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    Would You Commit to These Green Cars?

    1-PHOTO-Philip RuthBy Philip Ruth

    February means Valentine’s Day, which has most of us thinking about our romantic lives. For those in relationships, the big VD typically means celebrating the bond and reaffirming the long-term commitment that’s been made.

    For those who are dating, the arrival of Cupid’s arrow can spur questions such as, “How long to I want to commit here? And how far do I want this to go?”

    These questions arise when you’re thinking about buying a green car, and the two we’re checking out this week provide their own answers. The Toyota Prius Prime typifies the kind of long-term thinking that accompanies a future-charted relationship, while the Volkswagen e-Golf hews more to a dating scenario that is more about the now.

    More to the point, the Prius Prime is the one you would buy, while the e-Golf is probably best experienced through a lease. That’s because the Prius Prime is near the edge of current technology in terms of plug-in gas/electric hybrids. The e-Golf, on the other hand, is a solid pick in terms of current pure-electric offerings, but the advancing EV state of the art means you might prefer another in just a few years’ time.

    That’s not to say that VW isn’t keeping the e-Golf in the game. Its 2016 range was listed at 83 miles, and a new lithium battery raises that to a claimed 124 miles. That may not sound like a lot if you’re accustomed to 400-mile ranges from your gas-powered car, but buyers who have held off on choosing an EV as a commuter because of the typical sub-100-mile ranges might now be able to justify acquiring an e-Golf.

    Car-01The EV that’s changing the game is the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, which I recently sampled and will cover in an upcoming column. GM pegs the Bolt’s range at a Tesla-like 238 miles, which nearly doubles that of the e-Golf. Bolts retail for about $10K more than comparable e-Golfs, so you do pay for the advantage, but the Bolt nevertheless shows the widening gap between current EV offerings and what’s to come.

    Car-02So that’s why I’d go the lease route with an e-Golf, and it would likely be the first current EV I’d consider. Golfs are terrific cars all around—they’re handsome and purposeful, with the solid structure, engaging handling and rich look and feel that characterizes most VWs. The e-Golf delivers these superlatives with the effortless acceleration and tomb-like quietness of a good EV.

    But what if you want EV efficiency with a long-term automotive partner? That’s where the plug-in Prius Prime shines. Its Chevrolet Volt direct competitor has double the Prius Prime’s 25-mile electric range, but the Chevy’s 420-mile gas/electric range falls far short of the Toyota’s staggering 640-mile claim.

    Both the e-Golf and Prius Prime land at the same about-$30K price point and are accompanied with substantial tax discounts. The decision between them comes down to how far you want to go with them, in more ways than one.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant at Check out his automotive staging service at