2011 Chevrolet Volt

I drove the car for the rest of the weekend without plugging it in again. I ended up doing 253 miles in total, using 5.8 gallons -- plus the one battery charge -- for a total of 43.5 mpg. The car indicated 102 miles of (gasoline) range remaining when it left my driveway.

The mix of driving I did was about 75 percent highway, mostly around 65 mph but with lots of hills. The around town stuff was also very hilly. We helped the car out by not running the A/C, an easy assist given the beautiful spring weather. Given all that, the 43.5-mpg average is not spectacular. (The Volt's EPA estimates are 35 mpg city, 40 mpg highway.) A Toyota Prius could probably do better; so might a VW Golf TDI. Either would be considerably cheaper.

The takeaway
Clearly, if you're not going to plug in the Volt regularly, you're far better off to buy a Chevy Cruze (or most any other traditional compact) and bank the extra $10k. And as a plug-in EV, the Volt's range is less than that of the considerably less expensive Nissan Leaf. So then, what's the point? What the Volt offers is flexibility. Whereas a pure EV like the Leaf might be a family's third car, used exclusively for commuting or short trips around town, the Volt could be a second or even an only car. It's the commuter car that can also go out of town. The Volt can be driven as a pure electric car but it's far more versatile than one, because you can use it even if there might not be enough battery power to get where you're going and back home again. So it's less likely to be left in the garage and more likely to be out on the road.

Whereas a pure EV is a very purpose-specific car, the Volt can cover a much wider spectrum of use. The only area where it really doesn't make much sense -- although it could still be used -- is for long-distance driving. Run it most of the time on gasoline, and the Volt seems silly. The higher the portion of EV driving, the more compelling the Volt becomes. Chevrolet's car of the future can return fuel economy as low as 35 mpg -- or, with frequent recharging, it can never use any gasoline at all. Your mileage may vary, indeed.

BlueGTR
Re: JgowerThe full charge from empty Volt battery meter usually runs around 8kw and with my electricity rate cost me around $1.65 per 40 miles of driving.
jgower
I'm wondering, for my own personal information, how much of a difference charging the volt will make on my electric bill. How much electricity is used in a ten hour charge? My electric bill always tells me how much a kw costs, so how many kw does it take?
Jayhawker91
It's not a joke, nor is it more trouble than it's worth. It is more than ready for prime time. I've owned a Volt since February. I have 1,945 miles on the car and have used a total of 4.5 gallons of gas. Plugging in my car when I'm at home isn't challenging or tough - it takes me an extra 15 secs when I pull in, and 15 secs when I leave. It's just a new way of doing things - just like how most of us plug in our mobile phones in the evening (I know, retrostang, you only use a corded landline, right?)And I don't quite understand how it is an experiment - seeing how my car is every bit as capable, and maybe more so, than your hybrid. Silly comments from the uninformed gallery today...
BigBlock45
Mmm, "except for its price" tells me the Volt is not ready for prime time but is still an experiment which we get to pay for! Considering the price, the copromises in design and the short range.. I'll stick with a Hybrid. Nice try, though.
dubfun
Seems like it's more trouble than it's worth.
retrostang
What a joke! Who wants to plug their car in every time they pull in their garage. I'll stick with my Mustang.
Volt1919
I want to point out that all Volts come with a cargo cover that can be used to cover up the cargo area so people can't see what you are carrying. The cover is found in the trunk next to where the charge cord goes.
Petros
Apart from its price, I find the Volt as the best "Green" car to own. Its pure electric movement is more enjoyable than the Prius and obviously less stressful than the Leaf. Plus, if you only drive around 20-30 miles a day (the case for most of us) then you're driving only on electricity.

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