The Chevy Volt has the highest owner-satisfaction scores ever recorded for a General Motors vehicle, and if you meet one, you'll find that its owners are cheerful and relentless evangelists for the joys of range-extended electric driving--and for the 2013 Chevrolet Volt itself.
Driving several hundred miles in a Volt shows off the car's remarkably quiet cabin, its good roadholding and acceleration, and the superb graphics used in its various displays.
Inside the car, the seats are mounted low, but they're comfortable. Manually adjustable seats in a $40,000 car may be a shock, but it's all in the name of conserving battery range. The front seats are spacious enough, though the tunnel is high and wide. In the rear, that same tunnel is large enough to preclude any hope of a center seat, making the Volt strictly a four-seat compact--and a slightly tight one at that.
Cloth upholstery is standard, and leather seating is offered as an option. Some daring and unusual accent colors and graphic designs can be ordered, some of them unlike any other Chevy in the showroom. Want abstract patterns and matching seat piping in lime green (it works far better than you might expect)? The Volt is the only car that has 'em. The console can be ordered in glossy white (think Apple product), piano black (now an outdated cliche), or a quieter glossy charcoal.
Low volume and massive press attention mean that the Volt is very much in the public eye, and Chevy has worked hard to keep quality high. None of our test cars has had any rattles or squeaks, and indeed the only thing owners have reported are a handful of software glitches and frozen graphic displays. Just as other makers do, Chevrolet has offered minor software updates to fix reported problems.
The Volt is easy enough to drive that your mother might never know she was driving an electric car from the behind the wheel. Well, there's also that futuristic humming tone as the car boots up and does its system checks.
But without the sounds of engine and transmission, wind noise and tire roar become much more apparent. Chevy's done a good job at minimizing these, but the low-rolling-resistance tires can put out a low, steady roar without other noises to mask them.
Still, there are no startlingly loud sounds at speed or under full-throttle acceleration. With the battery pack used to buffer the highest power demands, the engine-generator only rarely rises to a howl as it revs to the top of its range to provide sustained high power under the heaviest loads.