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: 6.5
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt electric plug-in hybrid represents a unique twist on the hybrid-car theme. Unlike the Toyota Prius Hybrid, which uses its gasoline engine to power the car and the electric drive as a supplement, the Volt runs purely on electric current. Once its battery pack is depleted (after 25 to 50 miles), the Volt's gasoline engine kicks on to run a generator, powering the electric motors and helping recharge the batteries. This extends the Volt's range an additional 300 miles or more. With its cool and elegant styling, and even more cool and elegant interior, the 2013 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid not only makes a statement about your environmental consciousness, it also says something about your good taste and appreciation for style.
If you're worried a pure electric car won't be able to satisfy your distance requirements before needing to be recharged, the 2013 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric sedan is the answer: It carries a charging station around with it, in the form of its 1.4-liter gasoline engine.
Buying a 2013 Chevy Volt is an expensive proposition, even with the federal and state tax breaks. If you just want long range, good fuel economy and low emissions, a VW Golf TDI or Toyota Prius is cheaper.
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt gets a new Hold mode in its drive selection to conserve battery charge, and a new no-cost-option low-emissions package qualifies the Volt for single-occupancy HOV lanes in California and New York. New features include lane-departure and collision-warning systems, and GPS-enabled navigation.
Driving Impressions The 2013 Chevy Volt's electric motor delivers a big dose of torque right from the get-go, letting the car sprint away quickly from a standing start. The absence of engine...noise is a bit disconcerting at first, and when it does kick in, the way the engine's revs don't track road speed can seem odd, but you'll soon get used to the quirks. We can't call the Volt's driving dynamics "spirited," but the Cruz-based platform works well. The electric power steering is quite well-weighted and responsive, though the regenerative braking feels a bit unnatural through the pedal. This year, the EPA raised its estimate of the Volt's electric-only range from 35 to 38 miles, but obviously, actual range varies hugely depending on circumstances. The new Hold mode is useful, for example, when driving on a freeway heading into the city, where you'll want the full electric charge available.
DELAYED START AND DEPARTURE TIME MODE
Using information supplied by your local electricity provider, you can program the Volt to start recharging its battery pack when rates are at their lowest. And if you tell it when you plan to leave in the morning, the car will automatically schedule the charging process to ensure it's ready.
VOLT SMARTPHONE APP
The OnStar MyLink app lets you check your Volt's battery level, tire pressure, available electric range, lock/unlock the doors and start the A/C system to pre-cool the interior, all from your smartphone. You can control charging rate and get a text or e-mail alert when the battery is "full."
Taking a page from the Apple computer school of design, the 2013 Chevy Volt'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 in the center stack displaying the electric motor/battery operation as well as the available navigation screen. The cool-looking touch-sensitive buttons are a little tricky to identify and operate. The rear seat takes only two occupants and their head- and legroom are snug.
With the goal of total operating efficiency, the Chevrolet Volt's design team crafted a body shape that could cheat the wind while delighting the eyes. Up front are a rounded nose, closed grille opening and steeply raked windshield. Sharp edges along the Volt's rear fenders help slice through the wind, as does the functional rear hatch spoiler. This is one of the most aerodynamic cars in GM's long and storied history. Even the Volt's wheels and tires are designed for maximum efficiency; the ultra-lightweight wheels (17.8 pounds) mount Goodyear Fuel Max low-rolling-resistance tires.
The base 2013 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid comes with a more comprehensive feature set than just about any other Chevy 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 and eight airbags. You also get USB connectivity and five years of OnStar.
For 2013, most Chevy Volt options are grouped into a few packages, including Comfort (heated front seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel), Premium Trim (adds leather seat trim and a rear center armrest), and two Enhanced Safety packages, one including rear park assist and rearview camera and the other adding front park assist and the new lane-departure and collision-warning systems. Stand-alone options 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.
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt's propulsion system consists of an electric drive unit that makes 149 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, a 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 1.4-liter/84-horsepower 4-cylinder "range-extender." That engine takes over when battery charge is depleted – normally after 25-50 miles of driving – and generates on-the-fly electricity for another 300-340 miles. Recharging takes 10-16 hours using a standard 110V outlet or about four hours on a 240V dedicated unit. The Volt has four operating modes. Normal is the most efficient, Sport provides more direct accelerator response, Mountain helps the battery cope with extended steep grades and Hold runs only on the gas engine/generator, conserving battery charge for when it may be wanted (in town, for instance).
AC synchronous electric motor/generator
16kWh lithium-ion battery pack
1.4-liter inline-4 (drives generator only)
111kW/149 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 0-4,800 rpm
EPA projected full-charge range: 38 miles (all-electric), 344 miles (gasoline range-extender only)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 93 MPGe (all-electric, mpg equivalent), 37 mpg (on gasoline engine/generator)
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts right at $40,000 and loading one with leather, navigation, Bose audio, and the rearview camera and park-assist package will bump that figure to $45,000. Even when you factor in the potential $7,500 federal tax credit, that pricing limits the Volt's appeal. Leasing may be one way to make the payments manageable. Although Chevrolet projects a full recharge will run only about $1.50 per day, the cost of a dedicated 240V home charger to replace the standard 110V cable will run $490 plus installation. As with the Nissan Leaf EV, it's difficult to assess how well the Volt will retain its value over time, although we expect the 2013 Chevrolet Volt to remain on par with the Leaf, but far below the values for the Toyota Prius and VW Golf TDI.
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."
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."
5 people out of 6 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."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful