2017 Chevy Volt

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Only Nixon could go to China, they said.'17 Volt lead

Maybe they will say the same about me – and my (ducking now) endorsement of the Chevy Volt… .

Ok. I just popped my head up from behind the dumpster, having dodged the rocks and rotten apples thrown my way by probably disappointed readers. But give me a minute? If you still think I’ve drunk the Kool Aid after I say my peace, then fire away.

I promise not to duck.

WHAT IT IS

The Volt is –  technically – a plug-in hybrid.'17 Volt tablet

But it’s different from any other hybrid currently available.

Or any electric car, for that matter.

It blends the best of both – and leaves the bad parts out.

First, it can (and will) go more than 50 miles on just its batteries, with no input at all from the gas engine it carries on board. Other plug-ins like the Ford C-Max and Toyota Prius (and the BMW 330 eDrive I reviewed last week) go maybe 20 miles or so before the battery wilts and the gas engine has to step in to keep you moving. They are fundamentally dependent on internal combustion for locomotion, with the electric side there for short hops – and to boost the power/performance of the gas engine when extra acceleration is needed.   

With the Volt, it’s the opposite. It’s the electric side of the powertrain that’s dominant.

Second, the Volt’s onboard gas engine is there chiefly to serve as a carry-it-with-you generator that makes electricity when needed. It’s the battery and the electric motor that propels the car.

What you’re looking at, then, is basically a practical electric car. One you can actually drive pretty much anywhere – without having to stop along the way for hours to recharge.'17 Volt rear view

One that also isn’t priced so high that whatever you end up saving on fuel is irrelevant (as in the case of the Tesla).

Base price for a Volt LT is $33,220.

This is about what Toyota was asking for the plug-in version of the Prius hybrid – which only traveled about 13 miles on its batteries before the relief pitcher IC engine stepped in. An updated (2017) version of the plug-in Prius is scheduled to debut later this year – but it would have to triple its electric-only range to match that of the Volt.'17 Volt speedo detail

Same goes for the plug-in version of Ford’s C-Max wagon – which lists for $31,770 to start. It has a best-case range on the batteries of about 19 miles – less than half the distance the Chevy can travel.

A loaded Premier trim with heated rear seats, navigation, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking system and wireless cell phone charger lists for $37,570.

About what you’d pay for a comparably equipped entry-luxury car like a Toyota Avalon or Lexus ES350.

WHAT’S NEW

Chevy leaked a few of these last year but this year is the first year the second-generation Volt is generally available.

The range on the batteries is now nearly twice what it was before – putting a huge gulf between it and other plug-ins as a truly everyday drivable (on just the batteries) car. Also, the gas engine has been tweaked to sip regular rather than premium fuel (an oddity of the original model) and the mileage – if you run the gas engine – is now 42 MPG on average, a 5 MPG uptick over the original.

The exterior has also been restyled – nicely so.

WHAT’S GOOD'17 Volt to work

It’s not economically stupid.

Or functionally idiotic.

Very feasible to go to work – and back – without burning any gas at all.

Go on a long highway trip, too – without stopping every couple of hours for several hours.

Practical hatchback layout.

Price seems almost too good to be true.   

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD'17 Volt rear seat

Impractical four seater configuration (GM says “five”… but have a look and you tell me.)

You do still have to wait about 8 hours (when using standard 120V household current) for the batteries to recover full charge once they’re depleted.

Cost of electricity could go up (and cost of gas has gone down).

Price is likely heavily discounted by GM to get people interested.

This is understandable given the unfavorable so far economics and practicality of plug-in hybrids (and electric cars). And it’s not a problem for people buying a Volt today. But if these cars can only be “sold” at a loss to get sold at all, then they’ll never be built in large numbers. They’ll be electrified versions of cars like the Corvette: In the lineup for the sake of PR, to enhance GM’s “green cred” but mostly to draw in buyers of non-hybrid cars that actually make GM money.

UNDER THE HOOD'17 Volt engine

It’s interesting to note that – like ships passing in the night – the Volt’s gas engine is actually bigger than the engines being used in a growing number of non-hybrid cars. It’s 1.5 liters – smallish by the standards of say five years ago, but fairly big by the standard today.

But it works because it hardly does.

The 1.5 liter four is there primarily to idle (and fast idle) in order to gin up electricity which is fed to the lithium-ion battery pack or directly to the high-performance electric motors that move the car.

When the gas engine is running at all, that is.

Most of the time, it’s not.

Which is what makes the Volt unique among plug-ins.'17 Volt charging

Assuming a full charge – which takes about 12 hours using a standard household outlet or about 4.5 hours using a fast charger – the Volt is good to go for upwards of 50 miles (some testers have gone 60 or more) without needing internal combustion intervention.

That’s at normal driving speeds and includes pedal-to-the-floor Clover passing efforts, too (more on this below).

If you drive far enough to use up the stored charge, the 1.5 liter four automatically chugs to life and serves as your personal onboard generator.

You never run out of juice unless you run out of gas. No “range anxiety.”

You can continue driving – without pit stopping (except for gas) for as long as you like.

When running on just the batteries, your fuel usage is effectively nil.

When running the gas engine (depleted battery) EPA says you’ll average 42 MPG.'17 Volt plug

I was able to drive from my refuge out in The Woods down the mountain, into the city and back – a round trip of more than 50 miles – almost entirely on a full charge, without the gas engine kicking in until I was literally less than two miles from home.

I then drove the car on purpose with the battery pack depleted  to find out what the mileage would be on a longer road trip, without being able to stop overnight (or for several hours) to recharge.

The computer in the car said 41.3 MPG.

Note that this is the average MPG. Not just the highway MPG.

It’s an excellent number.

Many current IC cars can manage 40-something MPG… on the highway. But their averages (which factor in city driving) are much lower.'17 Volt side view

During a weeklong test drive during which I ran entirely on the batteries (and a full charge) on some days and on others drove with the batteries depleted and the gas engine running, my average mileage was never less than 60 MPG and often close to 80 overall.

That’s better than any of my motorcycles.

Chevy (and EPA) says the Volt can deliver as much as 106 “MPGe” – the average of driving done using a combo of the batteries and the gas engine – but it is absolutely possible to get infinity MPG out of the thing given the car’s long leg capability on its batteries and a full charge.

If your daily Back and Forth commute is less than 50 miles, and you’re able to plug in overnight, you could plausibly go months without needing to refuel. Your biggest worry might be that the fuel in the tank goes stale.

Oh yeah; I almost forgot to mention. The Volt isn’t slow. Zero 60 in the low-mid sevens.

This is about what you’d get out of a non-hybrid mid-sized sedan with a four cylinder engine – and about three seconds quicker than a Prius. It’s also quicker than a Ford C-Max plug in (7.8 seconds) and that one (like the Prius) can only go about 20 miles before its battery pack conks out and you’re back on the gas.

ON THE ROAD'17 Volt road 1

I am not anti-electric car, despite what some may think.

Electric motors tug at my muscle car affections because they produce (or are capable of producing) immense swells of torque immediately – as in right now, at zero RPM. No waiting for a reciprocating assembly to build up a head of steam.

Immediate torque is why the Tesla is quicker than Ali in his prime.

That’s great.

The problem is that – unlike Ali in his prime – the Tesla (and other electric and hybrid cars) can’t go the distance.

The Tesla is very quick… very briefly.

   

Use its power and you’ll use up the juice.

What’s the point of that?

And then, you’re stuck.

Which sucks.

The Volt has staying power; it can go the distance. Any distance a regular car can go. And like a regular car, it can refuel in minutes (if need be) or (if you prefer) recharge in hours. With a Tesla, you don’t get the option.'17 Volt side 2

With other plug-ins, you do – but you’ll be burning gas more often, unless your trip is less than 20 miles There and Back.

I wanted to rip the Volt a new one – again.

I have done so in the past.

But the damn thing won me over, the longer I drove it.

How could I fail to be impressed by it when I was able to drive it nearly 60 miles without the batteries crapping out on me? This included some driving at Not Publishable Speeds, too. I did not “hypermile” the Volt. That’s for Geeks -and I am not a Geek.

I drove it like I drive any other press car I get.

Which is faster than most people drive.'17 Volt gauge deatil 3

But this did not faze the Chevy. Well, it didn’t slay the batteries. If I still lived in the Heart of Darkness – just outside DC – and were still commuting roughly 15 miles in and 15 miles out each day – it would be very doable to go gas-free for most of the week.

And the Volt’s mileage when running the gas engine is still better than most economy cars – while being quicker than most of them, too.

I dig it…. dammit!

Like the Prius, the Volt makes Jetsons-esque whirring and electrical/turbine-sounding noises (not loud, just different than you’d hear in an IC car) but it’s less Geeky than the Prius. It has, for instance, a normal car’s shifter lever for the single-speed transmission – as opposed to the Game Boy-style (and mechanically disconnected feeling) toggle in the Toyota.

Driving it is not much different than driving a non-hybrid car. You get in, you push the “ignition” button, ease the lever into Drive and off you go.

Actually, it’s more like driving an electric car – which is functionally what the Volt is.'17 Volt shifter

Most hybrids, for one thing, have a continuously variable (CVT) automatic, which doesn’t shift (because no gears) but does make a lot of noise. Th Volt has a direct-drive electric motor. And because the engine is usually off, it makes no engine noise at all.

Even when it is on, there is less noise, because it’s merely idling. Floor a Prius or a C-Max and hear the engine (and CVT) scream.

The steering (like other accessories) is also electrically powered. Some Gloved Ones among the automotive press bitch about “lack of feel” – and this is true, if you are basing that on BMW/Porsche standards of “feel.” But this is a family car, not a sports car – and what’s wanted is light/easy steering.

You’ve got it.'17 Volt tablet

The brakes (which are regenerative brakes that use the car’s kinetic energy to pump volts back into the batteries as you decelerate) feel a little different than a conventional IC car’s brakes, but you quickly get used to it – and  come to appreciate (if you live in a mountainous area, as I do) the helpful engine braking effect on the downhills.

A particular coolness is that the regenerative braking feature can be modulated by the driver, using the “Regen on Demand” paddle located on the steering wheel. Adjust to suit.

Like the steering, the Volt’s handling and ride are tuned for family car service. But it’s still “sportier” in terms of how hard you can push it before it starts to give you unhappy feedback – like tire squeal –  than a Prius. It also feels happier (and is quieter) at high speeds, probably because of its more effective aerodynamics. It sits just 56.4 inches off the ground, for one – vs. 58.1 inches for the Prius (and 63.8 inches for the Ford C-Max).     

AT THE CURB'17 Volt curb 1

In addition to being “in the weeds,” the Volt’s body (which is a not-unattractive body) has channels pressed into it to further smooth airflow as you drive, decreasing wind resistance and further quieting things down, even at Unmentionable Speeds.

It is also longer overall than the other plug-ins: 180.4 inches vs. a stubby 173 .6 for the Ford C-Max and 178.7 for the just-redesigned Prius. It is closer to being a mid-sized car than its two nominal rivals in terms of its overall footprint.'17 Volt trunk

Backseat legroom is good – 34.7 inches (vs. 33.4 for the Prius) though not quite as good (surprisingly, given the Ford’s abbreviate length) as the C-max’s (36.5 inches). Headroom is also tight in the Chevy, especially in the back seat  – just 35.8 inches vs. 39.4 for the Ford and 37.4 in the Toyota.

Still, there’s enough headroom in both rows for a pretty tall person (I’m 6ft 3) to sit in either without hunching over.

The Volt’s main deficit – an oddity, really – is that it’s a four seater. (It’s true the rear seat itself is now three across but have a look at the center console… the only way someone’s going to sit in the center position is with his legs tucked up against his chest, fetal style.)

You see this layout in fashionista four-door “coupes”  like the Mercedes CLA but the Volt is supposed to be a practical car. And in a way, the four seater layout is practical in that it’s not there because of styling considerations but rather functional ones. To keep the car “in the weeds” it was necessary to make room for the drivetrain components this way – or jack the car up, like the Prius and C-Max.'17 Volt rear 2

There’s not much trunk (just 10.6 cubic feet) but the hatchback layout and fold-down capability of the second row effectively double the usable cargo-carrying capacity. It’s still not as cargo-capable as the Prius (24.6 cubes, total) or the C-Max (42.8 cubic feet, total) but it’s more than most sedans and might be enough for your needs.

The gauge cluster is “dual fuel.”

To the left, a parenthesis-shaped bar graph indicating the state of battery charge in green, and an LCD bar graph that fluctuates from “charge” to “power” as you drive. There is a digital readout underneath that which tells you how much range you’ve got left.

On the other side of the cluster, there’s a similar parenthesis-shaped bar graph indicating how much gas you’ve got left. It’s blue backlit.'17 Volt gauges detail

You can call up a secondary display on the LCD tablet in the center stack that shows you the power feed in real time as you drive. There are secondary menus to hip you to fuel (and energy) usage in real time as well as over time. You can use this to keep track of your “eMPGs.”

Aside from its best-by-far range on electricity-only, another Volt sell is that it’s nicer than its putative plug-in competitors – without costing fistfuls of money more than these competitors.

The “base” LT trim comes with leather seats, automatic climate control, in-car WiFi, iPad-style eight-inch LCD tablet in the center stack (with AppleCarPlay and smartphone integration), 17-inch wheels, a very good six-speaker audio rig and all the major power options.

You can upgrade the audio a la carte (not as part of a package) to an eight-speaker Bose rig and there’s also a Comfort package that adds seat heaters and a heated steering wheel.'17 Volt sail fawn

The Premiere trim qualifies as entry luxury – very comparable in terms of what you get (such as heated rear seats and an automated parallel/perpendicular parking system, wireless cell phone charger, etc.) to something like a loaded Toyota Avalon or even a Lexus ES350.

The only bitch I’ll register is that the base LT’s cruise control is not adaptive. It’s optional, but first you have to buy the Premier and then buy both Driver Confidence packages, which bundle lots of stuff you may not want or need (such as addled-driver/idiot-proofing forward collision alert/automatic braking and lane keep assist) as well as a much higher price tag.      

THE REST

Having nearly doubled the Volt’s electric-only range and lowered its price, GM has done all that probably can be done to get people interested in this ride.'17 Volt curb 2

GM has a history of getting things right the second time around (see, for other examples, the Pontiac Fiero or the Cadillac Allante). The first-gem Volt was a fizzle. It cost too much (even when gas cost a lot) and it didn’t go far enough.

Both those issues have been solved.

But one may be only superficially solved.

I’ve personally driven the car extensively, so I know the touted electric-only range isn’t bullshit. It may be less in winter (when battery performance tends to wane) but unless it drops by half (not likely) the thing still gits ‘er done.

What I question is whether the touted price is long-term realistic. If GM is “selling” the Volt at a loss, it won’t be able to do so indefinitely. Certainly not on a mass-production level. The need to Be Green notwithstanding, a business needs to make green to stay in business.

This is the same issue, incidentally, with regard to the Jenga Castle that is Tesla Motors. Musk’s operation is a grotesque money loser – and he hasn’t got money-makers (real cars, that sell at a profit) to make up the shortfall.

GM does.'17 Volt rear last

But even so, the Volt and cars like it will never be more than very interesting demonstrations of what’s technologically possible  so long as they are economically questionable.

The good news in this case – for you, the potential buyer – is that it’s no skin off your nose if GM’s not making a cent off your purchase.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I’m still suspicious about the macro economics – whether GM (or anyone) can sell a car like this at a price point people will accept that still makes the car company a profit (without “help” from Uncle). But I can’t  argue with the Volt’s function.

It’s the only plug-in hybrid I’ve test driven (and I’ve driven them all) that I don’t feel the urge to douse with keyboard vitriol.

God help me.  

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46 COMMENTS

  1. From eric: “The story went on to quote various auto industry crack pipe smokers such as Britta Gross, a speaker at the recent Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition in Montreal. Gross is director of Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy at General Motors.”

    General Motors “solution” to the lack of EV and other sales: double-down on “diversity”. As long as the taxpayer has GM’s back, why not. I’m a former all-GM guy, who has kicked the habit, and would be slumming if seen in a GM product.

  2. Eric, you sir, are an honest man! Glad to see that you can do such an unbiased review! I too have liked what I’ve seen/heard about these cars. Of all the hybrids and electrics, I think the Volt truly has the best idea- and if there’s any sanity in the world, such a configuration will become the norm (Of course, there is no sanity in the world, so don’t hold your breath!).

    I mean, I’m not gonna run out and buy a Volt, because I won’t buy anything GM; I don’t want anything with all the new-fangled electronics/computer controls/touch screens; and I just don’t buy new cars (Not to mention, that even if I were tempted, I’d want to see how they fare over time, ya know, the batteries and all, and plus we all know that next year or the year after, they’ll improve them even more, and the current ones will likely become obsolete very quickly, and likely worth about $10 on the used market), but I am impressed by what I’ve seen of these so far, whereas I’ve been repulsed by all other electrics/hybrids.

    I like old vehicles, but I kinda see these as being rather cool (Speaking of cool, that’s another thing that remains to be seen: How they’ll do in winter.)

    • Thanks, Nunzio!

      All we have in this life, ultimately, is our name and our reputation. I may not always get it right, but I’ll never deliberately BS you.

      I, too, would like to give the Volt another whirl in winter. Not so much to see how it deals with snow. I won’t hold that against it, if it’s not exactly a sled dog (neither are most current FWD family cars). But I am curious about how the cold affects the performance of the battery pack.

      There are also still cost issues to deal with here.

      $34k is not out of reason (like the Tesla) but it’s also not exactly affordable given the typical/average family income. I’d like to see GM get the price down to around $25.

      Then it’s a whole new game!

  3. Hi Eric,

    I watched the two Volt review videos on youtube, and came here to read your expanded review. Nice job. One thing you might want to look into. Your statement “Chevy (and EPA) says the Volt can deliver as much as 106 “MPGe” – the average of driving done using a combo of the batteries and the gas engine – but….”

    That is wrong. 5 minutes reading on the internet will get you on the right track. Hint: the gas engine is not included in the MPGe computation.

    You’re welcome, and keep up the good work.

    Dave R.

      • eric, nice write up. I’d take one for $10 K less but it might be a bargain, new car-wise at it’s current price. If the IC would run on virtually anything, I’d be in line…….with the Bose system of course. I’ve had Bose, tv’s included, and it was always a treat.

        Never mind, I’m still looking for that right ’93 GM ext cab 8′ bed pickup with a turbo diesel and a New Venture Gear 4500 transmission and air lockers F&R.

        • Thanks, Eight!

          I can’t believe I like the damned thing. But I did.

          I do, however, suspect that the advertised price is massively subsidized.

          And what I’d really like to see is something functionally similar but less gaudy – less larded with luxury/technology amenities that, while certainly pleasant to have, jack up the price and thereby make it make less sense as an economic alternative to a current $17k-ish conventional (IC) car such as a Corolla or Civic.

          If they could make one of these for say $23k or so, it’d be a winner.

          • eric, stuff like in-car wifi is expensive, no other way to say it and depending on what you do with the wifi, damned expensive, as much as $300/month from certain providers. People get a new car with wifi and it has what….6 months free and then the SHTF.

            We get Sirius XM in Dodge trucks for free, for a year(well, it ain’t free) but no payments specifically to Sirius. Then when it runs out Sirius will turn it off and offer to turn it on for a payment of something like $130 or more per year. Gee, you’re addicted and now you have to play tune that dial for shit stations playing the same old rock you’ve(me anyway) for 50 frickin years…..seriously. Man, those same songs get worn out way before 50 years so you go with punk…..not, or country(not this new shit and almost no “old” country stations anywhere. Plenty of c rap, plain old black shit, Christian, Mexican rap……god save us all cried the Queen.

            Rock along for a month though and Sirius(seriously) will offer you their service for (tada, get this) $30, yep, just a fraction. They could offer it for $5 and get rich but they know the profits stay high at $30 with millions of vehicles out there paying $30-$130. Hmmmm, that’s lots dough. Apple car play? self parking? wireless cell phone charger(honey, I don’t feel like plugging my phone in, couldn’t we just have it charge without doing anything? Sure babe, whatever you want. I do like heated seats and wheels but that’s old hat now.

            And the first thing I’d do would be to disable On Star….definitely, no how, no way, want that shit. And as some misinformed dolt told me recently “Well, they can still track YOUR cell phone”. Yes, they sure can track SOMEBODY’S cell phone but I don’t have a cell phone in my name…..and I don’t have just one……..oh oh…….. One of the first things I learned about them. Use one for a month and pay cash to use another for a month and leave the one with all your important contacts at home, still activated(yes, I know it costs more)and in my lead jar(as if I need one since I barely get service from any provider where I live).

  4. Do you think Elon will send you a Tesla to play with? Lol. I am starting to like the Volt except for one thing: Onstar.

  5. […] interested in this sometime in the future. Here is a rather favorable review of the 2017 Chevy Volt.2017 Chevy Volt – EPautos Basically, it is a car designed to run on the battery, and the gas engine is there to charge the […]

  6. I think this would be a car to lease, not buy. The previous gen Volts were going for $99/mo not long ago. That’s almost giving them away. If they don’t sell well, we may yet see these kind of lease rates for the 2nd gen. I do like what they’ve done with the car overall, but I can’t see purchasing one outright for $32K plus.

    • Hi Wind,

      I think you can make a case for either. The base trim (which is very well-equipped) is only $33k – fairly cheap for a plug-in hybrid and not much more than a comparably equipped/otherwise equivalent IC car would sell for.

      Now, I’ve raked similarly priced electric/hybrid cars over the coals, but they can’t go 50-plus on electricity only. This makes the Volt viable – functionally as well as economically. A 50 mile range on the batteries is sufficient for most commutes – there and back. Very doable to go without burning any gas (or very little), which means nil or nearly nil fuel costs.

      Of course, the same is true of pure electrics like the Tesla, but then you have the problem of having to recharge when the battery pack runs low.

      With the Volt, you don’t.

      If you exceed the range on the batteries, the gas engine kicks in and you can drive as long (and as far) as you need to. And you’ll still get very good (40-plus) MPG.

      Now, you’d still be better served to buy a lightly used economy car for $15k or so – if the main object is to keep the cost of driving as low as possible.

      That said, if GM isn’t giving these things away (I suspect they are) and they can continue to whittle down the price until it gets to around $26k or so…. they may be on to something.

      We’ll see!

    • Great article. I totally agree with your assessments and being right on. Thanks for that.

      Here is how I “bought” my 2017 Volt Premier with ACC. I did delay my purchase for the ACC option.

      Sale Price w tax………………40,912
      Fed Incentive…………………….7500
      CO State Incentive……………..6000
      GM CC cash rebate…………….4100
      13 Kia Optima Turbo trade..19000

      Extra cost out of pocket…4312

      With the incentives I just could not resist having such a high tech car for the out of pocket expense. I know not everyone has this opportunity.

      My 15.6 mile commute cost is just .28c one way (1.8c/mile). That is based on .09c per Kwh from Xcel Energy’s summer rates. October through May the rates are .046c per Kwh, so 8 months a year it will cost considerably less to charge.

      As for the car, it has met my expectations so far (took delivery 7/6/16). I am able to drive 2 straight days without recharging and have 7-8 miles remaining when I pull in garage after the second day. My full charge miles show at 68 miles, but actually squeeze a bit more out of it. Coming up on 1 month the only gas used was when the engine went into it’s 6 week maintenance mode. The GM site says it used .1 gallons of fuel. I’m still at 8.8 gallons of the 8.9 capacity after 1 month.

      I’ll see what the frigid Denver winters bring. I hope to be able to get 40-45 miles of electrical power and still give me a full day round trip. I’m not expecting to use any gas, unless the car forces me otherwise.

      • Thanks for the feedback, Dave!

        If you can, please keep us posted about the mileage/performance come winter. I haven’t yet had the chance to test one of these in such conditions.

  7. Was the first gen Volt a series hybrid? Just wondering because I know the concept vehicle was (as is this model), but I seem to recall the first generation was not. To me series hybrid (where the electric motor drives the wheels all the time and the ICE is there to provide power once the batteries are flat) seems to be the way to do it. Eliminate the transmission, most of the drive train and run an engine at peak efficiency as a generator. Direct drive the wheels with electric motors. Use batteries for short trips and additional acceleration. Heck, if the batteries run down just leave the gas engine running to top off the batteries when parked to maximize the generator output (no AC or gadgets running when the driver is in the store).

    • The 2016-2017 Volt can operate as either a series hybrid or a parallel hybrid, depending on which of the 5 drive modes the drive train computers choose (not to be confused with the 4 drive modes the driver can select). This includes the dominant all-electric mode which is not hybrid. Confusing? Yes. But no worries, it works well as intended.

  8. “A loaded Premier trim with heated rear seats, navigation, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking system and wireless cell phone charger lists for $37,570.

    About what you’d pay for a comparably equipped entry-luxury car like a Toyota Avalon or Lexus ES350.”

    That’s only slightly less than the entry price for a significantly nicer car than the Avalon or ES350 — the MSRP for a Hyundai Genesis sedan is $38,750.

    The base price for the Volt is higher than the base price of an Avalon: $32,650.

    If you compare the Volt to a comparably equipped and sized nominal four seater, such as a Corolla or Civic, you’re paying a really stiff premium. It might make economic sense, depending on what electricity costs in your area — at the current highly subsidized pricing. But I suspect this is the opening salvo in attempts to comply with the ridiculous CAFE standards that will take place soon, absent Congress gutting those standards, and the result will be cars that few people can afford. Who can afford $40K or more for an economy car?

      • I don’t believe the Volt was ever characterized as an economy car. PHEV or Extended Range Plug in Hybrid, but definitely not economy. It quite luxurious, quiet and powerful. If you have a state incentive along with the Fed Incentive it is a very good car considering you will dramatically cut your gas consumption. It is tough to justify at $1.95 gallon today.

    • The Hyundai isn’t worth 30 grand. Them and Kia’s are terrible. If you have to fix them–and you will–it will cost a mint.

  9. One other feature that you didn’t seem to mention is “Hold Mode”

    In Hold mode, one can immediately use the gas motor until the Hold mode is turned off, thus getting max highway MPG during highway stretches of a long commute. As an example, my commute is 60 miles each way, the first 45 of which is highway and generally uninterrupted, the last 15 is constant traffic jam, < 20MPH every day. Departure is the reverse, where the first 15 is a constant traffic jam and the last 45 is highway driving. Using hold mode, one can maximize MPG by running electric, where it excels.

    • Using hold mode, one can maximize MPG by running completely electric in the traffic jam, where it excels. The range on electric is scrubbed off due to wind resistance, so highway miles are better done with gasoline unless there’s electric to spare. Electric is used only for accessory and when the vehicle is in motion, no loss due to idling in traffic.

      The commute home, I would just run it electric until it was all consumed, and that’s how to maximize use of the dual-mode capability of the Volt in a mixed exurb/urban commute.

      • Hi Warp,

        One of the reasons I ‘fess to liking the damned thing is that most of my trip “down the mountain” is on a secondary highway; I run 65-75 on this, usually. Did that in the Volt, too. And the little bastard still made it down and almost back on just the batteries….

      • Hi Warp, Your comments on Hold mode are especially pertinent for 2013-2015 Volts on commutes over 40 miles of mixed driving. The Gen 2 Volt has a completely different drivetrain and while you may be able to beat the computer and save a few wH, I’ve read that one of the modes in the new Voltec system will automatically choose gas direct drive when cruising at highway speeds, even with a full SOC.

      • I’m not surprised. It is definitely not a conventional hybrid, and I haven’t seen any mention of the Uncle tax credit lately. If this thing isn’t manufactured at a loss, it is a good option for many use cases. As long as the driver-distracting “features” can be turned off or not bought as options, I don’t see how it would be better or worse than any other late-model car. One good thing about the first-gen Volt was the fact that the gas tank is pressurized. Many users of the Volt go several months without dipping into the tank. Of course, it’s as woven into Big Brother as any other OnStar-equipped GM vehicle, but I’d be more fearful of disconnecting the OnStar box on a car which has all of these integrations.

        I still like the Cruze Diesel, and it vexes me that a diesel electric hybrid is not available. I can’t rightly see what the technical hangup is on making it work. Perhaps it’s a price concern. I mean, it works well enough for locomotives after all. Chrysler was developing one for several years, and it just disappears like a fart in the wind, the claim was that it was impractical for the consumer market, whatever that means.

        • “Chrysler was developing one for several years” – yeah, and back in the 60s they were developing a gas turbine that would run on just about any combustible liquid. I remember seeing an ad – not that they were recommending this as an economic option – where they put whiskey, and then Chanel #5 in the tank. Don’t know what became of it. If you want a gas turbine vehicle now you seem to be limited to aircraft and M1A1 tanks.

          • It was in a movie but I forget which one. I did a bit of searching and didn’t find it or missed it. On a site of the 100 greatest movie cars there were some good-uns.http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/features/the-100-greatest-movie-and-tv-cars-of-all-time.html

            It’s ironic that I mentioned a couple days ago I wished we could watch Two Lane Blacktop again. I thought Warren Oates was great in it. He’s as iconic as they come. I looked it up on Amazon, $43 for a DVD. On the site of the 100 greatest car movie/tv shows that ’55 is 27 on the list and here’s what they have to say about it: Two-Lane Blacktop 1955 Chevy 210: Solid front axle, 454 with tunnel ram, glass nose and deck lid, Plexiglas side windows; it was nasty in 1971 and it’s nasty now.

            It reminds me of being in rush hour traffic at a light with my best friend. I saw a dark blue ’69 Camaro going 90 degrees to us and figured it would turn left to be heading the same direction but when it got to the intersection I could see as it turned some big-ass cheater slicks and the scoop on the hood I was poking fun at had 3 butterflys on a 6-71 blower sitting way up high. I said “maybe not” and my buddy laughed. I’d swear that per person Lubbock, Tx. had the largest number of hot cars of anywhere I’d been. I used to walk by a Cobra SC 427(BRG…..beautiful) every day at the engineering lab. At least one engineer wasn’t a nerd. When he fired it up everybody looked.

        • @Warp

          Just imagine a diesel hybrid burning real diesel fuel (not the washed out and adulterated piss water that is modern low sulfur diesel) and unencumbered by a bunch of Uncle’s nonsense.

          Easily 100 mpg plus.

          • 40 cetane is a joke, too. It’s no wonder VW has such difficulties with Uncle’s tests, the diesel fuel used here is awful compared to Europe.

        • VW has a diesel electric combination that gives real world mileage of 150 to 300 mpg. That is the real reason VW is being crucified. The greens see a real threat to their communistic fascist ideology of destroying all life on the planet, and it is they who are behind the crucifixion of VW. Remember the greens are financed solely by the top of the top of the top elites who want to take over the 50% of the planet they don’t now have but want so desperately.

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