DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: What I've always appreciated about the Chevy Volt is that beneath the entire complex range-extended EV powertrain technology, there's a fundamentally good small car. It's a comfortable, solid-feeling compact with great road manners and none of the flimsy fragility found in cars like the Prius and iMiev.
I drove the Volt home with a full charge on a Friday afternoon and tooled around all weekend without plugging it in, purposefully running it down so I could experience the car with and without the gasoline engine contributing. The juice lasted until midday Sunday -- a total of about 38 miles of electric driving -- and I barely noticed when the range extender kicked in; it's very well isolated.
Thanks to its relatively quick charge time, lack of any range anxiety, and just general, overall pleasantness, the Volt remains one of my top picks for green-leaning friends, especially if GM begins to offer some deep discounts on remaining first-gen Volts. It'll be interesting to see how the next model fares.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: Yup, this is probably the best plug-in hybrid on the market. The look doesn’t do much for me; I think the second generation looks way better, but for all of your green needs, this is the car.
I only drove it home and back overnight, but that was enough time to remind me of how good this car is. Pickup is quick with the electric power, and I didn’t even have any problems passing on the expressway at 75-80 mph. I didn’t run the battery down too much, in fact it was more than enough to get me home and back without charging. It had 38 miles of range when I got in, about 23 when I got out, which matches my commute perfectly. It may have lost a mile or two overnight, but I plugged it in this morning at our work charger.
It’s so quiet, too. You really have to roll the windows up and turn the radio down to appreciate it. It’s very calming. The interior materials are nice, better than many other GM cars, and gaps seem tight all around. Air conditioning works well, but someone had the damn seat heaters on yesterday -- it was 87 degrees out, and I almost burst into flames. The radio takes a little getting used to, but by the morning I had it.
Steering is direct with a good amount of weight behind it. I swear if it wasn’t so heavy it would be very fun to drive. It’s still OK; I just wouldn’t take it out for a pleasure cruise. Bumps are absorbed by the suspension and cabin, barely registering on your rear end. You’ll just hear a muted “thud thud” as you cross railroad tracks.
This Volt could be a family’s only car. It has no range anxiety, gets almost 40 mpg when it’s using the engine, and has plenty of space for cargo. One of my journo friends actually bought one after testing it for his site, that’s how good it is.
Like Andy, I can’t wait to try the new one. And if GM can get that price down, whoa boy, these will be flying off the proverbial shelves.
Options: Premium trim package including driver and front passenger heated seats, rear center with rear seat pass thru armrest, cupholders, leather appointed seat trim ($1,395); Navigation and BOSE premium audio package including audio system with navigation, AM/FM CD player with 7-inch color touchscreen, XM navigation traffic, BOSE premium speaker system ($995); Polished aluminum wheels ($595); Enhanced safety package #1 including inside rearview mirror, auto dimming, rear vision camera, rear park assist ($575); All weather front and rear floor mats ($110); Cargo net ($60)
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