2011 Chevrolet Volt
Prospective buyers of all kinds of products often look to Consumer Reports (CR) to weigh in on recommendations for one brand versus another. It’s no different when it comes to choices for family cars, including hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs).
In fact, since buying a vehicle is generally the second-largest financial outlay after a home purchase, consumers might tend to put a lot of weight behind what the influential publication has to say.
So, it’s an interesting turn-about that CR, which initially was fairly critical of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, has now, after seven months of near-constant testing, words of praise for the extended-range gasoline-electric Volt. Editors call the Chevy Volt an “intriguing car” and an “ingenious concept.”
But where words tend to hit home is when they translate into practical applications that can save consumers money. In the case of the Chevy Volt, CR’s long-term testing shows that, with some slight alterations of driving behavior, consumers can, indeed, save money.
(1) Drive less than 40 miles per day.
(2) Take advantage of charging facilities at work, which can allow you to drive more than 40 miles round-trip.
(3) If you live in an area where electricity costs 11 cents (national average) or less per kw/h, you’re going to save money. If you live where the cost is 22 cents per kw/h, you likely won’t.
(4) Drive short trips. This will save money on running costs since on short hops, you won’t use any gasoline at all.
(5) Avoid energy-sapping use of the heater or air conditioner, unless you can’t stand the heat or cold. In either case, expect such usage to eat into your Volt’s miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe).
(6) Stay off the freeway.
(7) On rural roads, try to keep to a 40-45 mph speed, of course, observing posted speed limits.
For a more in-depth explanation of how the Chevy Volt versus its nearest competitor, the Toyota Prius (incidentally, the vehicle most often traded in for the Volt), see the article in our sister publication TheCarConnection or link directly to Consumer Reports. Complete CR testing results will be published in October.
Bottom line: Carefully consider whether your lifestyle, driving behavior, and electricity costs per kw/h will outweigh the purchase price of a Chevy Volt. After $7,500 federal tax credit, if you qualify for it, the 2011 Chevy Volt can net out at $36,100, which is still about $3,000 more than a loaded Toyota Prius. And the Volt requires premium unleaded gasoline, versus regular unleaded for the Prius.
Can you save money with the four-seat Chevy Volt? Do the math. But don’t forget the other part of the buying/driving equation. CR editors praise the Volt’s “strong-and-seamless acceleration and quietness,” its “taut and compliant ride” and “secure and responsive” handling, along with supportive seats.