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Review: 2011 Chevrolet Volt

Silently, the Bow-tie-badged car coasted through the darkness of the evening. A singular, soft glow that was utterly alone on this particular stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway. It sped swiftly. I was sunk in my own thoughts as I piloted the vehicle through the inky black of night. In the cabin, I was awash in colors that emanated from the both the seven-inch screen at the top of the center stack and the information display taking part in Occupy Dashboard.

The numbers were impressive.

I’d spent a week with the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. During that time, I managed to use just 3.1 gallons of gas. With no office to arrive at each morning, I was free to journey to locations near and far. The near destinations being related to the grocery store, the dry cleaner, and the rather large beer section at my local Whole Foods. Distant destinations saw me trekking to visit friends who’ve moved away from the cool climes of coastal California, to find warmer days inland. How far did that 3.1 gallons of gas get me? A hair over 300 miles.

Is there more to the 2011 Volt then miserly gas adventures? Yes. A lot more, in fact.

Upon first glance, the Volt is quite boring. It looks as if a Cruze was sent back to our time from the not-too-distant future. A time when parents were not allowed to have more than two children, and the Cruze developed a fat rear end in the intervening years. Keep staring at the Volt, however, and the looks being to grow on you. All of the exterior details, while seemingly simple on their own, come together to create an overall aesthetic that lets you know there’s quite a bit more going on underneath the skin of this four door.

Sharp headlights cut deeply into the front fenders, and sweep back into a sky-high shoulder line. Chevy’s designers did a good job attempting to cut down on that height by adding some black trim and a chrome strip, which tends to keep the eye running lower along the side of the car. Don’t be fooled though, there is a whole lot of real estate between the ground and the side glass. Moving backwards, the blocky taillights play nicely with the semi-futuristic visuals and sit neatly below the spoiler.

I’m not entirely gaga over the outside of the car though, as the forged 17-inch wheels seem to detract from the “I’ve been sent back in time to find John Connor” vibe. The wheels themselves are fine, but they seem to be better suited to an entry-level Cruze or Sonic. Exterior aesthetics should mesh from the roof to the rubber, and that doesn’t happen here because of the fairly basic five-spoke rollers.

Swing open the door, and the Volt tones down the futuristic tones. They’re still present, but in a manner that represents a quantum leap where even Dr. Sam Beckett would feel at ease. The only “Oh, boy!” would escape from Beckett’s mouth when he glanced at the center stack. The glossy gray surface is where you’ll find both infotainment and HVAC controls, as well as a few extra bits of tech to show you just how efficiently (or not) you’re driving. Minus a few major control points, there are no buttons to speak of. Instead, you operate the systems by touching the various nubbins protruding from the otherwise smooth surface of the center stack.

That’s right, I said nubbins.

Touch a nub, and the system responds. It’s odd at first because a light touch doesn’t produce the desired result. Once you find the proper pressure point to please a nubbin (what?), however, you’ll find the system is rather simple albeit a bit overdone. A simple button can still look good when done right.

Still, it’s all easy to reach from the driver’s seat. Said throne is surprisingly comfortable, yet also properly bolstered. The unit looks like it will be a harsh place to sit, almost appearing to lack cushioning, but my back was coddled and long trips were a breeze. Thankfully though, I didn’t have to sit in either of the back seats, of which there are only two. That’s right, this is a four-seater. Rear passengers have up to 34.1-inches of legroom at their command… as long as the driver is height challenged. I’m 6’3″, which means anyone riding behind me will learn to appreciate public transportation.

The heart of the Volt isn’t related to the interior or exterior design aesthetics. Not even close really, because the most important bits of the car are hidden away under the hood and underneath the long central tunnel that runs through the cabin. The 2011 Volt is a front-wheel-driver powered by a 149-horsepower (111-kW)/273 pound-feet of torque Voltec electronic drive unit, which receives its motivation courtesy of a 435-pound 16-kW lithium-ion battery pack.

All of that twist is available right from the get-go, which can make for a surprising turn of events at every stoplight. What’s also surprising is just how quietly the entire affair of driving actually is. This car is Lindsay Lohan at a Mensa meeting quiet. That silence helps to transition my mind state into a tranquil place, and the entire ride feels serene and smooth. The only sounds hitting my ears are the faint road noise produced from the tires, the music from the audio system, and the occasional Jetson’s-like hum heard when braking.

The Volt isn’t completely electric, as you most certainly know. A 1.4-liter four-banger has joined the Volt party, and serves to extend the driving range once the battery has been drained. Once that happens, the Volt becomes a standard hybrid and balances efficiency by playing nice with both propulsion systems. When driving around town, I was able to stay entirely in electric mode, and then plug the car in when I returned home. Only on longer journeys, where I used up all my precious electric go-juice, was I forced to engage the gas burner.

If I lost you up to this point, I understand. The car sounds a bit boring, right?

It isn’t.

Thanks to that 435-pound weight sitting at the bottom of the car, the center of gravity is quite low. Turn the wheel of the Volt and there’s no body roll. Pick up speed, find another turn and try again… still no body roll. The Volt corners downright shockingly well. Now, don’t get me wrong here, this is no Miata. It’s a 3,781-pound extended-range electric hatchback on a quest for serious gasoline frugality. Yet it’s also a surprisingly entertaining ride.

The instant torque and flat cornering make for smile-inducing rides on the right road. Sure, the smiles come with a very noticeable drop in driving range… but you have the gas engine to back you up.

The brakes are another matter. Since this is an electric(-ish) vehicle, it utilizes regenerative brakes to recapture heat energy lost when applying the stoppers. Like most GM products, there is the initial absence of brake feel for the first inch of pedal travel, then the YOU STOP NOW! sensation of eating the steering wheel. It takes some getting used to, but I picked up the proper braking procedure by the end of my first day with the car.

So should we all be running out to buy $43,390 Chevrolet Volts (base price $39,995, or $32,495 with $7,500 federal tax credit)? Of course not. The 2011 Volt, however, is the car I will happily recommend to folks who fit in the right box. These people will be empty nesters or childless, have the income to support the purchase, a garage or driveway space to charge up the car, and be non-enthusiasts. There are a ton of people that fit that bill, and the Volt might just be the perfect car for them.

With my heavy right foot and a few long trips, I was able to force the car to suck down 3.1 gallons of gas. Had I stuck to my neighborhood during my week with the Volt, I would’ve used zero fuel. That’s amazing to me. I was never bored with the car, and never felt like I was driving something that looked like a college engineering project. I floored it from stop lights, and giggled like a child every single time. The braking noise, which really does sound like something from the Jetson’s, served to remind everyone in the car that the Volt is something different.

The downsides are certainly easy to see, of course. First and foremost is the price. $40,000 is a ton of money for the majority of the population. Sure, you will be saving major green at the pump, but the initial price barrier to entry is too steep for many to overcome. Secondly, the charging times are less than ideal. Chevrolet will sell you a home 240V system, which cuts time in half compared to the 120V that I was using to re-up my energy ante each evening. That would be a welcome improvement, but I was forced to use 120V, and my charging times were eight hours and up. If I stuck to city driving, however, I would have electricity remaining in the “tank”, and charging overnight was no problem.

For any issue I can come up with, I can think of many more pluses for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. This car represents a major leap forward for General Motors, and I found myself constantly amazed at what appears to be a relatively basic four-door machine from the outside. This is the car that I want my wife to drive, my mother to drive, and my father to drive. Yes, I want to roar past them in a 1969 Dodge Charger with a 440 under the hood, classic Metallica on the radio, and gallons of fuel being burned by the minute. Regardless, this is the car that others should be driving.

As General Motors expands its use of the Voltec powertrain, the box in which I would recommend vehicles like the Volt will expand. Next up is a Cadillac version, which adds serious style and luxury into the equation, and after that could be a crossover, which would appeal to families.

The Volt is the future, today.

As enthusiasts, we shouldn’t be afraid of that. I don’t want to see big block muscle cars and exotic hyper cars disappear, but having non-enthusiasts drive vehicles like the Volt will insure that there’s still some fuel around for the rest of us.

  • Robby DeGraff

    "I was awash in colors that emanated from the both the seven-inch screen at the top of the center stack and the information display taking part in Occupy Dashboard." ………….epic!

  • MrHowser

    Has no one from GM ever owned a piece of small gas engine equipment? Having worked in a mower shop, I can tell you it only takes gas a few months to morph from a nice, easy-flowing liquid to a substance with the consistency of Real Maple Syrup and an odor that will singe nose hairs.

    I assume they figure that most people will use gas often enough that it's not a concern, but Jeff claims he could drive around town every day without using gas. If Joe Citizen has a 10 mile commute, and takes the wife's hauler on trips with the whole family, the gas in his tank will get funky long before he needs to fill up.

    • The chief engineer had this to say:

      "I’m not so worried about that. Most people are going to use up some fuel at some rate, probably faster than six months. Fuel is certainly going to be good for six months without concern. Most people are going to take one or two long trips in six months. We’re not designing this vehicle as a pure EV for a reason. Most people realistically while they’re going to get their 40 miles and there’s going to be five days a week when they may never use any gas at all, there’s a strong likelihood that they are going to use enough gas that this isn’t going to be a significant problem for most people."

      Edit: added more info here:

      Instead of the plastic tanks found in other vehicles, the Volt’s fuel tank is made from tin-zinc-coated steel that resists corrosion from both inside and outside, backed by a mechanical pressure-relief valve that can act as a fail-safe in the unlikely occasion it’s needed.

      Of course, even then it’s still important for the Volt’s operation that the gasoline is used up occasionally and replenished. Thus, the Volt also features a “maintenance mode” that comes into play if its engine hasn’t been started in six weeks. First, the system will alert the driver that the engine needs to run for maintenance purposes, including to make sure its components are properly lubricated. Then, the driver can either enable the engine to run or defer maintenance for up to 24 hours, after which the engine will turn on itself. In addition, if a driver goes a full year without filling up, the system will come on until the engine uses all the old gas or the driver adds fresh fuel.

      • MrHowser

        Glad to see someone was thinking about it. I'm sure that the inside of the Volt's tank is a better environment for fuel life than a mower tank or plastic jerry-can, but I've been the guy who left new fuel in the tank in November, and had varnish in February, which wouldn't be an unreasonable time frame between fill-ups if you drove city-only. I like that maintenance-mode feature, though.

        • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

          I'm with you.

          I've had "fresh" gasoline go funky in garage-kept vehicles within three months.

          At the same time, using Sta-bil, I've had a couple of cars in storage for years, running a tank through annually, for fresh fuel.

          Never knew when I was going to pull them out of storage, so it was better than putting them in dry dock.

          • There's something to be said for the Volt's gas getting stirred up by driving around, though. Part of the whole funky varnish problem is that it partially distills off the surface, leaving a film. If the fuel's regularly stirred and at least partially heat cycled, you don't have that problem.

            • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

              Hadn't thought about that aspect.

              Thanks. I'll make certain to at least drive the in-storage Sta-Bil'd vehicle every few months to de-funk the fuel.

    • Maymar

      If I'm not mistaken, the gas engine is designed to kick in sporadically if it goes unused, just to ensure the gas gets used or stirred up a bit.

  • Maymar

    I appreciate the Volt for what it is, but I like the Nissan Leaf more. The Chevrolet is very serious, and ruthlessly efficient, but it doesn't have the same personality the Leaf does (which probably makes it the bad guy in 90% of sports movies). I'll also be interested to see how Toyota's plug-in Prius compares once it's on the road.

    • Yes, the plug-in Prius will represent a challenger for the Volt, absolutely!

      As far as Leaf vs Volt goes, I think it's almost two different buyers for the cars – and they don't stack up evenly, despite being pitted head-to-head by everyone.

      I am curious to learn more about the Leaf though…

      • pj134

        Yeah people who commute 60 miles a day and have a heavy foot, not unlike myself, will probably avoid a car that is rated for 73 miles.

      • Maymar

        I suspect the people who bought gen-1 Priuses will be buying the Leaf, while people who bought the gen-2 Prius (2004ish) will buy the Volt. Oh, and half of Washington will be driving Volts soon enough, I imagine.

    • I drove the Prius Plug in for a week last year: http://hooniverse.com/2011/02/24/prius-plug-in/

      Not a fan, personally. Super-lame to drive (doesn't feel like a car), no "wow factor" from the tech. The charging cord itself is poorly designed (giant power brick ~12" off the plug in such a way that it'll dangle by the cord). Unimpressive all-electric range and total capacity. Too expensive for what it is.

  • pj134

    But we will grow to hate them. As it always happens. The people driving them will do 25 in a 45 in a non passing zone like the prius did yesterday and the people who don't really worry about fuel economy and instead like to get places in a timely fashion will want to rip out their anuses.

    Oddly enough, I had someone in a Miata do that to me today… He had a luggage rack though, which makes him inherently different, so I haven't turned on all Miata drivers yet.

    Maybe I should take a different road.

    • That's not the car's fault though… and if we educate the right people on cars (as we should, as enthusiasts) we can help change that.

      maybe…

      • I am adamantly opposed to any suggestion that people should be "educated" away from luggage racks! A luggage rack on a Miata is almost as respectable as a trailer hitch.

        • pj134

          It was chrome and almost as tall as the top of his car. Nothing respectable about that.

      • pj134

        Nope.

        It's the "I'm saving money by driving like an asshole" mentality that is impossible to break. Cheap people are cheap and if they think they're getting a "bargain" by driving their overpriced Corolla 25 mph at all times, then they are going to continue to do it.

        • Maymar

          Every now and then I'll feel a little sad that I'm only getting 33-34mpg and try and slow down a bit to save money. And then I remember how much I can't stand being around other slow moving drivers (since I can't use my cruise control) and start driving aggressively all over again. I might be doing it wrong.

          • pj134

            I drive about 60 miles a day mostly city. I find it hard to get the low end of the EPA estimate for my car. Steady, five to ten over for long stretches when I can and I'll get 23-24. My natural inclination is to mash the pedal, that gets me 18.

            I need a car that gets better fuel economy or wastes it in a more enjoyable manner.

            • Maymar

              I at least benefit from more highway driving. There's just no way a basic Civic's that entertaining when mashing the pedal (shift quality's decent though). It's better around corners, but those are roughly as uncommon in my area as a Mazda RePu pulling a trailer full of unicorns.

              • pj134

                It's not entertaining, just necessary to get to speed in a manner I like. Luckily I have the curvy old roads of the northeast to drive. Not even our highways are straight for the most part. Although, Philly was the first modern grid city.

            • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

              We have the identical commute, it sounds like.

              If I'm very gentle, 22 MPG. Loud pedal a couple of times…19-20.

              Meh. It's worth it to hear the Northstar every now and then.

              • pj134

                That's my problem. I only get to hear a last gen Hyundai 4 cylinder. Maybe I'll fix both problems with a veloster turbo or that scion/Subaru thingy. Depends on if I want a rwd for snow commutes though. I mean, snow tires fix it enough but we've been getting lit up these past couple years.

        • Seriously…how many of these people are there out there?

          I pass slow people all the time, but when I blast by and check, they mostly look like the bad stereotypes I (ashamedly) expect them to be.

          For all of my driving years I've lived in eco-central coastal California and can maybe count on one hand the number of clearly "going slow to save the earth" characters I've seen. Easy enough to get around, usually.

          Of the driver archetypes I've found myself bitching about in real life, they're a fraction of a percent.

          • pj134

            I live in an area with a[redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted]of [redacted][redacted].[redacted][redacted][redacted].[redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted].[redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted][redacted]. That's all.(it's better this way)

  • Alff

    Just glad you're still alive, Jeff, and haven't been reduced to a crispy critter as the result of spontaneous combustion.

  • humblejanitor

    I normally would NEVER consider a General Motors product but I find myself liking the Volt the more I hear about it. I walked past a dealership once and saw a nice red Volt demo. However, how could one ignore the recent hoopla over Volt fires?

    • dukeisduke

      I hope this whole "fire" thing dies down. The media glosses over the facts, simply noting "Chevy Volt fires". The NHTSA crash test car went up three weeks after its crash, and NHTSA hadn't disabled the battery system after the crash, as GM recommends. As for the two garage fires, neither has been blamed on the Volt itself.

  • So… it's electric?

  • I have to admit, Chevy's recent ad campaign for the Volt really worked on me. When the Volt first came out, I really didn't think it was all that great of an idea. It's not all electric like the Leaf, but it has limitations that standard hybrids (Prius, etc) don't, or at least so I thought. But the recent ads have changed the way it's presented — it's all electric most of the time, so you use no gas for normal commuting, but you have the gas engine so you're not mileage limited. So you can drive further than the Leaf when you need to, but you for normal commuting, you can get away with using NO gas, unlike the Prius. Best of both worlds. I don't know why it took these ads for me to realize this, but kudos, GM.

    Having said that, I really like how you summed it up – it's a car that everyone else should drive, so we can drive the fun stuff. At first it sounds selfish or irresponsible, but we already know how many people buy plain Camrys, Civics, etc, so obviously they're fine with a vanilla driving experience. Put those people in a Volt and leave the loud, smelly, uncivilized cars for the rest of us! Unfortunately, I don't think the "others" who would buy this car would agree with this sentiment, although I have to wonder if Volt owners are as smug as Prius owners.

  • Anyone who gets the homage in the opening paragraph wins serious super fun time brownie points…

  • tonyola

    A discussion of the proper pressure point to "please a nubbin"? Did I stumble into Penthouse letters or something?

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    Nice Quantum Leap reference.

    My only nit to pick is the fact that if you'd stayed in-town, you'd have used zero fuel. On the contrary, you'd have used fuel, just no gasoline.

    I saw one of these a few weeks back and was quite surprised by the size of it. Still, if it does commuter duty well for even a small percentage of the driving population, that leaves more dead-dinos for me to burn in my V8.

    I'm all for that!

    As a bonus, I see Volt owners have a large extension cord coiled under the hood! Bitchin'!

    /sarcasm

    • That is a good point.

    • Maymar

      Can I get all pedantic and point out that there are parts of North America which get significant amounts of power from hydroelectricity or wind generation? Plus, with more and more homes bearing solar panels, it's plausible that there'd really be no fuel used.

      • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        Why absolutely!

        I welcome pedantic in certain circles, intelligent ones. We have a pretty sharp circle, here.

        Heh, heh….

        While there may not be any fossil fuel supply being used, all energy is fuel of some sort.

        I understand your very good point, however.

        Tell you what, I wish it hadn't been raining when, last week, out by Roscoe, TX, I saw a pump-jack (the oil well device people think of, typically) with a giant electric-generating windmill behind it. It would have been photographic bliss.

        Old/new. Limited/essentially unlimited. Dirty/clean. If it weren't so far, and a boring ass trip, I'd go back out there.

      • tiberiusẅisë
        • Maymar

          Hah! Touche!

  • Jim-Bob

    I drive 30,000 city miles a year for work and the idea of the Volt intrigues me. Not as my only car mind you, but as a vehicle to drive for work while keeping my fun stuff for my days off. However, I do have to question the bottom line. How much electricity does it consume per mile and how does that compare to the cost of fuel to drive the same amount of miles in something else highly fuel efficient like a Prius, Insight 1 or 3 cylinder/5speed Geo Metro? From what I have seen elsewhere it takes about $2 worth of electricity to charge the batteries to go 35 miles and that just doesn't seem like it is much cheaper than some other highly fuel efficient options. Crunching some numbers, the electric range of the Volt would seem to cost $0.057 per mile versus the 51 mpg city Prius which is $0.063 per mile at the current local fuel price of $3.20 per gallon. It seems it would take a long time to recoup the cost difference, especially if you drive little enough that a 35 mile daily range is sufficient.

    • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

      Don't forget, the price of electricity can be just as volatile as gasoline prices.

      Making things worse, unless you're watching it, it's an "invisible" cost increase. I halved my $'s per/kwh, recently, and I can't believe I wasn't watching it more closely, in retrospect.

    • I'd be surprised if the Volt wins any contest on hard fiscal numbers alone. It's a first-gen early adopter product, which pretty much guarantees it hasn't had all the value wrung from it.

      It's especially not going to win if you run it up against a used Prius, Insight or Metro. It takes a lot of energy savings to make up 10-20k difference in purchase price.

  • Feds_II

    This car is Lindsay Lohan at a Mensa meeting quiet.

    So it sounds like someone having sex in a broom closet?

    • pj134

      So it sounds like someone having sex with a broom?

      Fixed it, she wouldn't slum to having sex with "smart people".

  • dukeisduke

    I like the Volt, I'm just peeved that I'm helping pay for them through the tax credits. I think I should be able to take someone's Volt for a spin, since I own a little of it.

  • Scandinavian Flick

    "Regardless, this is the car that others should be driving."

    When I see statements like this and the final paragraph, I know I am reading the right reviews for my interests. I know it is important to make progress in weaning ourselves off a non-renewable resource. I know we have to support new technology that makes this possible. However, I can't afford to be one of the early adopters, and I want to drive fun cars as long as I have the means to do so. So thank you, other people, for making it possible for me to continue doing just that!

  • FЯeeMan

    Incredibly well written review, rhetoric free, and laced with enough references to keep us scrambling for books and movies for quite a while!

    It also, quite honestly, has me thinking that a used one might be worth a look a few years down the road.

    Also, I marvel at the mass of ignition wires necessary for that tiny little engine. Most impressive!

  • Number_Six

    The important question here is, what adjective are we going to use to describe Volt drivers? We must not use the tired old "smug" on this group.

    • pj134

      "Whizzy Douchenozzles"

      • CJinSD

        Subsidized Dolts

  • JayP2112

    Early on the Volt was described as the iPhone of cars.
    Now that I have an iPhone, I get it. Make it simple enough for anyone to use, but leave it technical enough for the nerds who want to play with it.

    Nice review.

  • CJinSD

    I wouldn't bring up Mensa just yet. Seems to me that you saved about 7 gallons of gas compared to a sensible sedan of similar capabilities. Call it $28 of gas, or $1,456 over the course of a year. Buying this car saves someone less than $1,500 a year at the cost of having over paid by $20,000. Nobody who can do arithmetic fits in that box. As for the tax subsidy, someone will have to pay for that. Wasting the money on this stupid car is a net negative, which is why one shouldn't pervert the market.

    • I forced the car to use that fuel by opting to drive it out to visit a friend… I didn't need to take it. Had I been driving the car as per my normal weekly routine, I would've used zero fuel.

      Zero.

      How does that affect your calculations?

      • Deartháir

        Well, here are some calculations of my own for this car, and a big portion of the reason I don't like it or its marketing:

        That electricity you put into your car does not come from some magical hole in the wall that supplies an endless source of free energy. There is an environmental impact, and it comes from some sort of consumption. Here in Alberta, that's primarily oil or coal-fired power plants. And you, on your power bill, have to pay for that extra electricity. Anyone who bought one of the first-generation plasma TV's can tell you how quickly a single large regular-use high-draw electrical item can impact the monthly cost of your electrical bill. I'm a bit shocked I haven't seen anyone do a comparison on that part.

        But I see that your own EPA, and the Canadian equivalent, has done something like that, and assigned an equivalency to this car for all-electric running. Their equivalency is 2.5L/100km, so I'm going to use that for my calculations. I'm using the Jetta, because it's a car I'm familiar with, and sits in a comparable class, but this calculation would work with the Ford ecoBoost cars, the new eco-friendly Mazdas, whatever. Based on the build-and-price on each of our websites, the difference (when pricing the same way) between a loaded Jetta TDI DSG (manual option would make the car cheaper, but I'll be fair) and a loaded Volt is $16,440. I'm going on a fair average local price of $1.25/L for diesel or premium fuel (required for the Volt), which have been around the same price in the last year. $16,440 difference would buy 13,152 L of fuel.

        That difference will require you to drive 526,000 km on electric-only operation just to break even.

        • We keep all our smoke-belching fossil fuel gulping power stations in the North Midlands. They're still enjoying the Industrial Revolution of the Victorian era up there, so the thick, acrid, carcinogenic smoke goes unnoticed.

        • "That electricity you put into your car does not come from some magical hole in the wall that supplies an endless source of free energy."

          It does if you charge it in the campus parking garage next to my office.

        • Van_Sarockin

          Those 'mild hybrids' don't count – they made hardly any contribution to forward propulsion.

          • pj134

            Hell, if they're going to put a sticker eight inches high on the rear windshield that says "Hybrid", I don't care how ineffective it is, it's a hybrid. If they screwed it up its their own engineering and marketing that is to blame, but it is still a hybrid if they are selling it as such.

      • CJinSD

        The cost of electricity would effect my calculations. The cost of you needing a second vehicle to avoid making the Volt do things it does poorly would effect my calculations too.

    • Ol' Shel'

      Factor in the cost of waging oil wars, while you're at it. Those are cheap.

      • CJinSD

        Do you mean the one our current regime is waging against domestic production?

    • Currently no hybrid wins a dollars-to-dollars comparison with a cheap, efficient car.

      As Jeff pointed out, a lot of people could do a lot of their commuting on all-electric, which is significant. Charging those batteries isn't free, but it's still cheaper than filling the tank. I suspect a number of employers might have no problem letting an employee charge one at work, especially if it's a facility that already uses so much power that the increase would be negligible.

      Even with "half-free" electricity, you'd have a hard time beating back from the initial purchase price, subsidized or not. The Volt's a first-gen product aimed at early adopters, not number-crunching fleet buyers.

      • Deartháir

        And that's exactly why I'm frustrated by this car. It's an electric car, that's drastically overpriced, with a 35-mile range.

        Automotive journalists are falling all over themselves to say how awesome each successive hybrid, or electric, or environmentally-conscious car is. But each of them is just a car. It's a car with some extra stuff in it, sure, but it's an expensive car. So really, with each of these cars, reviewers are not actually reviewing the car, they're reviewing what the car represents. What the car will lead to. What the car will eventually become. Sure, the thing is nothing special now, but someday its prince will come, and it will break out of its shell and become a beautiful frog! Or something.

        This car is a thought experiment. Nothing more.

  • Van_Sarockin

    So, Chevy did a lot better with its first real hybrid than Toyota did. That's great. Too bad they're a decade late to the party.

    • In a way you're wrong, but in a lot of ways (particularly to the fuel-friendly population) you're right.

    • pj134

      Chevy did not do better with its first hybrid. I seem to recall the Hybrid systems in the Malibu, Tahoe and Silverado having an interesting issue where they would fail but no one would know until the batteries ate through the rear upholstery. Not that I'm trying to give Toyota credit, just a reminder that GM flopped on their first hybrid assist.

  • "…It looks as if a Cruze was sent back to our time from the not-too-distant future."

    It does, but that "our time" was 1988 and that "future" was 1990. Seriously, I can dig it, but it really feels like being at the GM World Of Motion at EPCOT all over again.

    • Schmottguy

      Thank you, you finally helped me place the design style in my head! It's very late-eighties early-nineties futuristic, all smooth shapes and soft edges like Star Trek: The Next Generation.

      • Precisely. Think Shuttlecraft. Mr Picard made it so.

  • topdeadcentre

    Can the Cars of the Future please include side windows large enough to see out of decently? Thank you.

    • SSurfer321

      cars from the future will no longer have windows. Just video screens showing what the exterior cameras are seeing.

  • SSurfer321

    Jeff this is a fantastic review of the car!

    Reviews like this are why I come here.

  • Roger Dominguez

    The only thing slowing the Volt down is that charge time and barely average mileage. If Chevrolet fixes those two issues, I'd expect more people buying from the long island chevy dealers.





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