2011 Chevrolet Volt Plug-In Hybrid Hatchback: Quick Drive Page 2

July 10, 2011

There's information available everywhere you look on this car, particularly through the central stack. All pertinent buttons are flush-mount and touch sensitive, and while they're all pretty much the same color, after just a little bit of driving the Volt's controls become second nature.

It did take a while for me to find the button for the standard navigation system, but once I did, it was excellent to use.

The central stack and tunnel area is glossy against matte semi-soft plastics on the dash and the flush-mount central navigation system never washes out in bright sunshine. The Volt uses a start/stop button and has keyless remote entry standard on the vehicle.

Cost is a question mark. The Volt driven here has a starting price of $41,000, including destination. With $3180 in total options the list price came to $44,180--but many buyers will qualify for a $7500 federal tax credit that helps lessen the sticker shock by reducing your income taxes when you file. 

Options include premium leather seating and door trim ($1395), with 3-position heated front seats and a very nice leather-wrapped steering wheel that has cruise control on the left and audio/phone controls to the right.

In addition there's a rear camera and park assistance front and rear. Its tendency to beep the moment a driver is anywhere near another car drove me nuts. That costs $695. The five-spoke 17-inch forged and polished alloy rims ($595) ride on Goodyear Assurance 215/55R rubber all around; they're definitely not the normal low-rolling-resistance tires found on many hybrids these days. Add in the extra charge of $495 and there's the laundry ticket.

I kept track of how many miles went by before the Volt discharged its electricity and how much fuel I used: I did just over 37 miles in mostly highway driving on a single charge and used 1.35 gallons of premium in 44-1/2 miles - not bad! The fuel tank holds 9.3 gallons of unleaded.

I find the interior of the 2011 Chevy Volt very, very quiet, if a wee bit over-isolated. I discovered that the car can easily handle twisty roads without complaint. I took it up a very steep hill in electric mode (toward the end of a cycle and nearly killed it completely) and the Volt never appeared to complain.

There were a lot of positive comments about the looks of the Chevrolet Volt. It's a very cohesive-appearing design, though not the most luxurious. The front end is all-Chevy and familial in look with its double-grille and large bowtie. There is no opening on the grill but an intake below. Large foglamps frame the front end.

A black band starts before the front door opening and continues to the rear doors while the rear is marked by another large blackened area and an upswept wing. It sounds busy but it all works.

Inside the Volt, all seat adjustments are manual (with height adjustment for the driver), there are hard plastics all about the cabin (they even charge for them on the doors), and there's a good central storage area behind the shifter and obligatory central cupholders.

In the rear lies space for two people only with tunnel-separated cupholders. No air for the rear but there's a door pocket for storage. The central storage has a 12-volt plug.

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