54.3 Miles On A Full Charge - 2011 Chevrolet Volt Long-Term Road Test

2011 Chevrolet Volt Long Term Road Test

2011 Chevrolet Volt: 54.3 Miles On A Full Charge

May 11, 2011


The single-charge range record for our 2011 Chevrolet Volt has fallen. A group of us with longer commutes have been vying to be the first to crack the 50-mile mark. Now we'll have to pick another goal.

I set the bar early on just after we bought our Volt, going 45.6 miles before the engine kicked on. That stood for a few weeks until Kelly Toepke took the lead with 47.0 miles on her trip home.

Last week, Dan Frio spent a full week driving the Volt, determined to be the first to crack 50 miles. All four of his runs were good, over 45 miles apiece, but he didn't quite get there. He did succeed in besting Kelly, however, inching into the lead with a 47.2-mile best effort.

Today I was in the Volt, and I got a late start, leaving at 4:00 pm. Anything after 3:00 pm sets me up for horrible traffic, as I live over 50 miles away. I usually work an East Coast schedule to get out ahead of everyone else, but a late meeting sealed my fate.

All of this worked in my favor in terms of Volt efficiency. Traffic was slow, but there were no accidents and the freeway never quite stopped.

The predicted range indicator started off at 43 miles, which didn't bode well. I chose to drive the car in "L" the entire time to maximize regenerative braking energy recovery. As in the Nissan Leaf "Bitter End" test, I ran with the AC off and the windows cracked, though I did allow myself the luxury of the lowest fan speed.

For the first 40 miles traffic was dithering between 15 and 45 mph, and I simply went with the flow, trying to stay in lanes that were moving smoothest. The use of "L" range allowed me to bleed off speed without touching the brakes when things bunched up.

Traffic only started to ease up and begin moving at 55 mph in the faster lanes when I got within 10 miles of home, the point at which I was getting close to Frio's record. Not to be denied, I drove those last few miles at 50 mph, running along with a furniture delivery truck and a couple of semis in the right-hand lanes.

You see the result above: 54.3 miles in a real-world situation. Slow-and-go traffic is apparently good for the Volt.

Anyone for 55 miles? How about 60 miles?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 5,781 miles

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