The pitch: Can an electric powered car be just as much fun to drive as a regular one?
A lot has been written about the new Chevrolet Volt, which was just recently named the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year® - from the fact the car was designed, engineered, built and delivered to customers in an astonishing 29 months to the Volt being the world's first mass-produced, plug-in electric vehicle with a range-extending onboard gasoline engine. There seems to be no end to the discussion of the Volt's revolutionary design and powertrain and we're glad to see them roll off the assembly line and into garages across America.
What we find most interesting is that the Volt isn't just a hybrid or an electric car per se, where you have to settle for less, but the Volt is more like the main tool you'd use in your toolbox, it can do almost anything. With the Volt, you get the benefits of both but with out the comprise of each.
In part this two-part review, we'll talk about a look at what makes the Volt so revolutionary and fun to drive and also cover what's brand new and so good about the Volt.
Available to order at participating dealers in CA, CT, DC, MI, NJ, NY, TX. Quantities limited.
The Ride and Drive:
We really liked the silent nature of the ride; it's almost ghostly effect of hearing close to nothing while driving down the road. While the Volt is no Corvette – nor is it meant to be – we did like the that fact that when you press on the gas, the Volt goes, with a 0-60 in about 9 seconds and a top speed of 100 miles an hour. Within the cabin, we liked the comfortable, ergonomically designed cockpit and the slew of technology at hand. Also, the fact there was room for four full sized adults and their luggage went a long way to assuage a lot of our fears. We also liked the exterior – it smooth lines help to contribute to the Volt's amazing 0.281 drag coefficient.
Almost everything is new on the Chevrolet Volt, but mainly, it's the powerplant that gets us so excited. The Volt is powered by GM's Voltec propulsion system, which consists of a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and electric drive unit that provides an EPA-estimated electric range of 35 miles, depending on factors like terrain, driving techniques and temperature. A 1.4L gasoline-powered engine extends the range up to an additional 340 miles on a full tank of gas, according to EPA estimates, by operating the vehicle's electric drive system until the car can be plugged in and recharged or refueled. Which marks the main difference between the Volt and electric-only vehicles - which stop running when a recharge isn't immediately available.
We also like that the Chevrolet Volt is a real car – and drives like one too - and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about nine seconds. Which is what we expect from the car company that brings us the Corvette.
For one thing, we like the massive range – 35 miles on electric alone and up to 340 more with a full tank of gas, according to EPA estimates. We also like that Chevrolet went the extra step with the small, environmentally conscious features like equipping the Volt with a Bose Energy Efficient Sound System that's 30% smaller, 40% lighter and uses 50% less energy than Bose's standard models while still delivering the quality sound you expect from Bose®. Also, we like the fact that the Volt's performance isn't affected when the battery is low. In our drive, we found no degradation in the Volt's performance after the battery reached its lower state of charge and found the Volt's 62 kW range extending generator provided ample power to propel the vehicle. We also like the fact that all we needed to do to charge the Volt was to find a plug – a 120-volt plug takes about 10 hours, depending on climate, for a charge and the optional 240-Volt charging station can take as little as 4 hours - and plug the Volt in. Another great feature was the MyChevrolet and OnStar MyLink™ apps(1), which are available for the iPhone and the Motorola Droid. Anytime we can use our smart phone device seamlessly with our vehicle is a big win.
$41,000 is the Volt's MSRP, but the Volt checks in at $33,500 after the $7,500 federal tax credit(2).
The verdict is in and it's good. We think that Chevrolet has produced a world class and future leaning vehicle that is right for the times. The combination powertrain – where the Volt can run on gas or electric – presents a no compromise solution and amazing fuel economy.(3) Volt is available at participating dealers in CA, MI, TX, NY, NJ, CT and DC. Quantities are limited.
We can't wait to test Volt 2.0!
(1) Requires active OnStar subscription, which is standard for 5 years.(2) Price based on MSRP less $7,500 tax credit, which is subject to customer's eligibility for the maximum credit. Tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment extra. Consult your tax professional before claiming any tax credit.
(3) EPA-est. 93 MPGe (electric); 35 city, 40 hwy (gas).