Maybe this will be the year Chevy’s environmental wonder-wagon will take off. The Nissan Leaf may be the first widely sold all-electric car, but Volt could be the most efficient car right now that nobody’s buying. Although North America’s 2011 Car of the Year and Green Car of the World comes with some hefty accolades, and GM seems to have a nice blueprint for so-called plug-in hybrid technology, a few negatives- including an NHTSA investigation on Volt’s battery (read more here) have caused Chevy to wobble on a production goal of 60,000 Volts for 2012 (45,000 domestic and 15,000 exports).
Other than that, everything looks great. Really, the Volt is well reviewed, and given the initial kinks are ironed out, Chevy still has a remarkably fuel efficient vehicle here. Here’s a look at what Volt has to offer.
Chevy Volt Trims and Stats
The 2012 Volt comes in just one trim. Starting at $31,645 when coupled with a $7,500 tax incentive, Volt’s price has been reduced, which is nice. It’s going to be interesting to gauge the effects of internal debate: whether to go for the exciting all-electric LEAF or new plug-in Prius, or the potential-filled Volt.
Standard features include 17” alloy wheels, climate control, keyless entry, Bluetooth, OnStar, remote start, and cloth interior. Heated, leather seats are available, as is a rearview camera and parking sensors. Also on the extras list is the navigation system, after coming standard for 2011 models. Music enthusiasts can get also excited about 30 GB of audio storage.
Chevy Volt Performance
Volt differs from the Nissan LEAF in that it does possess a front wheel drive 1.4L 4 cylinder 83 horsepower gasoline engine (premium gas only), along with an electric motor good for up to 149 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. The battery predominately runs Volt until 70% depleted, then the gasoline engine takes over. Together, the dual sources provide a range of around 375 miles, according to Chevy, with 340 miles provided by gasoline power and 35 electric (that’s gas free) miles.
Right away you can see the advantage Volt has over Leaf. Long distance commutes are no problem thanks to the backup gasoline engine, so plan your road trips accordingly.
Recharging takes place much the same as Leaf. Use either a 120 or 240 volt outlet to recharge each night (or whenever, really) while regenerative braking recaptures some battery power. According to Chevy, a standard 120 volt outlet will take around 10 hours to fully recharge things; 4 hours with a 220 volt charging station.
Chevy Volt Fuel Economy
Chevy says that the 2012 Volt can achieve the equivalent of 95 city and 93 highway MPG with electric power, and 35/40 with old fashioned gasoline. Real world tests have recorded MPG in the low 30’s when reliant on gasoline, and don’t forget that Volt requires premium fuel. In the end, it all depends on what kind of driving you’re going to be doing day after day.
Volt Interior Highlights
Volt classifies itself as a mid-sized hatchback, with seating for 4. Very much resembling an alternative fuel vehicle externally, drivers say it’s more cramped inside, especially for those sitting in either of the backseats- and there are just two backseats due to Volt’s battery. Cargo room is adequate enough at 10.6 cubic feet, although the rear seats fold down to accommodate a bit more of the extras.
Chevy Volt Safety
Safety is a strongpoint. Volt standards include 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability/traction control, and 8 airbags. 2012 Volt impresses with a 5/5 overall rating for government crash tests- one of only a handful of vehicles to do so.
Chevy Volt’s Bottom Line
It’s still relatively early in the electric auto game, and new technology is going to be a bit pricey. Ultimately, the consumer is smart enough (hopefully) to decide whether or not it’s worth it to become a frontrunner in the green game. Volt certainly isn’t going to draw any heckling if indeed it becomes the choice of the concerned consumer. Check one out now.