Since its launch four years ago, the Chevrolet Volt has logged the highest owner-satisfaction scores of any General Motors vehicle ever built. Talk to Volt owners, and you're likely to find them to be cheerful, relentless evangelists for their own cars, the 2014 Chevy Volt, and in general, the joys of range-extended electric driving.
Inside the car, you'll find that all four seats are mounted low, but the fronts especially are well-shaped and comfortable over long distances--though the manual adjustment may clash with your idea of a $35,000 car. The center tunnel, which contains part of the battery pack, is both wide and high, and it eliminates any chance of a fifth passenger in the rear. Seating can be tight for four tall adults, but trips of 100 miles or more in a Volt show off the car's pleasantly quiet cabin, its smooth acceleration and good roadholding, and the superb graphics used in its various displays.
Press the power button--with the computer "on" symbol, unlike any other car--and the Volt boots up and checks its systems with a humming tone. Then put the selector in Drive and you move out silently. As you gather speed, you'll find that without the sounds of engine and transmission, wind noise and tire roar become more apparent. The Volt has specially developed noise suppression to minimize such sounds, but without engine and mechanical noises to mask them, the low, steady roar of the low-rolling-resistance tires can stand out.
Under full acceleration, the car remains entirely quiet when running on battery power. Once the range extender kicks on, even the highest power demands are buffered through the battery pack, so the engine only rarely rises to a howl when asked to provide sustained high power at the top of its rev range under the heaviest loads. Frankly, if you didn't already know you were driving an electric car, you might not notice the difference--except that it's quieter than all but the most luxurious gasoline cars under many circumstances.
Quality in all of the Volts we've tested has been top-notch. None have suffered from squeaks or rattles, and complaints in early years of frozen displays and other minor software glitches have receded.
Buyers can choose from a wide variety of interior colors and graphics, and leather seats are optional; cloth upholstery is standard. The console can be specified in piano black (which we find to be a tired cliche by now), glossy white (think Apple products of 2010), or a quieter glossy charcoal color.