The 2011 Chevrolet Volt electric car qualifies for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, effectively reducing the net base price from $41,000 to $33,500. Some states offer additional purchase incentives that can be combined with the federal credit. Other electric vehicle-related perks that vary by city or state include single-occupant access to carpool lanes, free metered parking and significantly reduced vehicle registration fees. Home charging stations, which cut charging times in half compared to standard wall outlets, are also eligible for attractive incentives. You can find more incentive information at fueleconomy.gov and pluginamerica.com.
By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.6
With its unique Voltec propulsion system that combines a powerful electric motor and an internal-combustion engine/generator, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt establishes a new class of high-efficiency/low-emission production car that overcomes the single most critical real-world shortcoming of pure electric models: Range anxiety. This stylish four-door compact hatch can travel an average of 35 miles on pure electric power from a Lithium-ion battery pack before its gasoline-fueled "range extender" transparently kicks in to directly generate electric power for another 344 miles. Loaded with technology and creature comforts, Chevy is betting the Volt will outpoint its eco-oriented challengers in the Great Green Derby – especially the equally new Nissan LEAF EV and the reigning conventional hybrid champ, the Toyota Prius.
If you are intrigued by the idea of an electric car but feel like their limited mileage range won't fit your needs, the extended-range 2011 Chevy Volt is a perfect compromise between the EV you want and the gasoline-powered vehicle that more practically fits into your daily routine.
Even sweetened with potential federal and state tax advantages, the 2011 Chevy Volt remains a relatively pricey pick and enjoying the full benefits of its green potential will require recharging it regularly. For some, alternatives like the Nissan LEAF EV, Toyota Prius Hybrid, Volkswagen Golf TDI or even a Honda Fit may make more bottom-line sense.
Beyond eliminating the dreaded range anxiety limitation that impacts all pure electric vehicles, the Volt's "Voltec" propulsion system will serve as the basis for a number of other General Motors extended-range vehicle offerings in the coming years.
Driving Impressions Built on a bespoke version of GM's global small car architecture that also underpins the Chevy Cruze, the Volt offers a decidedly conventional basic driving experience overlaid with a few...unique Voltec-specific wrinkles. The biggest difference can be felt in the immediate torque provided by its electric motor as well as the complete (or relative) absence of engine noise in its well-isolated passenger compartment. The Volt's well-tuned suspension is ably complemented by quick and decently-weighted energy-saving electric power steering while super-efficient regenerative circuitry on its four-wheel disc brakes is noticeable but far from intrusive. Transitioning from pure-electric to range-extended mode is virtually transparent save for a faint engine sound accompanied by a dash icon that changes from a battery to a fuel pump. Although the EPA estimates that you'll see about 35 miles of electric range, how you drive, interior climate settings and road conditions do make a difference. In fact, trying to keep the car in EV mode is part of the fun of driving the Volt - almost like trying to top your best score at Pac-Man.
Delayed Start and Departure Time Mode
Using information supplied by your local electricity provider, the Volt can be programmed to commence recharging its battery pack when rates are at their lowest to help save money. Tell it when you plan to leave in the morning or evening, and it will automatically schedule the charging process to ensure that the battery is full in time for your commute.
Volt Smartphone App
Have a smartphone? By utilizing the OnStar MyLink app, you can check your Volt's battery level, tire pressure, available electric range, lock/unlock the doors and even start the A/C system so the interior is at a comfortable level when you're ready to leave. You can even control the Volt's charging rate from your phone and get a text or an e-mail when the battery is topped off.
The interior of the 2011 Chevy Volt echoes the car's futuristic vibe. The center stack is covered in touch-sensitive controls for the audio and climate control systems instead of buttons and knobs. In place of gauges, two seven-inch LCD screens - one mounted in the gauge cluster and another in the center of the dash – display vehicle speed, battery state of charge, electric range, fuel level and driving efficiency. Black cloth seats and white interior accents come standard, but leather seats are available with green, black or light gold-colored accents. The 5.5-foot, 435-pound, T-shaped battery that's nestled underneath the center of the vehicle makes having a bench seat in the back row impossible, but the end result is two buckets that are quite comfortable - once you get situated in them. Thanks to the aerodynamic sloping roofline, rear seat ingress and egress are not exactly the Volt's strongest points.Exterior
To optimize its total operating efficiency, the Volt's exterior design team spared no effort in creating a shape that could slice through the air with the greatest of ease. Every element, from its rounded front fascia, closed-off grille and aggressively raked windshield to the crisp trailing edges on its rear fenders and a functional hatch spoiler were meticulously matched to yield the most aerodynamic production that GM has ever created. To wring the most extra miles-per-gallon out of the vehicle's design, the Volt rolls on 17-inch Goodyear Fuel Max low-rolling resistance lightweight wheels, which weigh 17.8 pounds each.
In base form, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt comes with a more comprehensive feature set than any other Chevy currently on the market. It's also the recipient of all of Chevy's latest and greatest technology and features, including touch-sensitive climate, audio and drive controls, an energy-saving Bose sound system (it's 40 percent lighter and uses 50 percent less energy than a conventional sound system) and an eight-year 100,000-mile warranty on its battery pack and associated electrics. You'll also get standard navigation, a 60 MB hard drive with 30 MB of space for music, five years of OnStar and USB connectivity.
It's hard to call an options list a list when there are only two on offer: a Premium Trim Package and Rear Camera and Park Assist Package. The Premium Trim Package adds heated front seats, leather seating surfaces and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, while the Rear Camera and Park Assist Package includes - as you'd expect - a rear-view camera and front/rear parking sensors. If you're going to spring for any options on the Volt, we'd recommend the park assist package; the Volt's low-slung and very easily scraped front air dam makes parking sensors particularly helpful when you're not quite sure where the curb starts. Finally, bling fans can choose to have their Volt's aluminum wheels done in a bright-polished rather than the standard satin finish.
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt's propulsion system consists of an electric drive unit that makes 149 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, a 16kWh liquid-cooled Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack and a 1.4-liter/84-horsepower in-line four internal-combustion "range-extender." The latter takes over when battery charge decreases to a certain level – normally after 25-50 miles of driving – and generates on-the-fly electricity for another 344 miles. Replenishing the battery pack takes 10-12 hours using a standard 110V outlet or three-four on a 240V dedicated unit. The Volt has three operating modes. "Normal" is the most efficient, "Sport" provides more direct accelerator response and "Mountain," which requires 10-15 minutes of advance engagement but optimizes the battery to cope with increased energy demands caused by extended steep grades. The Volt has earned a 93 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) combined city/highway EPA rating in pure EV mode and returns 37 mpg when the range-extender kicks in.
AC synchronous electric motor/generator
16kWh lithium-ion battery pack
1.4-liter in-line four
111kW/149-horsepower @ 4800 rpm
273 lb.-ft. of torque @ 0-4800 rpm
Projected per-charge range: 35 miles (all-electric), 344 miles (gasoline range-extender only)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 93 MPGe (when in all-electric mode, miles per gallon equivalent), 37 MPG (when the range-extender motor/generator is running)
By Dispatch1 on Tuesday, July 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "$$$ savings, great accel for what it provides"
Cons: "Getting in/out slightly awkward for tall people"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After National ($7500) and State ($3916) Rebates paid only $23500 for this car (of note, was a show model, bought with about 3800 miles, vs similarly packaged cruze listing for around $24000). Have owned it about 1 year, had one mechanical issue that was resolved quickly. Similar in size to the Chevy Cruze, but with leather interior, NAV and all the other bells and whistles, the Volt came out far ahead in financial calculations. At .08 cents a KWH, it costs me about $1 to go between 25 and 40 miles depending on the time of the year. Approx 1/4 the cost of gas. The design interior went futuristic with what appears to be touch sensitive plastic for the center console, did not like this hence the 8 on design, but outside of that, interior is nicely done. Comfort took a hit as I am 6'5", I found it took a little extra effort to get in and out of the car, but once in, I fit very nicely with room to spare. Was able to get a passenger in the front seat that was 6'8" and another passenger in behind him on a trip, while not ideal for long trips, it is doable for rides under 2-3 hours. One of my favorite perks.... typically has about 8 gallons of usable gas before the low fuel alert comes on, I have been getting between 650 miles (winter) and 2400 miles (Summer) between fill-ups, saving time at the gas station. Of note, the majority of my driving does fit into the electric range of this vehicle, the engine will also kick in occasionally (to keep the engine warm) despite having electric charge remaining when the temp goes below 25F, and the car is rated 37mpg on gas power although I have obtained closer to 43mpg when on longer trips with cruise control set at 65mph. Would check with the State and Fed first to see if the rebates are still available, and if so, how much.... IL is not the only state that offers a rebate."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By KITTOwner on Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Not worrying about gas prices."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car has delivered on everything I had hoped for. I spend 90% of the time on the battery. I love that I can take long trips if I want and not worry about finding a charging station because the gas gen takes care of me, or have to own a second car, or rent a car. I think Chevy got it right with this car."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By richardNbatonRouge on Monday, June 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 99,881overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "saves gas, but so would a sub compact."
Cons: "flat tires are EXPENSIVE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Not sure if it's a problem with the type of tire. First two years I had no tire problem. This year, I've had to have it towed 3 times due to flats. The fix-a-flat would not hold in any of the flats I had. The problem with no spare is that I've had to stay in a hotel over night. In the most recent case, the dealership could not get the tire till the next day. I missed two days of work and had a hotel stay on top of the tire cost. Should a dealership carry at least one tire for any kind of car they sell? what happens when they decide to stop making this type of tire?"
By natefair on Monday, June 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Total cost to own is low, very fun to drive"
Cons: "Small, some controls are a little complex"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"It's a great price/deal if you factor in the rebates and fuel savings. Do the math - FAR better than a hybrid. Those 40 electric miles I get every day fill most of my miles at about 100 mpg equivalent. I love the way it drives - much sportier than I expected. It's quicker and handles better than any non-sports car I have ever owned, and quieter, too. Even when it uses gas it only uses it to power a generator, so it is technically always running on electricity - no loud shifting of gears! The technology and computer console is impressive and fun. This is small car that fits me perfectly, but tall or large people may feel differently. Although the quality of construction feels high, I had to give it an 8 on reliability but I confess this is based on my anti-Chevy bias. It's reliability for the past 4 years looks strong and I am hoping my first Chevy will have a repair record similar to my Toyotas and Hondas. Be smart with your research and you will want this car! OK, got to go drive it now...somewhere...anywhere..."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By jcsinner on Sunday, June 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Who needs gas, NOT ME!! great in snow & ice"
Cons: "It is very low to the ground."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had this vehicle for just about one year. I am a commuter and spend two hours a day in this car. I love it. I have put on 17000 miles since I bought it one year ago, and have only visited the gas station a total of 7 times (this was only during the really cold winter, none in the summer), and have only paid about $70 dollars worth of gas total. I have not seen an increase in my electric bill like they said I may. I drive in to the city from the country and have not had any problems driving in snow or ice, even with the low clearance, it has just plowed right through it. My husband and I were worried about the initial output of money to purchase, but we have since figured out even with the higher car payment we are saving almost $800 dollars a month (no I'm not joking or exaggerating). Even with this car being an electric, it has get up and go. I never have to worry about getting up to speed to get on the highway (I have a lead foot, and it keeps me very happy), though the faster you press the car, the less charge you get from it overall.I would recommend this car to anyone who is looking to get away from the gas pumps."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Avenues-Guy on Wednesday, June 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Responsive, Silent, & Rarely Buy Gas!"
Cons: "Aren't as many on the road as there should be."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car is a huge environmental breakthrough. We have had this car since Sept 2013 and have yet to buy gas. We charge it up with the 110 Volt We live on a hill and within a drive of a few miles our range quickly rises from 41 to 54 miles (which we assume is tops). After running our errands we return home with very little reduction in range from when we departed, usually about 37 miles. Almost Never having to buy gas should go a long way towards people making their car payments. So, I'm mad that Chevy isn't advertising the Volt more. I NEVER see ads for them. I'm mad that some idiot reviewed the Volt and said it cost him $400/mile to drive and that other people are so anxious to forward such nonsense. I'm mad that people are driving their gas hogs and expecting everyone else on the planet to pay for their greediness and pollution. Wise up and buy a VOLT. The VOLT is part of the solution. We LOVE our Volt."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful