Chevrolet Volt Performance
Although it’s a plug-in hybrid, many reviewers say that the 2013 Chevrolet Volt is more fun to drive than other electric and hybrid cars. While most test drivers agree that the Volt has plenty of power and confident handling, a few critics say that the Volt’s regenerative brakes take some getting used to.
- "The Volt's appeal extends farther than just its powertrain. From the compliance of its ride quality to the weight and response of the steering, the Volt drives more naturally and feels more substantial than hybrids like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius." -- Edmunds
- "Despite its complex powertrain, the Volt drives surprisingly similar to a regular car." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
- "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 (2011)
Acceleration and Power
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt’s powertrain consists of a lithium-ion battery, a 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. The gas engine makes 84 horsepower, and acts as a generator for the electric motors, which send power to the Volt’s wheels. The electric powertrain makes 149 horsepower. The EPA reports that the 2013 Volt gets 98 mpg-e (miles per gallon-equivalent) when it runs on electric power alone. When the gas engine kicks in, the Volt gets 35/40 mpg city/highway.
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 more than one test driver mentions that since the gas engine acts as a generator, it acts independently of throttle inputs, and might rev on its own in order to charge the battery.
- "The 2013 Chevrolet Volt is surprisingly rewarding to drive. It accelerates quickly from a standstill on an effortless wave of torque typical of electric power, and behaves like a more potent hybrid when the all-electric mode runs out." -- Edmunds
- "Particularly in all-electric mode, the Volt is impressively quiet, especially at around-town speeds. When the gas engine kicks in, it adds a background moan that periodically varies regardless of road speed." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
- "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 (2011)
- "I didn't even notice when the little 1.4-liter engine that powers the generator turned on. There was no discernible difference in performance when the Volt switched power sources." -- Detroit Free Press (2011)
- "Quick and nippy in traffic, it proceeds with a silent, oozing surge of acceleration, like a downsized Rolls- Royce Phantom" -- Motor Trend (2011)
When fully charged, the 2013 Volt can travel on electric power alone for an EPA-estimated 38 miles, which is three more miles than the 2012 model. A Hold drive mode is new for 2013, which allows drivers to save the Volt’s EV range to maximize efficiency on their commutes. If the Volt’s battery is depleted (or Hold mode is selected), the gas engine kicks in and acts as a generator for the electric motors.
The 2013 Chevy Volt comes with a power cord that plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet, which can fully charge the Volt in 10 to 16 hours. An optional 240-volt quick-charge home station can 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.
- "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." -- Car and Driver (2011)
- "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 (2011)
- "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 (2011)
Handling and Braking
Reviewers give the Volt’s ride and handling mixed reviews. Many say that the 2013 Volt drives fairly well, with a balanced suspension that lets the Volt corner with ease. However, one critic says the steering feels artificial. The Volt’s regenerative brakes are also up for debate. One reviewer notes that they feel better than those found in the Toyota Prius, while others say that they are “touchy” and take time to get used to. However, this complaint is common to most hybrid cars, which use regenerative brakes to help recharge the battery.
- "The brake pedal can also be quite touchy and difficult to modulate, though stopping distances are good." -- 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." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
- "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 (2011)
- "The brakes, which include regenerative braking to help push more electricity into the battery pack, take a little getting used to." -- The Detroit News (2011)
- "I like these brakes a lot better than the Prius’. The Volt’s pedal feels much more natural and less intrusive." -- Motor Trend (2011)
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