Chevrolet calls the Volt an extended-range electric vehicle, but
technically it is still a hybrid, as it has both an electric motor and
a gas engine to power the wheels. It is, however, a very different
hybrid from the Toyota Prius. In fact, it feels light years ahead of
that car, which became indelibly associated with the term hybrid.
Although hypermilers will enjoy watching the gauge to limit hard
acceleration and maximize regeneration, you don't have to exhibit any
particular care when driving the car. It responds the same to the
accelerator whether it is operating in battery or gasoline mode. When
the engine is on, it causes a slight vibration and noise, which is
only really noticeable at low speeds. Electric operation is, of
course, smooth and quiet.
Chevrolet did an excellent job with the Volt's power train, mixing
substantial electric-mode range with a gas engine, leading to
potentially outstanding fuel economy. Although the different drive
modes seem a little complicated, the car's normal drive feel is even
better than many gas engine cars. The power steering is well-tuned,
and the battery helps the handling. The uneven braking is the main
problem area for performance tech.
With standard navigation, Bluetooth phone, and a Bose stereo, the
cabin of the Volt features first-rate electronics. The associated
smartphone app offers good connectivity and remote operation. The only
area where the Volt is lacking is in driver assistance features. Its
rearview camera is excellent, but it doesn't offer adaptive cruise
control or a blind-spot detection system.
Chevrolet put a few nice exterior design elements into the Volt, but
seems to be attempting to make the car not stand out. Its front end
looks particularly conventional. The hatchback is a practical design
feature, but the lack of a rear bench seat limits passenger room. The
touch buttons on the interface are a neat innovation and the onscreen
menus look nice, but Chevrolet could have put some more thought into a
In any mode, the Volt feels heavy, due to the fact it weighs 3,781
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