2011 Chevy Volt: A Long Weekend Away From the Cord
July 29, 2011
The real, and obvious, beauty of the 2011 Chevy Volt, is the range extender feature. There are some crazy people who are upset about this because the Volt isn't a real EV. Fine. Whatever. It's not. But you know what it is? A real car.
I had the Volt for a quick three-days-away-from-the-office pseudo vacation and, like most Volt owners, I did not vacation in a place that had convenient access to a charging port. I was looking forward to this time in part because I'd never spent much time with the gasoline motor of the Volt. Sure a few minutes here and there, a quick run up the freeway now and again, but this would turn out to be three solid days with no charge.
How'd it go?
Well. Extremely well.
In total I put 258.4 miles on the Volt, only 27 of them off of the fully charged battery. Sure, without the battery there's a little less zip, but the car is still pleasant to be in and not offensively slow. It does have some issues (noise, engine strain) cruising on highways with a 75 mph speed limit too.
The only annoying thing is the disconnect between the accelerator pedal and the noises of the gasoline motor. (Just to refresh, when the battery's dead, the gas motor works as a generator spinning metal near magnets to make electricity. ) So what you end up with is a gasoline engine that revs completely independently from the actions of your foot. Decelerating while the engine revs go up is really awkward and slightly troubling. Still, after it doesn't unintentionally accelerate anywhere, you get almost used to it.
Oh, the best part? Nearly 40 MPG driving like a guy who likes to drive (and usually gets well below EPA ratings) and not some jerk in a hybrid. There are full-throttle events, twisty roads, 75 mph freeway runs and too much crappy traffic to mention represented here. Riswick would certainly have managed better. I'm happy with 38.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line