Prime is worth consideration. You get a bigger interior and more cargo space than the Chevy provides, and for a lower starting price of just $28,280 including destination. Like with the Hyundai, that gives you lots of room to upgrade a Prius Prime to the top Advanced trim level with all the bells and whistles.

The main problem with the Prius Prime is its modest 25-mile electric driving range, which is half of what the Volt supplies. But, you will get 12 extra miles per gallon when running the Toyota as a hybrid.


About the Author

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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