2011 Chevrolet Volt Long Term Road Test


2011 Chevrolet Volt: "Fuel" Economy Update

February 01, 2011

2011_volt_1600_chargecord_damp.jpg

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is unlike any of our other long term test cars, so it doesn't quite fit into our usual Fuel Economy Update format.

It's of course a plug-in hybrid that runs on electricity for a time before switching to gasoline, and this means there are three important things to track: electricity consumption in kilowatt-hours per 100 miles (kWh/100), electric range in miles and the familiar gasoline fuel economy in mpg.

Our Coulomb charger allows us to measure how much electricity we put into the thing, and a readout on the Volt's center stack tells us how far that charge took us before the gas engine lit up. From these we can directly calculate electricity consumption, and by subtracting the electric miles from the total miles driven we can back-out our gasoline-propelled miles. From there we do the usual thing and divide gasoline miles by gallons of dino juice added to calculate gasoline mpg.

So here we go. Here's our first result, presented along with a handful of our other cars for reference.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Best

Worst

Average

Electricity (kwh/100 mi)

26.2

46.6

33.1

Electric Range (miles)

46.4

26.7

36.9

Gasoline (mpg)

39.0

31.5

34.0

'04 Toyota Prius (mpg)

63.5

26.7

40.9

'10 Ford Fusion Hybrid (mpg)

37.7

18.3

31.7

'11 Mazda 2 Touring (mpg)

36.6

21.2

31.7

Other Stats:

  • Total miles monitored: 1560
  • Gasoline miles: 1078.5
  • Electric miles: 481.5
  • Utility Factor: 31%

Things to remember, especially if you're doing math in your head:

  • Lower is better when you're looking at electricity consumption in kWh per 100 miles
  • The three normal vehicles can only be compared to the Volt's results on gasoline
  • Volt requires 91-octane premium, the others don't
  • The two electricity-related numbers are stand-alone figures. It's merely a coincidence that all three of the Volt's attributes settled into the mid thirties.

And here's how all of this compares to EPA ratings...

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Best

Worst

Average

EPA

Electricity (kwh/100 mi)

26.2

46.6

33.1

36

Electric Range (miles)

46.4

26.7

36.9

35

Gasoline (mpg)

39.0

31.5

34.0

37

'04 Toyota Prius (mpg)

63.5

26.7

40.9

46

'10 Ford Fusion Hybrid (mpg)

37.7

18.3

31.7

39

'11 Mazda 2 Touring (mpg)

36.6

21.2

31.7

32

Interestingly, our average electricity consumption and average electric range beat the EPA ratings. The same cannot be said for gasoline fuel economy, which falls a bit short. It's worth noting that no long road trips have yet been made in the Volt. Our Volt only has 1,600 miles on it. We're just getting started.

So far, our Volt's battery/electric performance seems to be much more variable than its gasoline consumption, this despite local temperatures that are mild with modest swings from high to low.

Once we have a bit more data we'll take a stab at translating these results into cost per mile. As you can imagine, that figure is tricky because it's highly dependent on local utility rates and the mix of gasoline and electric driving one does. Such factors will differ massively with individual circumstances.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,618 miles

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Chevrolet Volt in VA is:

$100 per month*
* Explanation
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