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We drive the Chevrolet Volt

by Ali Arsham
Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Chevy Volt just got a big price reduction
When was the last time that something that was hip and cool was offered for less money.  Usually you have to buy last year’s fashion at a discount.  Well the nice people at Chevrolet have just dropped the price on the Chevrolet Volt by $5000 for 2014. 

The 2014 model will start at $34,995, including an $810 destination fee (excluding tax, title, license and dealer fees). If consumers include federal tax credits ranging from $0-$7,500 (depending on individual tax liability), pricing could start at $27,495.  Chevrolet says that the price reduction is from gaining experience with electric vehicles and their components.

The Chevrolet Volt is a terrific vehicle for someone looking for a fuel efficient and reduced emissions car.  It is a five-door, four-passenger car designed to provide the fuel-saving and emissions-reducing benefits of an electric vehicle without the range limitations associated with all-electric vehicles.

The heart of the Chevrolet Volt is its Voltec propulsion system, which combines pure electric drive and an efficient, range-extending engine, giving the Volt up to 382 total miles of range.  The Volt’s long-life battery consists of a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.  It supplies energy to an advanced, 149-hp electric drive unit to propel the vehicle.  Using only the energy stored in the battery, the Volt delivers an estimated 38 miles of fuel- and tailpipe emissions-free electric driving, depending on your driving.  Many other cars such as the Nissan Leaf can offer better numbers but the best part of the Volt is that you are not stuck when the battery is depleted.  When the battery energy is depleted, the Volt seamlessly transitions to extended-range mode.  Power is inverted from a 1.4L 84-hp gasoline-powered onboard engine to the electric drive unit to provide up to 344 additional miles of range.

Charging the Volt’s battery is simple and can be done with a 120V conventional household electrical outlet or a dedicated 240V charging station. A full charge will take four hours using a 240V outlet and 10 to 16 hours in a 120V outlet.

Chevy Volt interior is nicely appointed
The Volt interior is very nicely appointed and is not like an economy car nor is it like a luxury car.  There are lots of standard features such as MyLink with Bluetooth for streaming music and voice recognition for phone, music and radio, seven inch touch screen display and automatic climate control. Our Volt had the optional navigation system, heated front seats and leather seats and steering wheel. 

Center Stack
The center stack is filled with buttons that are touch sensitive.  They seem to be placed haphazardly and it really makes you wonder why manufacturers continue to try to reinvent the knob.  Anytime that you need to make an adjustment to the climate control system or the navigation system or the audio system you have to take your eyes off the road for a few seconds to try to figure out which button you need to press.  But because they are not real buttons, sometimes pressing it once does not do the trick.  If you live with the car long enough you will probably get more used to it but it can be infuriating.

Once you have moved on and decided that you really do not need to figure out how to turn the AC on and it is much easier to just open the window, the Volt can be a good car to drive.  It has very good power from a standstill and drives very smoothly.  Considering how much work engineers have done to make the Volt as aerodynamic as possible, it is a little surprising that there is a decent amount of wind and road noise in the cabin at freeway speeds.  The Volt is not a driver’s car and will never be confused with a sports car.  The tires are designed for fuel efficiency and do not grip well in the dry and are even worse in the wet.  The steering wheel is devoid of any feel and the only time you will know if you are understeering or oversteering is when you hit the guard rail.  But the Volt is not designed to be a sports car.  It is designed to be a commuter car and for that it is probably one of the best in the world.  It is efficient, comfortable and roomy. Even without plugging the car in and just using the gasoline engine, we were averaging about 37 mpg which is really something because the Volt is pretty heavy at 3800 pounds.

With its new lower price and terrific efficiency, the Volt is a great commuter car.  Unlike many of the other electric cars, it offers the extended range so that it can be used not just for commuting but as a normal car.  You can drive it on a cross country trip with no issues and that is a great accomplishment for around $30,000.

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