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 Dan on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Makes driving fun again. VERY solid and reliable!"
Cons: "Nothing to really complain about."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Tried it out of curiosity and was so impressed we dumped our 1997 Explorer for it when the Alternator died. I was a GM hater until this car. 2.5 years into owning it and I still look forward to driving anywhere in it. We are saving about $300 a month on gas. Now paying only $30 a month for electricity and maybe fill its 9 gallon tank every 5 weeks. Data shows I go 1450 miles on average per 9 gallon tank. That's pretty good considering we drive have driven 3 cross country trips on gas alone with it so that 1450 would be higher with out those trips. Once you drive electric drive, you will hate pure gas cars. This is NO PRIUS! It's more like a sports car. We will replace our Expedition, also a 1997, with a Volt someday and be a two Volt family."
By Tominftl on Saturday, March 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have a few gripes about my volt. 1. Rear seat legroom is a joke. 2. No a/c vent in backseat. 3. Backup camera not vivid like the Toyota. 4. No power seats or lumbar available Positives are: 1. Doesn't use gas very often 2. Great Bose stereo system 3. Nice styling. Aerodynamic. 4. Gets good gas mileage when using gas."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By volt lover on Sunday, January 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, fun to own"
Cons: "4 seats biggest and only down fall"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"It is a drivers car. it handles like a sports car, yet easy to drive. I find the seats very comfortable, some find them too firm. The car is responsive and easy to handle. It has cool features of a high end car, yet is affordable. The price is a little high for most, but if you add the gas savings into the monthly payments, it worked out 52.00 better a month for me. I would recommend this car to the energy minded and the complete opposite minded, this is one car that anyone can agree with."
11 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By iceandsnow on Saturday, December 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, comfortable, versatile, economical"
Cons: "rear seat room, poor marketing of product"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've been driving for several decades and I suffer from Goldilocks syndrome, finding a vehicle I look forward to driving daily. I like the ability to solar charge my car at home while none of the range anxiety the pure electrics produce. It is a pleasure to drive, has the perfect blend of form and function. I haven't owned a GM vehicle in nearly 35 years, this brought me back. Amazing car, hope they make an CUV or SUV soon."
12 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By nutsforcars on Monday, December 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "mileage, technology that works, unique."
Cons: ""A" pillars are a bit wide."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had no intention of buying this car till I drove one. I had seen a few of them but they never really appealed to me so didn't consider them to be "my" type of car, and I've had a lot of new cars. Why Chevy doesn't promote this car more is a mystery to me. I can honestly say after 6 months and 2,500 I am more impressed with it each time I get in and out it. Have Nav with backup camera, Bose, rear park sensors, leather, heated seats and chrome wheels and more. This car has rock solid build quality, good driving/ riding qualities, and is really a technological marvel. I lucked out and bought at a time when they offered no interest for 72 mos. and with the federal and stated tax credits, well that was "icing on the cake". Love the smart phone app which allows status notifications of charging,tire pressures miles driven and other things. Standard remote start is great in the cold weather. I think the people at Chevy thought of just about everything to make this an outstanding vehicle. Still waiting to give the car a test in the fairly heavy snow but talk on the forums is positive."
17 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By telveer on Monday, November 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "extended range. smooth electric propulsion. remote"
Cons: "lack of 5th seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"When I replaced by 15 year old commuter car with the Chevy Volt, cost saving was not a factor at all. I purchased the Chevy Volt because it was a technology marvel and perfectly suites my requirements. Now, more than a year later, I could not be happier with my purchase. There is absolutely no buyers remorse. How could you - when the car went 13500 miles on just 12.5 gallons of gasoline and about $400 in electricity? And maintenance? I rotated the tires at 7500 miles (free by dealer). I still have 35% oil life remaining. And as per the manual, I don't have to do any other maintenance (except tire rotations) for the next 30,000 or so miles! The car is fun to drive. Its not a sports car (0 to 60 in 8 seconds) but in local traffic, I can be far ahead of other cards because of the silent 150hp + 280 lb-ft instant electric torque. Many people think the battery is expensive and needs to be replaced every 3 years but the car comes with 8 year/a 100K mile traction battery warranty. In fact, all the electric drive components carry the same warranty! And battery technology 8 years (should the need to replace arise - its not like the battery will just die after 8 years!) will be much better to what it is today. And batteries will also be a lot cheaper 8 years from now. The only limitation I see in the volt is the lack of a 5th seat. Otherwise, this is the best electric/hybrid you can get."
21 people out of 32 found this review helpful