All told, the Volt was weighed down with so much political and social baggage that I was surprised it could pull away from the curb.
So for me, it felt great to finally jump into the Chevy, ditch the debates and just drive. And you know what? G.M. has nailed it, creating a hatchback that feels peppy and mainstream yet can sip less fuel than any gas- or diesel-powered car sold in America.
The Volt leaves you grinning with its driving-the-future vibe. Yet the car operates so seamlessly that owners need not think about the planetary gear sets, the liquid-cooled electrons and all that digital magic taking place below…
To me, G.M. should shout from the rooftops that the Volt is really a plug-in hybrid; its ability to drive like an electric car when you want it, but coast-to-coast on gasoline should you need, is its huge advantage over short-range, cord-bound E.V.’s like the Nissan Leaf.
As Chevy reminds us incessantly, a Volt owner can travel 40 miles each day and never burn a drop, joule or calorie of gasoline (more, obviously, if you can plug in while at the office or shopping mall). That owner will cover those first 40 miles for about $1.50 worth of electricity on average, a figure that includes electrical losses as the Volt draws some 12.5 kilowatt-hours of juice to refill the battery. The Volt only uses about 65 percent of its battery capacity, one of several strategies aimed at ensuring long battery life. While the batteries are warranted for eight years or 100,000 miles, G.M. says it engineered them to last 150,000 miles.
Covering those same 40 miles would cost $4.80 in gasoline for a typical 25-m.p.g. car, or $2.40 for the Prius driver who managed 50 m.p.g.