Pros - Drives like any other car if you want.
- No "EV range limitation": ~40 miles electric, PLUS ~250 gas.
- Over 1500 miles driven, 8.1 gallons of gas.
- All my complaints are nits (except the first "con," and that's not unique to the Volt).
Cons - Human factors of the center console controls are miserable.
- Lots of techie info on details of energy use not available to driver.
- Typically, long waiting list for the car--BUT, check with your dealer, because some have pre-order cancellations.
Summary You get in this car, start it, and drive it. The real magic of the Volt is that it drives like essentially any other sporty compact on the road, despite an entire new kind of power plant and drivetrain. Run out of battery charge? Just keep driving (in fact, if you don't pay attention, you won't realize the gasoline engine just started and is powering the generator!).
BUT, if you WANT to pay attention to the difference that is the Volt and its being a plug-in hybrid, it's a whole new driving experience. Very quiet, very smooth. Acceleration is peppy: not head-snapping, but very respectable for a stock sporty compact.
Though I've not taken a trip where I had to refill the gas tank en route, I have taken a few trips beyond battery-only range, including one of about 85 miles, the other of 225 miles. On the 85 mile trip, the entire return portion was on the gas engine, which got 41 mpg highway. The 225 mile trip gave me an overall trip mpg of about 49 (including some parts in a 70 mph zone on I-5 at, um, the speed limit: not the most efficient way to drive ANY car).
During the cooler winter months in the central California coastal area, I saw 35-38 miles from a full battery; now that it's warming up, I'm seeing 42-43. That's with very normal driving habits: just driving the car. I avoid the jackrabbit starts and stops, but otherwise don't do anything special.
I'm waiting for my 240V charging station to be installed; in the meantime, I charge the car from a regular 120V outlet in the garage. If I'm going to visit someone without a charging station, I can bring that portable 120V charging setup along (it comes with the car, and fits in its own storage area beneath the cargo area's deck) and charge up. (What about the etiquette of doing this? I'll always ask, and always offer, when necessary, a few dollars to repay the cost of the electricity I'm using. Electricity, though much less expensive than gasoline for powering a car, isn't free. A full charge will cost something around $1 where I live.) If the car's plugged in for an hour on 120V, it will get about 4 miles of electricity into the battery (and about 10 miles if on 240V): not much, perhaps, but still less expensive and less polluting than gasoline.
At home, all of our electricity is from renewable sources: no coal, no natural gas. (It's all solar and wind.) Great trade-off for me: cheaper energy than gasoline, and absolutely no greenhouse gasses nor depletion of fossil fuel reserves.
One commenter mentions "return on investment". Where I live, it costs about 4x more to drive a high-mpg car a given distance on gasoline than to drive that same distance on electricity. That will only increase as gas prices continue to climb. At $4/gallon and assuming a ~$10,000 premium for the Volt over a similarly equipped gasoline-powered car in its class, drive 5,000 miles and you've hit the break-even point on car+"fuel" costs. (Given the Volt's performance, standard equipment, and appointments, a ~$10K premium is in the ballpark. If it's a $20K premium, make that about 6,700 miles to break even.) Yes, there are unknowns about battery disposal, but we're already solving those for other devices using the same technology (portable computers and mobile phones, e.g.). But, what's the ROI on the smoothness, the decrease in pollution, the decrease in greenhouse gasses, the ability to "fill up" at home or at work without an extra stop? Can't wait for the full charge while plugged in on an errand? No sweat: get what you can and keep driving, knowing the gas engine will kick in when needed.
Regarding the center console controls, it's VERY hard to work the climate system without looking at the console and the touch screen. In all of my previous cars, that was not the case. The Volt is not alone in this, either. (A friend who works at NASA on cockpit human factors design completely agreed with my observation when I gave him a tour and demo ride.) This is, by far, my biggest complaint about the car, and it's hardly unique to the Chevy Volt, much less to its Voltec drivetrain.
Chevrolet's entire package around the Volt adds to the car. Sure, some of this is probably just for the early adopters, like the extra two years of OnStar service. Others, like apps for iOS and Android devices (and a Web site) to monitor the car and control its charging and provide the functions of the keyless entry remote, and the stereo with very reasonable sound that is designed specifically for lower power draw than a typical car sound system, are there to stay.
Is the Volt perfect? No. Did GM get this car really, really right? Yes.
GM clearly worked hard on this car, and it shows.
Pros Who needs gas? - I drive less than 40 miles Monday-Friday -I don't.
I go to work and back home every day, charge up at night on 120 VAC and go to work the next day - no gas, and at 1/3-1/4 the cost per mile of gas when I use electricity.
Sports car and
Cons So far the only negative that I can report is that the radio turns on when I want to check the energy flow, charge data or driving and climate control efficiency. So I lower the volume.
Summary For those non-techies out there who do not understand batteries - The batteries don't die in 6-7 years, they typically fade away slowly, losing some of their charge storage ability, and there are companies out there who cannot wait to get their hands of these old batteries 10-15 years from now. They have plans to use these in energy storage - electric power production applications.
So do I like my 2011 VOLT, you bet I do. And I've been driving my Lexus RX300 for 11 years amd a RX350 for 2 years. The feel of the Volt is like my RX and the quietness is the same, as reported to me by another Lexus owner.
Pros - Inexpensive to fuel the Volt, both electricity and gas (see summary section below)
- Greater acceleration than a typical 4-cylinder car, especially from a stop.
- Handles well
- Air conditioner or heater precondition for up to 10 minutes before you get
Cons Expensive for a small car.
Summary I have owned my Chevy Volt for more than 2 months and still love everything about it. My Volt has been driven 2341 miles total, 1960 of those electric only miles, an average of 200 MPG. Or whenever driving on the highway after depleting the battery, my Volt gets about 37 MPG. I still have half a tank of gas left from filling up once with $25 worth of premium gas. My electric bill has only risen by about $20 per month.
Pros Really gets 40 miles per charge.
Fun to drive.
Charges in 3.75 hours on 240V.
Lots of tech.
Cons Remove the lip at the back of the cargo area. Keep the rear seat belts flat against the seat backs when the seats are folded forward for easier access.
Move the cup holders forward. Use the touch screen for PRNDL.
Add a rear window wiper.
Summary In 1000 miles of driving I've used 4.5 gallons of gas. The car is quiet, comfortable and fun to drive. I don't smile when I pass gas stations. I do smile when I pass someone driving one of those little $40,000 BMW's or Audi's or MB's that only runs on gas.
Pros No compromise sporty, fun, and smooth car that mainly lets me drive on battery passing gas stations. Occasionally use gas for after work events or trips (last week 260 miles & 0.5 gals of gas). Nice trip from NY to IL after purchase.
Cons I understand they had budget and time constraints. On the next generation I hope they have auto heated steering wheel like the auto heated seats (warm up/shut off) and proximity unlocking.
Summary I charge from mid-night to 4am when my IL ComEd rates are cheaper and it cost me ~$0.70. I compare that to $3.99/gal and my 2 gal/day old ride to work. STILL, you don't save real mine on new cars and not the reason on invest in a 1st generation anything. Many reasons to buy this car and I could not be more thrilled. I give demos about every other day and by the end of the demo and questions answered they have a complete different perspective on the car - they are very impressed.
This car drives just like any other automatic you have driven. Proved it to my neighbor and his wife a few weeks ago and NOW they own one! Just get in, press brake, start, and put in (D)rive.
The car is so well engineered and smooth when you run out of battery (I'm getting 34-43 miles/charge - weather) an the gas generator runs *just* enough to propel the car but not charge the battery (would waste fuel). Charge up later at home and go some more. You don't even have to think about how far you want to or need to go that day or weekend. Just go!
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