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 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