2012 Chevrolet Volt Base
(Hybrid 1-speed Direct Drive)
What our ratings include
Date Driven: 11/2/2010 (2011 model)
On electricity alone, the Volt accelerates reasonably well, but it's a couple of tenths faster when the battery runs down and the gasoline engine starts helping. Either way, there's enough basic performance here for most people.
While its limits aren't high, the Volt does feel maneuverable and in control during cornering. The electric power steering isn't particularly communicative, but steering response is sure and it feels steady on long, straight highways.
The Volt's ride strikes a good balance between softness and control. It feels just about right for a daily driver.
In electric mode the Volt is very quiet, except for a little road noise at freeway speeds. In gasoline-hybrid mode, noise is subdued but sometimes the engine revs high at odd times to bank electricity for the next acceleration.
Good driving position. The instrument panel is a video screen with useful, easily understood information. The buttons on the center console are touch-sensitive, which is cool but frustrating as they all look alike.
Forward and side visibility are excellent, but our car's headlights were a bit weak. A vertical peek-a-boo window helps improve the view straight out the back, but the rear roof pillars impede rear three-quarter visibility somewhat.
Seat Access & Space
Plenty of space in the front half of the Volt's comfortable cockpit, but a low roofline makes the rear seat a tight fit in terms of knee- and headroom. The rear seats only two because of the battery, but the buckets are comfy.
Cargo & Storage
Here again, the Volt's low roofline exacts a price, as a Volt holds about half as much as a Prius. Furthermore, the gap between the rear buckets represents a hole in a wall that might otherwise keep items from slipping through.
Our Volt was an early production sample, so there were a couple of minor exterior panel gaps. Assembly quality looks good inside, especially if you look past the design of the optional interior graphics.