2011 Chevrolet Volt: Cold Comfort
February 22, 2011
Range anxiety is really not an issue in the Volt, since the gasoline engine kicks in when the battery has run its course. Range envy is another matter. I developed a bad case of it over the weekend.
My driving pattern over the last three days -- a 28-mile one-way freeway commute, around-town driving to the market and breakfast, the use of climate control and occasional forays into the Volt's sport mode -- got me lackluster electric-only range of around 30 miles. Nothing approaching the car's 46.4-mile best.
So for my commute to Santa Monica this morning, I was determined to better my performance. I read the Volt's onboard energy efficiency tips before heading out. The car is most efficient at speeds below 50 mph. I couldn't drive 50 on the 405 without being honked into oblivion, but I kept my speed at 62 or so for most of the drive. The car's climate-control system is most efficient in fan-only mode, and Chevrolet recommends using the Volt's heated seats rather than running the heater itself. Done. It was just 47 degrees outside, but I skipped the heater and turned up the fanny-warming driver's seat.
As you can see from the Volt's energy-information screen at the top of this entry, I was doing pretty well -- driving efficiently and making the most (or least) of the climate-control system.
The result: much better range. I arrived at Edmunds' office with 13 miles to spare, meaning I was on track to get 41 miles of electric-only range from the car. The collateral damage: I had no sensation in my fingertips. The next time I drive the Volt on a wintry morning, I'm either bringing along gloves or resigning myself to losing the range war.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 2,530 miles