2011 Chevrolet Volt Review

Pros & Cons

  • Low monthly fuel cost in normal driving
  • useful 300-mile maximum range
  • appealing standard features
  • high-tech cabin.
  • Questionable value
  • small backseat for two people only
  • touchy brakes
  • no power front seats
  • home charger is a necessity.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$5,741 - $8,831

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2011 Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid is arguably the most fuel-efficient car on the market, but it's pricey for what you get.

Vehicle overview

So what exactly is the 2011 Chevrolet Volt? It's a question we get all the time. A confusing array of claims and rumors have been swirling around this car since it debuted as a concept a few years back, so we're not surprised that people aren't clear on what the Volt is all about.

Here's the long and short of it: The Volt is a four-seat, four-door "series-parallel plug-in hybrid" hatchback with a lithium-ion battery pack that can power the car's 149-horsepower (111-kilowatt) electric motor by itself for an estimated 40 miles in the city. After that, the gasoline-powered inline-4 engine primarily supplies electricity to the motor for as many as 300 additional miles. All told, the Volt is the most advanced hybrid to date and quite possibly the most fuel-efficient car you will be able to buy.

We say "quite possibly" because you can't measure the Volt's fuel economy in any standard fashion. It all depends on how you drive. Suppose you have a 20-mile round-trip commute, and you plug in your Volt every night when you get home (a full charge requires as few as 3 hours). Congratulations! Your fuel economy is infinity, because you'll never run the battery pack down all the way. But if you have a 100-mile commute, you'll be driving at least 60 miles a day under gasoline power, so you'll have to refuel on a regular basis. And in an Edmunds fuel economy test of a Volt with its battery depleted, the car returned only 31.4 mpg in mixed driving. That's far below the typical fuel economy provided by regular hybrid vehicles.

Obviously, how far you routinely drive will play a key role in how thrifty the Volt will be. We think most potential owners will be able to take advantage of its electric range. And electricity costs for recharging are but a fraction for the equivalent amount of gasoline. What's not clear is whether those savings are worth what you'll have to pay at the dealership. Even with a $7,500 federal tax credit, a base Volt will still cost $33,500 -- and that's without the home charging station that's essentially mandatory for a plug-in hybrid like the Volt. There's also a strong likelihood that dealers will try to gouge early customers with sky-high markups.

Still, there is no denying the Volt's technological promise. Most importantly, it has the ability to keep on going when its battery runs down (say, on a road trip), whereas an all-electric vehicle like 2011 Nissan's Leaf does not. If you want an intriguing yet practical taste of a greener automotive future, the 2011 Chevy Volt might be just what the General ordered.

2011 Chevrolet Volt models

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is a midsize five-door hatchback sedan with seating for four.

Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition, remote ignition, automatic climate control, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, six-way manual front seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth, OnStar, a navigation system with touchscreen, voice controls and real-time traffic, and a six-speaker Bose stereo with CD/DVD player, auxiliary audio jack, iPod/USB interface and 30GB of digital music storage.

The Premium Trim package adds leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated front seats. The Rear Camera and Park Assist package adds a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.

2011 Highlights

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is Chevy's much-anticipated new plug-in battery/gasoline hybrid, featuring an electric-only mode with a range of up to 40 miles.

Performance & mpg

The front-wheel-drive 2011 Volt is primarily powered by an electric motor rated at 149 hp (111 kilowatts) and 273 pound-feet of torque. This motor draws power from a lithium-ion battery pack until the battery charge is 70 percent depleted. At that point, the Volt's 1.4-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine, which requires premium fuel, comes to life as a replacement power source for the electric motor. Under certain higher-speed conditions, the four-cylinder can also help power the wheels directly.

The battery can only be completely recharged through either a 120- or 240-volt outlet, but regenerative braking and the engine generator can replenish it slightly. In Edmunds range and fuel economy testing, we found the Volt had an electricity range of between 30 and 39 miles in mixed driving. When the battery is depleted, it returned 31.4 mpg. However, the term "your mileage may vary" has never been so true.

In Edmunds performance testing, the Volt went from zero to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds in electric mode and 9 seconds flat with the engine generator. Both are fairly quick times for the traditional hybrid segment.


Safety features on the 2011 Chevy Volt include antilock brakes, stability control, front side airbags, front knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Volt came to a stop in a respectable 124 feet.


The 2011 Chevrolet Volt accelerates quickly from a standstill and is very responsive at moderate speeds as well; it's the kind of performance that's typical of electric vehicles.

In all-electric mode, the Volt is as quiet and smooth as any EV we've driven -- and it's still a competent vehicle when the engine-generator kicks in. The change-over from battery charge to generator power can be difficult to notice, though once you inevitably do, it may take a while to get used to the engine revving regardless of engine speed.

The Chevy Volt feels slightly nose-heavy when you bend it around a corner, but it makes its moves with little body roll. Indeed, from the compliance of its ride quality to the weight and response of the steering, this Chevy Volt drives more naturally and feels more substantial than hybrids like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius. One problem area is the brake pedal. It is quite touchy and can be difficult to modulate, though stopping distances are good.

Read our Chevy Volt Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test


The 2011 Chevrolet Volt's distinctive center stack appears to have been modeled after various personal electronic devices with touch-sensitive buttons. It looks less like an automotive control panel than an oversized iPod, which we applaud; after all, if you're spending this much money on a vehicle, you'll likely expect a little something special inside. Overall interior quality is also high, with materials that seem to be the best yet from recently improved Chevrolet.

There's plenty of technology involved, too, including a standard color display with a built-in hard drive. In terms of functionality, the Volt's main controls are fairly intuitive, and the futuristic gauge readout is easy enough to read at a glance (though it washes out in sunlight). There's also a nice little ball -- sort of like the bubble in a water level -- that helps you stay in the most energy-efficient driving range. It's big and green when you are conserving fuel or battery energy and smaller and angry orange-yellow when you're not.

Space and comfort is a little disappointing. There is no power driver seat option, which limits adjustability and seems like an oversight in a car that costs $41,000. In back, there are just two seats, and they lack both headroom and legroom; adults will likely feel cramped.

The Volt's hatchback design is convenient for loading cargo, but the swooping rear roof line and battery pack location limit maximum luggage capacity to just 10.6 cubic feet with the back seats up. The rear seats fold down to expand cargo capacity, but overall practicality is below that of a Prius.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

I love my Volt more then my Ferrari...
As an enthusiastic car lover/collector/enthusiast, the Volt is about the coolest car I have ever owned, I have VIN 772. This thing has exceeded all my expectations in Quality, Styling, Ride, Acceleration, Efficiency. Chose to lease it for $350 a month and will most likely buy it at the end of the lease. My Lifetime MPG is 137 with a little over a 1k miles driven so far, which includes two 150 mile trips. Free Onstar for 5 years with nav downloads and hands-free blue tooth, this car is better then my old E class Mercedes, rides about the same. Wife and I literally fight over who drives it. It really moves out from a stop light in "Sport Mode" due to the E motors 100% Torque at 0-RPM.
Levitation-like smoothness
I have owned my red Chevrolet Volt for 20 days now. This car is mainly used for my work commute. Although I have taken two 70 mile drives to show the car to family. The odometer reads 990 miles total with just 2.1 gallons of gasoline burned. The Volt is driven by an electric motor all of the time. A small generator is available if travel over 35-40 miles battery is needed. It has been said that driving the Volt feels like flying. It really does. The low end acceleration is ample. The styling of the Volt rivals that of others cars I have owned. One of these being a 70's era Cobra II. My 19 year old son is thrilled to ride in our electric Volt. Full battery charge is 3.5 hours at 240V.
I Hate my Volt
Well actually I Love my VOLT except for the climate control system. It takes 5 mintues for the heater to start putting out warm air and you have to run the fan durning that time or you will never get heat. As if that is not bad enough it runs the A/C during this time to dehumitify the air. When its 40 degrees in the car I don't want it to blow cold air and I certainly don't want the A/C on. The rest of the car is everthing I had hoped for. I have driven it over 1200 miles and my average is over 160mpg. I am still running off the gas that came with the car. I like to go fast, I don't drive like a Prius driver, I like to drive in Sport mode and it is extremelly fun to drive.
Meets All Expectations...and more
Now in my second month and still have not used more than 2 gallons of gas. The car is surprisingly responsive, feels solid and has had no bugs, defects or annoyances that sometimes accompany new purchases. My average battery range is about 42 miles, but with the range extending on-board generator, there is no anxiety whatsoever about "getting there" as the range is essentially the same as a traditional gas powered vehicle. Moving from my prior Mercedes S 430, I find the Volt to be a remarkably well engineered product. Clearly someone is paying attention to the quality at the end of the production line.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2011 Chevrolet Volt features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover9.4%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2011 Chevrolet Volt
More About This Model

No car in history has been developed so openly in the public eye as the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. All other cars are built behind tightly locked doors, kept under wraps like those alien flying saucers in Area 51. Yet from the unveiling of the concept car in January 2007, the Chevy Volt's progress toward production has been diligently reported. Hope is in the air — hope for American ingenuity, hope for Chevrolet, even hope for the idea of the automobile itself.

So much of the hope for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt has to do with the clean, futuristic image of the electric car that it's easy to be a bit disappointed when you realize that this car is actually a sophisticated yet familiar sort of hybrid. It has both an electric motor and a gasoline-fueled engine working in tandem, and you'd describe it in technical terms as a plug-in hybrid.

Ironically, this makes the Chevrolet Volt better than an electric car. You can drive it between 25 and 40 miles on battery power, then plug it in to recharge. If you want to go farther, the engine works both directly and indirectly to extend the Volt's cruising range to as much as 310 miles.

Think of this as an electric car, only without the anxiety about cruising range. You plug it in when you can, then fill it with gas when you have to. And unlike some science experiment from Area 51, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt comes with a real car attached, one that can carry luggage as well as people and one that can go across the country as well as down to the grocery store. The downside is, the price of $41,000 will probably have you thinking lease rather than purchase.

Used 2011 Chevrolet Volt Overview

The Used 2011 Chevrolet Volt is offered in the following submodels: Volt Hatchback. Available styles include 4dr Hatchback (gas/electric hybrid DD).

What's a good price on a Used 2011 Chevrolet Volt?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2011 Chevrolet Volts are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 Chevrolet Volt for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

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Should I lease or buy a 2011 Chevrolet Volt?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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