Diesel engines are by far better than hybrids. The torque is available at all times as opposed to hybrids that have the initial electric motor torque, but when it switches to the weak 4 cylinder gas engine has barely any torque, such as going up a hill for miles.
I have a 2009 Prius and a 2011 JSW TDI. They are both high mileage vehicles, but in different arenas. The Prius in the king in the city and the Jetta is the master of the freeway. The tank average for city driving in the Prius is 50-MPG with the air conditioning running and 60-MPG without the air conditioning.
The Prius MPG are hit hard by longer warmup cycles, as the engine has to reach a certain temperature before the it will start cycling the gasoline engine off. This is better managed on the 2010 and later models via a 'forced' electric mode button on the dash.
As for driving, the Prius has enough power and 'instant on' torque off the line, but it is not a sporty feel. Driving a Prius is fun when you pulse-and-glide and actively monitor the power flow so as to maximize regenerative braking, electric only driving...and maximize your MPG. It is kind of like a video game at times.
But the JSW TDI is very sporty, less technical, from a driving perspective, and when you learn how to play the pedal while maximizing your instantaneous MPG on the dash, you can close the MPG gap on the Prius.
As for interior storage, the JSW has more interior room, but the Prius is like a clown car and you can pile a great deal of stuff inside when you drop down the back seat. As long as the hatchback extension doesn't eliminate the ability to drop the back seat flat, the storage capability should be better.
However, if you hold out for the plug-in Prius, the TDI will loose the MPG competition as the city MPG, if you do a lot of short trips, will increase sharply. I am hesitant to say how much, as there is no clear standard how to compare a full time burner with a full-hybrid (electric only mode capable) power train system.
But don't forget to amortize the cost of the Prius with the MPG. And the same for the TDI. When you boil it down to cents/mile to operate, this is the true operating cost.
When gas prices boomed a few years ago, the Prius was a waiting list only item and the dealers were charging MSRP "plus", with a range of $2K to $5K over MSRP. The next generation of Prius, especially the plug-in, may see the same MSRP "plus" pricing.
My bank has a "buyers agent" program and I picked up my 2011 JSW TDI for $400 "below" MSRP. I would see if your bank has the same program, which could cut several thousand off the sticker price for you.
Bottom line, city only driving the Prius wins and the DPF regeneration cycle on the TDI may be problematic for you. Windy roads, highway...the sporty TDI is a blast and gets good mileage. I have one of each, so a short trip for groceries I grab the Prius key and for a long drive, with the panoramic roof opened to complete the sporty driving experience, I grab the TDI keys. At least when I can claw the TDI keys out of my wife's hand - she is the speed demon in the house and loves to drive the TDI.
Asking on a TDI site? Gee, I guess what answer you'll get... The JSW is the better looking car by far. No offense to TDILow3. You must be pretty conflicted.
You can get some higher end options on the Prius though, like Smart key entry and even LED headlights and taillights.
edit: It looks like the Prius V is still pretty good but not nearly as much as the hatch. According to google, the Prius V has 50% more space than the hatch. However, it also goes from 51/48 mpg for the Prius hatch to 42/38 mpg in the Prius V. Vs. the JSW TDI's 30/42 isn't that big of a difference and the JSW will probably have better resale and is cheaper too. Win for the JSW, IMHO.
I bought my JSW in December after doing a lot of comparison with the regular Prius. My understanding is that the Prius V will have fuel economy of ~8mpg lower than the regular one, so that should be considered.
In order to make an informed decision I rented a 2011 Prius for a day and drove it 350 miles. As for fuel economy, the Prius does substantially better than the Jetta around town...in the mid-40's versus mid-30's in my part of the world. On the other hand, the Prius did worse than the JSW on the freeway. I took the Prius from Berkeley, CA up to the crest of the Sierra on highway 80 and got 45 mpg indicated, but the actual mileage was about 42. By comparison I get about 46 mpg on the same trip with the Jetta. The Jetta regularly gets in the low 50s on extended freeway trips if I keep the speed around 65 mph.
As for the driving experience, there is no comparison. The Prius is devoid of any feel, and the CVT is hard for me to like. Highway acceleration is particularly ugly, with an increase in noise, but not much increase in speed. The Prius handles really badly compared to the Jetta. The Jetta wagon has a bunch more room, is far more pleasant on the freeway, and, especially with the manual transmission feels like a real car.
I ended up buying the Jetta because I just couldn't stand driving the Prius. I think in the end that's got to be a major factor in making the decision.
SEANR, yes I am a bit conflicted, as I am playing both courts. However, at least both of the slots in my garage are filled with high mileage cars. One very techy with some of the 'driving feel' compromised and the other blending the feel of a sports car with high mileage. Where as my neighbor's garages are filled with mini-vans and full size trucks...none of the mileage and none of the sporty driving experience.
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