I have officially eclipsed over 18 months of Chevrolet Volt ownership. This marks two important milestones for me. First, this is one of the longest spans of ownership for a car that wasn’t perpetually broken down in the garage. Second, I have driven over 25,000 miles in that time frame. I chalk both of these milestones to the joy of buying very little gas and the thrill of driving the future.
Of course every new car has its pros and cons. Since this is my daily driver I have adapted to some of the little nuances that somebody new to the vehicle would surely pick up. Here is a brief review of my 2012 Chevrolet Volt.
The Volt will never win a beauty contest, but compared to the current electric offerings that aren’t named Tesla, the Volt is a good-looking machine. The roofline is low and sleek thanks to a steeply sloped rear hatch which helps to offset the giant slabs of vertical metal posing as door. Seriously those doors look about one and a half times too tall due to their flatness. This verticalness also makes the 17″ wheels look much too small for the rest of the vehicle. I think 18″ or 19″ wheels would look much better, but those would carry a weight penalty. The front of the Volt is appropriately aggressive and the LED daytime running lamps makes sure it fits in with today’s most prolific styling trend. The rear of the Volt is a kammback design that sacrifices style for aerodynamic efficiency and is more Prius than Shelby Daytona.
Black plastic everywhere! The doors are made of hard textured plastic and so is the dash. Lest I forget the center console is also made of the stuff and almost every other piece of trim. Speaking of center consoles, the middle of the Volt is dominated with a large center tunnel that conceals the large battery living underneath the car. The tunnel results in a console that extends to the rear seats and makes this vehicle strictly a four person affair. While the plastics are mostly hard they seem to be put together well.
Finally the part of the Volt that makes it unique from almost every other car available on the market today. Without going into too much technical detail, the Volt is a combination of an electric and gas-powered vehicle. A large 10.4 kWh battery powers electric motors to propel the vehicle. When the battery runs low a gasoline engine engages to assist in moving the vehicle. This system works seamlessly and in most instances it hard to notice when the Volt has transitioned from fully electric to gas assisted modes.
The Volt is by far the quietest and smoothest vehicle I have ever driven. When I press the accelerator in electric mode, there is near silence as the vehicle quickly gains speed. The first time I drove a Volt the lack of engine noise while accelerating seemed almost un-natural. Yet at the same time it was a calm and peaceful realization that moving quickly didn’t necessarily require moving loudly. While cruising at highway speeds there is some wind noise, but is on par with most entry-level luxury vehicles.
The Chevrolet Volt and cars of its type are the future. Let’s face it, fuel economy standards will continue to rise as will the regulation of emissions. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing if it spurs more innovative and exciting vehicles and drivetrains. I don’t think economical and fun are mutually exclusive ideas. The Volt is far from a sports car, yet it is entertaining in its own ways. The near silent driving experience, smooth acceleration and highly efficient drivetrain help to pave the way for interesting and exciting vehicles.