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
Drawing its name from the unique Voltec propulsion system that combines an electric motor with a gasoline engine/generator, the 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric plug-in hybrid represents a new twist on the hybrid-car theme. Unlike the Toyota Prius hybrid, which uses its gasoline engine to power the car, the Volt runs purely on electric current. Once its battery has depleted (after about 35 to 40 miles), the 2012 Chevrolet Volt's gasoline engine is then used to recharge the batteries and run the generator, extending the Volt's range an additional 344 miles. This system also has its advantages over the all-electric Nissan LEAF, which once it runs out of juice, basically is dead in the water. With its cool and elegant styling, and even more cool and elegant interior, the 2012 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid not only makes a statement about your environmental consciousness, it also says something about your good taste and strong sense of style.
If you're worried a pure electric car won't be able to satisfy your distance requirements before needing to be recharged, the 2012 Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric sedan will put your worries to rest. Its 35-mile electric range should be all you need to get back and forth to work, and anything beyond the Volt's battery range is handled by the gasoline engine/generator.
Buying a 2012 Chevy Volt is an expensive proposition, even with the federal and state tax breaks. And, due to a limited-production run of 45,000 vehicles, finding a Volt may prove elusive. If you just want long range, good fuel economy and low emissions, a VW Golf TDI or Toyota Prius is cheaper and more readily available.
The 2012 Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric car receives a few new features this year, including GM's MyLink that allows Bluetooth streaming for music, as well as voice activation for certain smart phones. Also new is a passive-entry system for all four doors and liftgate, color-keyed wheel accents for the new 17-inch wheels, and Turn-by-Turn navigation through the OnStar telematics system.
Driving Impressions To ensure the 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric hybrid retained the traditional fun-to-drive Chevy DNA, engineers used the same platform that serves the compact Chevy Cruze. While we wouldn't call the...Volt's driving dynamics spirited, its conventional ride and handling don't offer up any surprises. The Volt's electric motor delivers a big dose of torque right from the get-go, giving the 2012 Chevy Volt the ability to sprint quickly from a standing stop. The absence of engine noise is a bit disconcerting at first, but you'll soon grow used to the deafening silence. The Volt's capable suspension is tuned for a smooth, soft ride and its energy-saving electric power steering is decently weighted for good feedback and response. The brake pedal feels a bit odd when first applying it, a feeling attributed to the super-efficient regenerative circuitry on its 4-wheel disc brakes. Except for the slight engine sound and lighted dash icon that changes from battery to fuel pump, the transition from pure electric to range-extending gasoline mode is almost transparent. 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 smart phone? 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.
Taking a page from the Apple computer school of design, the 2012 Chevy Volt hybrid electric's interior is covered in bright white and dark accented plastics and touch-sensitive controls for the audio and climate-control functions. Two 7-inch LCD screens replace the traditional analog gauges, with one serving as the instrument cluster (speedometer, fuel, and range gauges) and the other mounted atop the center stack displaying the electric motor/battery operation as well as the available navigation screen. Black cloth seats and white interior accents come standard, but leather seats are available with white, red, green, black or light gold-colored accents. The rear seats are a 2-person setup, with bucket-style seating divided by a center console housing the 5.5-foot, 435-pound lithium-ion battery. Rear-seat passengers have a fairly comfortable perch, although the Volt's sloping roofline requires a reminder to duck your head low before attempting to enter or exit the car.
With the goal of total operating efficiency in mind, the 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric hybrid sedan's design team burned the midnight oil to create a shape that could cheat the wind while delighting the eyes. Up front, the Volt is fitted with a rounded nose, closed grille opening and steeply raked windshield. Sharp edges along the Volt's rear fenders also help slice through the wind, as does the functional rear hatch spoiler. When totaled together, the 2012 Chevy Volt hybrid electric car's parts form one of the most aerodynamic cars in GM's long and storied history. Even the Volt's wheel/tire combo is designed for maximum efficiency, rolling on Goodyear Fuel Max low-rolling-resistance tires and ultra-lightweight wheels, each weighing a mere 17.8 pounds.
In base form, the 2012 Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric hybrid comes with a more comprehensive feature set than just about 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, and an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on its battery pack and associated electrics. Other standard features include air conditioning, keyless access, power mirror/locks/windows, 110-volt charge cord, color-touch AM/FM/CD radio and 17-inch wheels. Standard safety features include electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and eight airbags. You'll also get standard five years of OnStar and USB connectivity.
It's hard to call an options list a list when there are only two packages 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 rearview camera and front/rear parking sensors. Stand-alone features include an energy-saving Bose sound system (it's 40-percent lighter and uses 50-percent less energy than a conventional sound system), MyLink, and a navigation system with 30 GB hard-drive music storage and Sirius NavTraffic. 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, color fans can choose to have their Volt's black wheel inserts replaced with color-keyed inserts.
The 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric's propulsion system consists of an electric drive unit that makes 149 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, a 16kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack and a 1.4-liter/84-horsepower in-line 4-cylinder 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 to four hours 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.
1.4-liter in-line 4 with AC synchronous electric motor/generator and 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack
111kW/149 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 0-4,800 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 Willy on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Impressive engineering & creature comforts"
Cons: "Access & egress somewhat difficult for older folks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Very impressive engineering. Very comfortable with only two things missing: grab bar over the front passenger seat & quite low for access & egress. My wife has osteoarthritis & this makes it difficult for her to get in & out. The car handles very well in icy conditions & no problems in snow-packed roads. Still averaging over 60 mpg even though the gas engine runs frequently when the temps are colder than 32°. Back seat is a little short on leg room."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Tominftl on Saturday, February 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,450overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage uses mostly electric"
Cons: "Cramped interior, no air AC vents for rear seats."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Love the ride. Handles wonderfully. The major drawback that I see is that the headroom is lacking especially entering and exiting the car. I wish it had a little bit more interior room and I would also like to see it seat five people. No airconditioning vents in the rear which is a major drawback on a hot summers day. I use very little gas driving locally. I do love the hold feature which allows me to drive across alligator Alley to Naples on gas and then go back to electric. Despite having no lumbar feature or power seats most people can get pretty comfortable in this car. Would also like to see it have a little bit larger gas tank so if I decided to take a vacation out of the state I wouldn't have to fill up so many times. I'm leasing this car and my lease is up in September 2015 so I can't wait to see with the new Volt looks like, if it's a bigger version I will definitely lease or buy another one."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By havityourway2 on Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun, excellent build quality, energy efficiency"
Cons: "Can't think of any..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Chevy Volt is a well built American made car that has exceeded our expectations for performance (its quick and extremely energy efficient), comfort and build quality. Our Volt has used about one gallon of gas and 12 dollars in electricity over the first month of ownership. We drive the car just about every day. Kudos to the GM engineers and auto workers of Michigan for building one of the most fuel efficient, fun and reliable vehicles available in America!"
By superborg on Saturday, February 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great car to drive and safe"
Cons: "charging stations are not in the GUI gas is"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Why do you buy a car? How does it preform? What it is or will be worth investment? Fun or pleasure or work? If these are your desires do not ever buy a car. Cars are not an investment and will never bring back what you paid for it. Cars ware out some quicker than others even the best car. Now about my Volt, I did not buy it for an investment but what a car should be bought for is how much will it cost me to keep it up for the time I will own it. Thus far over 100 miles to a gallon of gas and yes I expect to buy gas as needed. Comfortable to drive, easy on the eyes and the Voice Commands keep me from touching the Stack buttons. Change a radio station by voice only, make a call and many other things without taking my eyes of the road. your old style changing station the one you plug up will be in the past soon check out http://web.ornl.gov EV wireless charging. I commend GM for the first and only car of its kind as in anything new there will be problems, but in time it will get better. meanwhile I will enjoy this car as it is."
By Mothergoose on Saturday, January 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun, quiet, luxurious, electric/gas, sustainable"
Cons: "Would like a rear wiper on the hatch"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I honestly am excited every day when it's time to drive my Volt. To cruise around on pure electric -- QUIETLY -- is a feeling like none other. It feels as though it is floating down the road. The Volt is a solid, heavy car. When in the midst of violent winds in storms, the car holds its own without deviating from the road (unlike smaller, lighter-weight cars that get battered side to side from the winds). Its weight has also proven to be good in snowy conditions, which makes a difference in retaining control. The interior is very comfortable. Love the heated seats! They are activated by the external temperature but can easily be controlled and adjusted. People who have ridden in the back seat have been surprised at the roominess and leg room. Having a hatchback is wonderful for loading groceries, and the ability to fold down the back seats to accommodate larger items makes this car so much more versatile than a regular sedan. Plugging the car in for charging is a no-brainer. It works completely on my 110 outdoor outlet. The mileage obtained on one charge is relevant to outdoor temperatures. In the summer, I'm able to get between 46-50 miles on one charge. However, the winter charge rate drops to between 28-32 -- dependent on if it is zero degrees or 32 and also whether the heated seats, heater, rear defroster, front defroster, etc. are all activated. That being said, I typically use my car the most for around town driving, which allows me to drive on all-electric. I've currently owned the car now for almost 2 years with 6,200 miles on it -- and have only used 18 gallons of gasoline! That makes my MPG over 250 mpg. But what I DO love is when I drive out of town with it, I have gasoline that powers the generator that powers the battery. So, I'm able to drive completely across the U.S. if I want and not have battery range anxiety as people with all-electric cars do. Or better yet, come to a complete stop because they've run out of battery and cannot find a charger in their vicinity. It's the only completely versatile car made so far, and I would urge everyone to try it. Its luxury rivals any other car on the highway today, as does the smooth ride. Bose makes a wonderful sound system for music and Sirius, and of course the automatic telephone answering system and calling system is great. Navigation system is a bonus, as is the back-up camera and the car sensors that beep to tell you that you are too close to an object. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that especially when parallel parking. A jack accomodates an M3P player. The side mirrors are heated, too, and THAT makes life wonderful in the winter. Are there any downsides, you wonder? There is only one item I would request of GM: I would like a rear windshield wiper on the hatchback window just to make my vision clearer in the rain and snow. The bottom line for me is that I am now NOT contributing to all the nastiness being spewed into the air from traditional gasoline engine cars with exhaust, and I feel I am doing my part in caring for our Earth's atmosphere. Running on electric is much cheaper than gasoline. I've seen an increase of only $5-10 on my monthly electric bill. If you convert that into gasoline, we're talking maybe 3 gallons at today's prices. Can you drive a month on 3 gallons? Ummm, no. Oh -- I forgot to mention that it has lots of get-up and go!!! The initial price seems high, but remember that you receive a federal tax credit which is helpful at the year's end. But you are also receiving a lot of car for that price. I urge you to test-drive a Volt and see for yourself."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By DaveConnor on Thursday, January 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Completely thrilled with this vehicle. Bought gas last JUNE. Getting well over 200mpg. Stealth quiet drive. Absolutely zero problems with this vehicle."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful