Motor Trend and Automobile magazines declared it the 2011 Car/Automobile of the Year. It was one of 10 Best for 2011 Car and Driver magazine. And the sedan won the 2010 Breakthrough Technology honor from Popular Mechanics. The praise showered on the Chevrolet Volt is well deserved. This is a "game-changer."
The 2012 plug-in gas/electric car gets a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine putting out 149 total horsepower (84 hp for gasoline) and 273 pounds-feet of torque. You will be pleasantly surprised at the smooth ride the Volt offers, scooting from 0 to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds.
Preparing this technological wonder for a jaunt is fairly simple. Plug the supplied charge cord into a 120-volt household current (10 to 12 hours) or a 240- volt charging station (four hours). The first 39 miles are purely electric driven because of a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery (435 pounds) and two generator motors. The cost to fully charge the battery averages around $2.64. And forget about range anxiety (running out of gas), thanks to the gas-powered hybrid system kicking in for 300 miles. Drive comfortably for a total of 350 miles or thereabout before having to charge the eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty battery or add fuel. If time is of essence, fill up the gas tank and take off.
To ensure you get the most out of the Volt, a 7-inch LCD screen displays the speedometer and battery/fuel level bar graph indicators. Turn on the efficiency button to keep an eye on energy usage, power flow and battery charge.
Available in base trim, the Volt is priced at $39,145. But with a federal tax credit of $7,500, you get a reasonably affordable ride for $31,645. If you are prepared to look beyond a crowded rear seat and premium fuel requirement, the Volt is the car of the future that one day will be mastered to its perfection. You can bet on it.
Wheelbase: 105.7 inches
Length: 177.1 inches
Weight: 3,781 pounds
Transmission: 1-speed automatic
Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut-type front; torsion beam rear
Steering: Rack-mounted electric power
Fuel capacity: 9.3 gallons
Combined fuel economy: 93 mpg all-electric; 37 mpg gas only; 60 mpg combined