2012 Chevrolet Volt Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Automotive reviewers are impressed with the Chevrolet Volt’s powertrain. Its electric motors give it plenty of oomph from a stop, and test drivers say the Volt’s handling is on the sporty side for a hybrid. They also note that drivers will hardly notice any difference in performance when the gas engine kicks in. On the downside, they say the regenerative brakes take some getting used to.
- "Despite its complex powertrain, the Volt drives surprisingly similar to a regular car." -- Consumer Guide
- "No matter how you view this gem of GM, the Volt delivers electric car performance and unlimited gas mileage if you drive like 80 percent of America, less than 40 miles a day." -- The Detroit News
- "Its performance, handling, braking and comfort all rated high. There's no discernible difference in performance between when it's running on battery power and when the small gasoline-powered generator kicks in." -- Detroit Free Press
Acceleration and Power
The 2012 Chevrolet Volt’s powertrain consists of a lithium-ion battery, a 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. After the battery is depleted, the 83-horsepower gas engine acts as a generator for the electric motors, which send power to the Volt’s wheels. The electric powertrain makes 149 horsepower. The Volt uses a single-ratio automatic transmission, which reviewers like.
The front-wheel drive Volt gets an EPA-estimated 95/93 mpg-e (miles per gallon equivalent) city/highway on battery power only. Using only the gas engine, which requires premium fuel, the Volt gets 35/40 mpg.
Auto reviewers say the Chevrolet Volt gets up to speed fine and has plenty of power on hand. They like that the electric powertrain is quiet and smooth, although one test driver notes that the gas engine revs abruptly when it kicks in to power the car.
- "In full electric operation, in its default ‘normal’ setting, acceleration is a bit tepid only for about the first 15 feet, after which power comes in with a smooth rush. In the ‘sport’ mode, throttle response is nearly instantaneous and quite strong. When the gas engine kicks in acceleration softens slightly, but most drivers will never feel the Volt lacks for power. When the battery is depleted, the gas engine kicks on almost imperceptibly." -- Consumer Guide
- "In all-electric mode, the Volt is as quiet and smooth as any EV we've driven -- and it's still a competent vehicle when the engine-generator kicks in. The change-over from battery charge to generator power can be difficult to notice, though once you inevitably do, it may take a while to get used to the engine revving regardless of engine speed." -- Edmunds
- "Whether or not the gas engine is running, the Volt always has an EV-like demeanor. Which is to say there’s almost no waiting - and no downshifting - as it responds swiftly to throttle inputs." -- Car and Driver
- "Power builds slowly from a start, but stellar midrange torque means that keeping up with traffic - and passing slow cars on two-lane byways - is no challenge. The Volt doesn't use a traditional gearbox, instead relying on a single ratio setup that always keeps power a mere tap of the throttle away." -- Left Lane News
- "The Volt sprang forward when I pressed the accelerator. Electric motors produce power differently from gasoline engines, so the Volt felt considerably quicker and more powerful than you might expect from a 150-horsepower compact car carrying four people." -- Detroit Free Press
The Volt has two electric motors paired to a battery and a gas engine. The Volt starts out on battery power and can travel an EPA-estimated 35 miles on electric power alone. After the battery is depleted, the gas engine kicks in and acts as a generator for the electric motors, which send power to the Volt’s wheels.
The 2012 Chevy Volt comes with a power cord that plugs into a standard 120-volt wall outlet to recharge the battery. A full charge takes about 10 to 12 hours. Chevrolet also sells an optional 240-volt quick-charge home station that will charge the battery in about four hours. Test drivers like how easy the Volt is to recharge at home, as well as the low cost to charge it.
- "In Edmunds testing, we found the Volt had an electricity range of about 25-50 miles. When the battery is depleted, our testing showed the Volt gets an average of about 33 mpg. In general, the term ‘your mileage may vary’ has never been so true." -- Edmunds
- "Worried about the charging process? Don’t – it’s not the least bit intimidating. Most of us simply plugged the Volt’s cord into a 120-volt household outlet overnight. Ten hours later, it was fully charged. Cost: about $1.60." -- Car and Driver
- "If I owned one, I could probably go three months or more between stops at the gas station. If you drive fewer than 40 miles a day, you might be able to, as well." -- Detroit Free Press
- "The range extender takes away what remains the greatest impediment to battery-electric car acceptance: range anxiety, the fear of running out of juice when far from a source of electricity." -- Cars.com
Handling and Braking
Reviewers give the Volt’s ride and handling mixed reviews. While the Volt has sportier handling compared with other hybrids, its regenerative brakes take some getting used to. This is because the brake pedal pulsates when the car is stopped because the car is capturing brake friction, which it uses to recharge the battery.
- "The Chevy Volt feels slightly nose-heavy when you bend it around a corner, but it makes its moves with little body roll. Indeed, from the compliance of its ride quality to the weight and response of the steering, this Chevy Volt drives more naturally and feels more substantial than hybrids like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius." -- Edmunds
- "Steering effort is consistently light, with a fairly precise but artificial feel. Body lean is well controlled, even during fast cornering. Braking feel is fine, though there's a slight ‘let up’ just before the car comes to a stop, requiring just a bit of added brake-pedal pressure. This is due to the regenerative braking, which helps recharge the battery." -- Consumer Guide
- "Beyond its impressive powertrain, the Volt drives surprisingly well, with a reassuringly steady suspension. The electric power steering is light but direct on-center, adding weight in proportion to angle." -- Car and Driver
- "The Volt provides a drive setting that will force harder regen braking, similar to some hybrids, and it feels like the car has downshifted when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator. While eco-fficient, it's also eco-nnoying." -- The Detroit News
- "The handling is sporty, thanks to well-tuned electric power steering and a carefully placed battery pack that lowers the car's center of gravity by a couple of inches compared with conventional compact cars like the Chevrolet Cruze." -- Detroit Free Press
- "I like these brakes a lot better than the Prius’. The Volt’s pedal feels much more natural and less intrusive." -- Motor Trend