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2013 Chevrolet Volt Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Chevy Volt - Please use as prescribed by colin42

colin42

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Introduction

The Chevy Volt was recently voted by the readers of TheTrueAboutCars.com as the 10th worst car on sale today. Does it deserve it this reputation?

Reviewed: 2013 Chevrolet Volt

4dr Hatch 149-horsepower Electric + Gas CVT FWD

Why the 2013 Chevrolet Volt?

Fuel economy

The reason you should buy a Volt is all about the fuel cost. In my case I'm averaged close to ~100 mpg (It would have been higher but for a recent 200 mile round trip to Ikea). Granted that mpg is excluding the electricity costs which in my case this car is costing ~ +$30/month increase in my electric bill so after 3 months of ownership (leased October 2012) I've used ~30 gallons of fuel (average cost $3.40 /gal) and driven 3200 miles which is ~ 6.2 cents/mile. Comparing this it a compact (Ford Focus) averaging 30 mpg with regular gas ~ $3.1 would have averaged 10 cents/mile.

Price or payments

There are good deals out there for leases. My total monthly cost (including down payment taxes & fees) is $290/month

Quietness

In electric mode the car is smooth and quiet.

Handling

This isn't a sports car but due to the low center of gravity it handles surprisingly well. I can take a local 270° on ramp @ 40 mpg which is only slightly slower than my previous Merc C230 coupe. In sport mode and low range it actually quite fun (if not good for the battery mileage), however this this car doesn't make you want to drive it fast I find myself driving at the speed limit now compared with 5-10 mph above with my previous car. Due to the high curb weight it smooths out many of the pot holes and doesn't leave you hanging on for dear life (again reference the Merc)

Why Not the 2013 Chevrolet Volt?

Rear seat room & comfort

The rear seats have limited leg room. A forward facing child car seat (Safety 1st Air Protect) is fine but to install it rear facing would make the passenger seat almost unusable and being a 4 seat there is no option to install in the middle of the rear which i find allows in many cars a good way to keep everyone safe & comfortable.

Controls and instruments

There are multiple options often several menu's deep to change how the car behaves. For instance in cold weather there is an option for engine assisted heating. This will run the engine at cold temperatures (35°F) or very cold temps (15°F). The lower temp will consume more battery power as the battery will use its energy to maintain the battery thermal management whereas the 34°F temp it runs the engine until the coolant is warm and uses this to help with battery thermal management. In winter, depending on my planned journey I adjust this frequently. If I know I'm not going to need the full battery range I'll set it to the "at very cold temperatures" but if I'm on my usual 40 mile round trip commute set it to the

Controls and instruments

To recharge the battery on 120V in 10 hours requires you have to select the 12 amps option each time the car is restarted. If this is not done it will use 8 amps and take ~ 14 hours. I wish this could be preset or as a minimum gave you the option to select the charge level when the charge door is opened or the car is switched off.

Driving position & visibility

Looking through the front windshield I can not see the front of the car or any of the hood - This makes parallel parking in tight spots very difficult. Viability through the rear is not much better. There is a split rear window that helps but thick C pillars don't help

Fuel economy

Although the electric range on this car fits most of my needs the fuel economy when the battery is empty is poor. Typically this car will get ~35 mpg (on highway) in premium gulping engine only mode - much lower than other hybrids and worse than many compact cars costing half as much. Therefore if you regularly traveling much beyond the battery only range (say >45 miles) you'd be better served with traditional hybrid.

Conclusion

The Volt is a good if your commute is close to the battery's full range i.e. ~35 mile or you can charge it while at work. In engine only mode ~ 35mpg is worse than many cars making it a poor choice for long journeys. For shorter journeys the cost over other car doesn't make it worth the premium

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