The Chevy Volt is the first Chevrolet I’ve driven in probably 20 years. To say I’m not a Chevy Fan would be pretty accurate. Based on my past experience of owning a Camaro and Malibu, I’d quite happily have watched the brand disappear into oblivion. So why am I driving one? Well fortunately Chevrolet didn’t disappear because they are actually creating some good looking cars and they are at the forefront of the EV revolution with cars like the Volt and Bolt. The new Malibu is a good-looking car, as is the Cruze and I love the Colorado truck, so change is afoot at Chevrolet – time to check out the goods!
- Compact Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
- 5-door sedan – it looks like a sedan, but it’s a hatchback
- Seating for 5 people (I wouldn’t want to be the person in the middle of the back seat!)
- Comes in two trim levels LT and Premier
- With its 1.5L engine (also known as a “Gas-powered Range Extender”), the Volt is an EV with a backup plan – completely eliminating “Range Anxiety”
- It runs on an electric charge, but uses its “gas-powered generator” when the battery runs low to recharge the battery on-the-go
- Transmission – electric drive unit, continuously variable
- Charging abilities are: Level 1 (120V @12 amps) – 13 hours / L2 (240V) takes 4.5 hours
- With a fully charged battery (lithium-ion), the Volt is capable of driving up to 80 kilometres without using gas (a full battery only indicated a maximum of 73 kms for me)
- The engine automatically and seamlessly engages once the battery power is kaput
- Through regenerative braking and Regen on Demand, Volt uses its own momentum to recharge the battery as it slows down
- I liked the look of the first gen model – it looked different and wasn’t afraid to let you know it wasn’t a regular car
- The second generation has a ‘regular car’ look – that could be good or bad, depending on your viewpoint
- I love the look of it – although I did confuse it with the Cruze at the auto show when they were parked side by side!
What’s It Like Inside?
- Manual 6-way driver and front passenger seat adjuster (up, down, forward, back and tilt)
- Although very basic seats, they are surprisingly comfortable – even without a lumbar adjustment
- My usual pet-peeve with GM vehicles is that there is nowhere near enough support under the knees with the seat cushion usually ending ½ way under my thighs. Surprisingly there is no issue what-so-ever with that in the Volt – it came right up to my knees for maximum comfort
- Rear seats have 60/40 split and are almost flat when folded
- Getting in and out is very good. The seatback in the aft cabin is quite upright, but not uncomfortably so
- A colour touch-screen in the centre of the instrument panel puts energy screens, infotainment, within reach
- The 6-speaker audio system is pretty good, but I’d probably spring for the optional Bose 8-speaker with sub-woofer if I bought/leased a Volt (comes standard in the Premier model)… or just get the Premier model with leather and a few other valuable goodies
- Cargo Area: 300 L (10.6 cu-ft) with the seats up – I couldn’t find any information on capacity with seats folded flat, so I went old-school and got out my tape measure. Add approximately 27.6 cu-ft to the 10.6 and that gets you 38.2 total capacity
- Leather-wrapped heated steering wheel
- Heated front bucket seats
- Rear heated seats in the Premier model
- Keyless Open and Start + Push-Button Start
- Remote vehicle starter system
- LED low beam, halogen high beam headlights, LED tail lights
- Cool Feature: there’s a second camera in the rear (in addition to the back-up one) that’s connected to the rear-view mirror – just push the tab on the rear-view mirror to active and give you a very wide angle – see picture
- Drive mode control switch – Normal, Sport, Mountain and Hold modes. Default is always Normal, Hold mode allows you to save the battery capacity for later while the engine operates to charge the battery for movement eg: start on highway, but switch to Normal when you get to the city
- The suspension and comfort level were very good – I was expecting something lethargic and dull with plenty of wallow, but not so
- Switched it to Sport mode: Houston, we have a problem… the fun meter just went waaay up! The Volt turned from an economy car into a sports sedan instantly. All that tree-hugging AND achieving maximum fuel economy? Out the window, don’t care anymore just want to have a blast!! Wow. Surprisingly the battery kilometres didn’t take a noticeable hit, even though my driving style changed and I was overtaking any and every vehicle in my path on the way home!!
- Electric drive unit with 149 HP motoring power and 294 lb.-ft. of motoring torque. The torque number is the important number – it felt way faster than our Focus 2L gas powered car. I never experienced a “wish this thing had more oomph” moment – even when entering the highway (can’t say that about our Focus – it’s just a slug)
- Range extender – 1.5L DOHC I-4 with VVT and Direct Injection producing 101 hp (not sure how Chevy can claim 101 hp when the car doesn’t use the engine for forward motion – it’s only used to charge the battery)
What Does It Cost?
To Buy… For up-to-date pricing and options in your region visit: www.chevrolet.ca
Base Canada: $38,590 // As Tested: $38,945 (+$455 for the metallic red paint)
Note: Ontario residents get up to $12,389 in Government Incentives when purchasing/leasing a Chevrolet Volt, making the base price effectively $26,201 – a bargain for sure…
- Electric is rated at: 2L e/100 km (electricity + gas) combined City/Hwy
- Gasoline only is rated at: 5.6 L/100 km combined City/Hwy
- Total Range: 676 km (full gas tank and full battery)
- Electric Range: City/Highway combined: 80 kms
- I averaged 1.1-1.7L e/100 km on the highway at a fairly constant 120 kph and 2.2L e/100 km over the entire week. I got it down to 0.6 L/100 km on a flat stretch of highway doing 120 km/h
- Total kilometres travelled: 466.3 kms / Gasoline used: 5.9 litre /1.26 L/100 km
Provincial Incentive Programs
Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have announced provincial run incentive programs towards the purchase or lease of new plug-in hybrid electric or battery electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt.
Click here to learn more about Ontario’s Electric Vehicle Incentive Program.
Click here to learn more about Quebec’s Electric Vehicle Incentive Program.
And click here to learn more about British Columbia’s program.
RELATED ARTICLE: Living With Three Electric Vehicles – A Day-To-Day Comparison
Chevrolet Complete Care: 2 years/48,000 km of complimentary Lube-Oil-Filter maintenance service, a 3-year/60,000 km New Vehicle Limited Warranty, an 8‑year/160,000km Battery and Voltec® component warranty and 5 years/160,000 km of Roadside Assistance, Courtesy Transportation.
Noteworthy Standard Features
Volt offers support for Apple CarPlay /Android Auto and Chevrolet MyLink (make phone calls, access navigation, select radio stations, choose music from your mobile device, and more)
Built-in Wi-Fi hotspot offers great signal quality and bandwidth for up to seven devices
OnStar 4G LTE
myChevrolet™ MOBILE APP: control your car from anywhere you have a signal, allowing you to:
remote start your vehicle; send destinations to your navigation system; manage your Wi-Fi hotspot; unlock your doors; monitor your charge level and efficiency; you can even find the nearest charging station
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
- The Good: Even the base model comes very well appointed
- The Good: With or without government incentives – this HAS to be on your test drive/purchase list of cars
- The Good: Stick it in Sport mode and you have a plug in sports car – seriously
- The Good: Far superior to similar Ford Fusion Energi
- The Bad: Interior plastics are not top-notch compared to a Kia or Toyota, but better than Ford. That’s OK for this car in this price-bracket
- The Ugly: The rear hatch has a very high lift-over… that’s fine in the summer, but your coat will be filthy during the winter when all the slush and snow will be sitting just where you need to lean in to retrieve/deposit something in the back
- The Ugly: The SatNav is by OnStar only, so once the 3 years’ coverage is up, you’re paying a monthly fee for your navigation – Fail!
What’s The Verdict?
The price of gasoline and electricity in Ontario is outrageous – the Volt negates a huge part of that problem. The Volt is far superior to the comparable Ford Fusion Energi. It has plenty of useful cargo space – the Focus and Fusion have virtually no cargo space bigger than a glove box! There is zero “range anxiety” with the engine/generator/range extender. Owners have reported 1,000 kms between fill ups and even having the original gasoline in the tank a year after purchase. I’ll be in the market to replace my Focus in about 18 months, the Volt is at the very top of my replacement list and I’ll be shocked if one isn’t in my driveway come spring 2019.
Copyright © 2017 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland
Also published at: Flagworld