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.
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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 John (TN) on Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I was dumb enough to buy, 16900 is what they offer on trade, thought it was smart but now I see it was a bad choice. Don't make the same mistake,it's not a green car at all. Anything but."
By lkldtv (FL) on Monday, May 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car has been a great blessing to me. I have enjoyed all of the special features and quiet drives. I drive less than 40 miles a day so I usually drive solely on electric but it is fun to go on road trips. I have been across the country a couple times and I don't feel sorry paying at the pump. I took a test drive just to check the car out and fell in love, I suggest you do the same. I test drove a tesla car recently and I would love to upgrade, but for the price the volt is awesome because it has the best of both worlds."
By Steve-o (IL) on Thursday, May 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The Volt is quite the car. I commute 50 miles per day, round trip. Employer allows me to recharge during the day which worked out great during winter in central IL. Certainly this car's range is reduced in cold (and I am assuming hot) weather. Yet, even in worst of times it would go 25-30 miles on a full charge. Now getting 45+ easily during spring. Handles great, even in snow. Run-and-gunners would not get as much enjoyment from the vehicle but perhaps it may adjust driving habits. Can't think of a better car that I've owned. Now if charging stations would just be a little more popular..."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By GWTX (TX) on Friday, April 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 900overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth. Quiet. Haven't bought gas yet!"
Cons: "Nav system and voice recognition is a disaster"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I've had the car for a month and put on about 1,000 miles. I've yet to put gas in the car, so from the EV perspective it works exactly as advertised. I bought it with all the bells and whistles. The interior isn't bad. It's a bit cramped and there isn't a lot of space in the back seat. The lack of electric seat adjustments is a major negative. My wife literally has to get out of the car to adjust the seat. We trade back and forth driving the car, so we're constantly pumping the lever to raise or lower the seat. It's very inconvenient. The other complaint is that the voice recognition and navigation system is a complete train wreck. Simple instructions like "Drive Home" or "Destination Home" are impossible. If you don't know the exact command name in the list, the voice recognition is completely useless. I don't understand why I can tell my phone to "drive to bass hall" and it gives me directions to the door, but the Chevy nav system completely freaks out. Then, when it tries to send you to something ridiculous, like Baskeall, TX, (I don't think such a place exists), canceling the instructions takes several minutes. You have to wait for it to calculate the results and then talk your way through several menus before you can tell it delete the waypoint. Then it asks you which waypoint to delete (of the one available). Chevy could fix this with a software download. Let's hope they do. On the plus side, the car drives very well. It doesn't have 'power' in the traditional sense, but it really takes off. It's very smooth, nimble handling, and--of course--extremely quiet. I'm glad I bought the car and will consider the ELR when it comes out. In the meantime, though, Chevy needs to do some work on the voice commands and nav system."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Jolt (PA) on Monday, April 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great car, nice design, amazing mpg"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The Chevrolet Volt is really a great car! It really does save you money. On average people drive 900 miles in between fill ups. I would highly suggest buying a Chevy Volt!"
By tyme2par4 (NH) on Friday, April 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Silent driving, instant torque, NO MORE GAS!"
Cons: "Some controls could be better designed (climate)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love my Volt! The car handles great, it's comfortable, stylish and just all around great. Driving in silence is a welcome change from traditional cars. The Volt has technology no other car has. I drive 95% of the time on electricity. The cost to drive a Volt is a fraction of that of other cars, simply because electricity is so much cheaper than gas."