Review: 2011 Chevrolet Volt Take Two

Posted on 10. Nov, 2010 by in Auto News

We have the Chevrolet Volt has been heard for so long that it's hard to believe that it's finally here. Or almost here. Close enough for a preview drive. And?

I never expected that the Volt, as the obviously impractical original concept look. Likewise, I was not surprised that prettified the production Volt resembles a Prius because Toyota styling communicates so successful its advanced technology for the general population. The most questionable aspect of the exterior design: the ultra-wide glossy black beltline moldings. You want to hide the smallness of the side windows. Why not just use the larger screen? Because this would be the load on the battery-powered AC.

If the volts inside seem like a $ 33,500 after-tax (credit) car? Well, no. I was more impressed by the material and workmanship of much conventional interior in the related, much less expensive, conventionally powered Cruze. But the Volt interior is distinctive, effectively communicates the car's technology and is much nicer than the interior of the Prius. If the Prius interior is good enough to assume a nearly $ 27,000 car (with nav) and selling that it is-the Volt is good enough for a $ 33,500 car. Do not care for the glossy white trim iPodish? Then use instead of the dark trim. The reconfigurable LCD displays seem a wealth of information, including a class to your driving style (92, while I was trying to behave) provide. But they make it clear signs when braking is hard enough to engage the conventional brakes (reducing efficiency). No report of miles per kW-hr when running off electricity. After GM exec in the back seat, just wish people like numerical statistics. Although GM will add features in the future, the Volt is a work in progress. And detailed reports are already available on the Internet, where the Volt. Regularly uploading data via OnStar The controls on the center console are the touch-sensitive type that recently debuted in the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. Whether you like them, I know-they are the future. The strangest little between the various odd bits of the interior: you need to reach in a cave at the base of the center console to grab the shift lever when it is in park.

The rake of the windshield far is reasonable, so. The need for window lettes at the doors In the current GM mode, the A-pillars are thick, although not up to the point where they reduce safety more as they improve it. Rear view is much worse is the optional Park Assist Package recommended. The front seats are not as serious or as tight as the cushioned feel in the Cruze, but they offer decent lateral support. Unlike the Cruze, there is only one relative manual adjustment, so that the inclination of the seat can not be adjusted. The rear seats are the weakest aspect of the car. Excessively low to the ground, and strong, if you have a child (or the size of a) you are not comfortable. Load volume under the wiperless hatch also marginal, but make for typical errands in town. The Prius offers considerably more space for both rear passengers and cargo.

The Volt drivetrain is more complex than previously thought. In the city with a sustainable level of the battery charge, the primary 149-horsepower electric motor-generator, the car powered by a fixed gear ratio. At high speed of travel of this ratio is too short, so that. A second, smaller generator motor in engagement with the planetary gear set, in order to reduce the ratio Once the battery is depleted (Figure 30-50 miles), a 84-hp 1.4-liter gasoline engine is started automatically. In the city spins the smaller motor generator to supply power to the primary motor generator message via the battery. At highway speeds with the depleted battery pack, the second motor-generator back into engagement with the planetary gear is the transmission ratio varies, but now coupled with the gas engine. In this last mode, the gas engine enjoys a mechanical connection to the front wheels. While this mechanical connection has purists a little disturbed, it is more efficient if it. On gasoline Personally, I would prefer a mechanical connection at lower speeds for the same reason, though perhaps the drive train with the engine just to drive the planetary gear with the smaller motor-generator, opposes.

So, what feel? Surprisingly normal. I feared that a gas motor decoupled from the driveline and running fit the needs of the battery would sound strange. If the engine sometimes to his race, while sitting at a traffic light? As it turns out, no. If anything, the Volt's engine sounds less separated from the accelerator as in the typical CVT-equipped conventional car. Transitions between modes are not only smoother than in the Prius and Ford Fusion Hybrid, are almost not detectable. In some situations, the engine may be a little to be detected, because sometimes it generates a low-frequency right at the edge of perception. A barely perceptible noise can annoying than a little louder.

GM suggests that, given the high torque of the primary motor-generator, the Volt feels about as strong at low revs than V6-powered sedan. Well, not really. But even with four adults on board the Volt feels far more energy than a Prius, and almost as quick as the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Three driving modes are available, including one for the mountains and "Sport". I discovered a small difference between normal and sport, apparently because my foot was too heavy. Modes make the largest difference with the pedal less than half of the ground. Move the shift lever from D to L aggressively attacking brake energy recovery, when you lift the accelerator almost eliminates the need to use the brake pedal. I found the ride too aggressive for typical in the city, but it would certainly be welcome on a hilly road.

Only the first five miles of my journey were on battery it was not much time for a charge, as the car trip back. Then I babied the car for a while, and reached about 35 MPG. The second half of my drive when I was looking for the claimed V6-like low-speed performance was burning a gallon of gas every 28 miles. These numbers are subject to approximately five MPG nearing Fusion Hybrid to similar (mis), and about 10 to 15 just before the MPG Prius. GM, the gas engine turned as backup power, most owners would not need it often, so it is not for the cost of fuel consumption has been optimized. You have to talk about improving this aspect of the Volt in future iterations, with just over a potential future energy source.

The biggest surprise: The Volt processed significantly better than the Cruze or the Prius. GM has long been a talent for making cars feel larger and heavier than they are actually detected. With the Volt, they finally have the perfect (for me at least) more desirable opposite. The steering is not very talkative, but through them even a fully loaded Volt feels light and agile, with minimal understeer, far exceeded my expectations. In contrast, the latest Prius feels strangely heavy and presses alternately wide. While the Volt even sure no sports car and the Ford Fusion Hybrid feels a little sportier-it'll well as commuters. I hope the Volt team shares its chassis tuning tricks with the rest of GM.

Body movements are fairly well controlled, though some additional damping would be welcome. The V-drive is a little tighter, busier and noisier than the Cruze, but the Cruze drives better than anything else in its class. The Volt is not a better ride than the Prius and Fusion Hybrid. From an efficiency-maximizing energy-old car, which is about as good as it gets.

People have been critical of the Volt pricing, but a $ 7,500 tax credit brings the net MSRP of $ 33,500. Almost everything, including nav and the imagination displays is standard. Options leather seats with heating, Park Assist Package, and polished wheels are limited. True Delta car price comparison tool suggests that the Prius lists about $ 4,000 less when both cars with leather, nav and 17-inch alloys are fitted. A Ford Fusion Hybrid with nav lists for only $ 1,150 less. Ask for feature differences (especially a sunroof available on the Volt) increases, and the Ford Advantage to approximately $ 3,000. Add leather two cars adds about $ 1,000 for both pieces-Ford kicks in additional savings when all the boxes are checked. Three or four grand is not small change, but it seems reasonable for the Volt extended-electric capability. Probably a better price: GM offers a lease for $ 2,500 down and $ 350 per month.

So, even my first drive of the Chevrolet Volt a few surprises, almost all of them up. The biggest: oddly enough, the handling. The powertrain most impressed with her normality. The biggest disappointment: the small back seat. GM has clearly put a lot of thought and effort into this car and achieve a much higher detailed construction and finishing, as I would have thought possible just a few years ago. My personal commute extends all the way from the second floor of my house to the first. So no Volt for me. But if you spend an hour a day or two pendulums, and the thought of expending no gas in the process irritate, then go ahead and get in line. At least initially, there is likely to be.

GM provided the vehicle, insurance and very little gas for this review

Michael Karesh owns and operates True Delta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data