This is one I have been waiting to do for a while now, the much hyped Volt from Chevy. I knew of course that the Volt was a new sort of hybrid car and I knew that its design was far superior to that of other hybrids already on sale, like the Prius. However, the way it drove surprised the hell out of me. What I expected was a mushy, slow econobox, what I got was totally different.
The Volt’s electric motors are all that drives the wheels and its gasoline motor functions only as a generator that sends power to the batteries when they run out of juice. This is in comparison with the Prius, who’s electric motor only functions to help out its gasoline motor at low speeds or when you are cruising. The Volt has a range of around 40-50 miles at any speed on pure electricity, and then has the gasoline generator to help out after that so you aren’t left on the side of the road like everyone who bought a Nissan Leaf. So, if you drive under 50 miles a day then you have all the benefits of a purely electric car, but without any sort of range restriction issues if you need to drive further. The Volt is in my opinion the most technologically intelligent of the green cars out there by a huge margin. This is because it is realistic in the way it uses our current technology, not like a Nissan Leaf.
That said, the Volt does command quite a price premium over a standard Prius. Prices go from around $40k to around $45k. Remember this is for a Prius competitor, and the Prius’ price ranges from $25k to around $32k. Even with the $7500 tax rebate the Volt can still only match the price of a top range Prius, and the owner will still be making monthly payments on a $40k loan. If you ask me, that is a lot of money to make up, but the Prius gets good enough mileage to make doing that with fuel savings rather difficult within a reasonable timeframe. With the Volt you have to spend more money to save more money, and that kind of negates the point, don’t you think?
Visually the Volt does utilize the same basic shape as a Prius, however unlike the Toyota, which looks like some sort of insect, the Volt is much more tasteful in its styling. It is futuristic but handsome at the same time. It doesn’t scream, “notice me I’m Green” to the audacious level that its competitors do, and I like that because I find it to be a bit obnoxious.
Everything prior was well known before I drove the car, but the Volt’s ace in the hole was that it was an absolute blast to drive. That’s right, the new econobox king is actually a sprightly little machine offering a decent chassis, quick steering, and a nice surge of acceleration when you put the foot down in sport mode. Fun is certainly the word I would use here. The culprit behind the Volts quickness is its electric motors which put out 149hp and 273 ft/lbs of torque, and that is all at the wheels mind you, very little drivetrain loss here. The torque is what creates this feeling of addicting, hard acceleration, although it must be said that the speed itself climbs only moderately when you look at the speedometer. Feel wise it is an absolute riot, though. Compared to a Prius, the Volt’s handling is very engaging, and it feels very nimble and energetic. So, yes my big surprise was that the Volt is actually a fun little driver’s car, at least as far as these green cars seem to go.
Inside the Volt has a level of quality to it that none of its competitors even come close to. It is legitimately “nice” in there, and very modern. Leather seats come standard as does pretty much all of its features except for things like parking sensors and a backup camera. There is also plenty of cargo space in the back as it is a hatchback. The center console was designed off of the iPod and the whole thing is touch, with no physical buttons. The Chevy Volt is a legitimately good car in all ways, a big surprise to me given that its competitors all require lots of compromises. It may be a little more expensive than the Prius or Leaf, but I assure you it is worth every penny of that markup because it has way better technology.
The Chevy Volt is fantastic, and a real surprise to me. It is a car that can save you tons of money on gas a year, but doesn’t ask you to make compromises in its aspects as car. If it was my number one hybrid pick before based on its new technology alone, it has cemented that position with the way it drives for sure. If you are looking for a green car, and can afford the Volt, then don’t even bother with its competition because the Volt is in a totally different league. That said, it would be nice if the generation Volt didn’t cost as much.
Primary Function: MPG: 2
Secondary Functions: Luxury(1), Practicality(2), Performance(2): 2
Visual Appeal: 2
Build Quality: 1
Value for Money: 0…… It is way more expensive than a Prius, too much so to offset with gas savings within a reasonable timeframe
Final Score: 7/10