Is the Chevy Volt the electric car of the future, or just another stop-gap hybrid along the way to pure EVs? We take a look in our video road test.
How does the Volt work? Chevrolet calls the Volt an extended-range electric car. That's because it actually gets its power at the wheels from a 16.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack, which sends energy to a 149-horsepower electric motor, which then delivers power to the front wheels. When that battery is depleted, a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder range-extender is used to generate electricity that powers the electric motor. By the government's definition, it's an electric car.
The EPA says the Volt has an electric range of 38 miles, though Chevrolet says you'll see between 25 to 45 miles of electric driving depending on conditions. According to the EPA it's one of the most energy efficient cars sold in the U.S. with a rating of 98 MPGe which is the fuel economy equivalent. Once that range-extending generator kicks in you'll see an average of 37 mpg according to the EPA.
Now you're going to want to recharge that battery pack and it will take about 7 to 10 hours to recharge a full-discharged Volt using a standard 120 volt outlet. A 240 volt Level 2 charging station cuts that in half.
If you're looking at the Toyota Prius as the benchmark, the Volt's fun to drive. Electric power delivers 100 percent of the torque from a standstill. The transition from electric to gas power is exceptionally smooth--almost invisible, in fact.
The front seats are comfortable and the cabin has good front-seat room. The Volt's center tunnel contains the battery pack, and it's high and wide, which makes the Volt strictly a four seater, and a slightly tight one at that. You'll note the manually adjustable seats in a $40,000 car, but it's all in the name of conserving battery range. Safety scores, by the way, have been top notch.
The Volt is nowhere as distinctive as the Toyota Prius, but it gets noticed on the road--mostly because it's been in so many commercials.
Inside the Volt is trimmed out with lots of LCD displays and high-gloss plastic, along with capacitive touch switches. We like the all-digital gauge cluster, and the information screens rotate to show the Volt's battery range.
The Volt has a base price of about $40,000 before state and federal tax incentives. Standard features include a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, automatic climate control, keyless entry and push button start, remote start. Our loaded tester has a price tag of just over $43,000 and includes heated leather seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel, Chevy's MyLink infotainment system along with a Bose energy efficient premium sound system.
So what's the bottom line with the Chevy Volt? It's part lightning rod, part space shuttle--and it's one impressive, state of the art green car.
For more information on the 2013 Chevrolet Volt be sure to read our full review here.