2011 Chevrolet Volt

Matt Tierney

My weekend with the Chevrolet Volt was entirely uneventful, because the Volt works just like a regular gasoline-powered car. I drove all over town -- to the airport, to dinner, to Whole Foods, to the pool -- without once suffering the dreaded "range anxiety" that afflicts drivers of other electric cars.

As Mr. Tierney and Mr. Nordlicht note, the Volt's brake pedal at first doesn't seem to decelerate the car at all, then engages the brakes so unexpectedly as to produce unintentional panic-stops. I quickly acclimated to the pedal after driving the Volt about two blocks.

I'm amazed at just how quiet the Volt is, whether running on electricity or gasoline, and even at over 70 mph on the highway. Otherwise, the driving experience is remarkably similar to that of other modern compact sedans.

The unique shape -- no doubt abetted by General Motors's marketing blitz -- means the Volt attracts plenty of attention. Pedestrians at a downtown intersection pointed and gawked at "that electric car," a cyclist slowed down in the bike lane to stare, and my neighbors asked questions like, "Does it need gas?" The last car I drove that garnered this much attention was a bright-red Lotus Elise.

I have but a few gripes with the Volt. I'll agree with everyone else who says the center stack needs a redesign. The button labels are hard to read, and their layout is confusing. The buttons also became totally unresponsive for about 20 minutes after a lunch stop, but that may have been just a fluke. I really wish there was rear seating for three, and a divider between the cabin and cargo area should come standard. Finally, the wind-cheating front air dam is so low that it's easy to scrape on speed bumps, and I fear it might be torn off in an automated car wash.

Overall, though, I was so impressed by the Volt that, if I were in the market for a new sedan, I would strongly consider leasing one.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

The technology isn't the problem, it's the ugly exterior design, product availability & that price.
In talking with folks about this car, the most common concerns I have heard have been about the high initial cost and the need to eventually replace the batteries. None of the write-ups in this article mention those concerns.For myself, I still can't believe how badly the stylists dropped the ball on this one. The basic shape is interesting and eye-catching, but the detailing is flat awful. The fake grille on the front is pathetic. The huge cheesy black trim under the side windows ensures that while all the discomforts of a very high beltline are firmly in place, none of the coolness is happening. The rear end is excitingly wide, flat and tall, but the detailing makes it look cheap and unfinished. Where are the people that did the Malibu, Camaro, and Corvette? What happened?
A cargo cover comes standard with all Volts. It is located underneath the floor in the trunk next to the charge cord and tire inflater.
Re: Mr. Tierny:There is a cargo area cover (canopy like) stored under the cargo floor that is standard on all Volts. Please see the link: http://youtu.be/BzLexrbKXNk

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