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Arrival: 2011 Chevrolet Volt

Written by Staff. Posted in Chevrolet News

Published on May 03, 2016 with No Comments

As “new” cars go, they don’t get much newer than Chevy’s extended-range electric Volt. So much is different about the first production plug-in hybrid that we have loads of questions: How do you “break in” an engine that may serve only occasional use? (Succinct owner’s manual answer: “The vehicle does not require a break-in period.”) What’s its real-world battery range? (So far: 22-30 wintry miles.) How does its climate-control system work in extreme temperatures? (Better dress for the weather.) Is it worth the money? (Not if you crave only net cost savings.)

To better answer these questions and more, we took delivery of our long-term Volt in Detroit in a January mini-blizzard. On our very first day with the Volt, we learned that those low-resistance Assurance Fuel Max tires provide impressive snow traction, and that the engine will fire briefly “due to low temperature” when it’s below 27 degrees F, even when the battery’s full. We’ve also discovered that, to preserve range, the Volt is stingy with its hair-dryer-like heat. Our car’s optional seat warmers switch on automatically, and the footwells heat up okay, but cabin temperature levels off at 65 degrees when set to 75 in Comfort mode (that’s already 5 degrees above what we set heat-spewing combustion-powered cars to, and Eco mode slows the warmup by 4-5 minutes). Preheating while plugged in improves comfort and range, but for best results, start it 20 minutes before departure and again 10 minutes later (it shuts off after 10 and allows a one-time extension). By the time you read this, our Volt will be in Southern California demonstrating how warmer weather stretches its battery range. We expect about a 10-mile improvement.

So far we’ve consumed 33.6 gallons of premium and 473 kW-hrs of electricity, spending 8c per mile on energy. You’d have to drive 200,000 miles to save the price premium over a similarly loaded Chevy Cruze LTZ, but the high-tech capacitive-touch buttons and dressier (if tight) interior add value, as does your ability to commute silently to work without range anxiety. It does draw attention — a “green real estate” agent followed copy chief Sandoval into the office parking lot to hear her take (“I give it a solid thumbs-up”). Will it still be cool when the “new” wears off, or will it seem like just another 9-second econobox? We’ll keep you posted.

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Chevy Magazine Staff is a group of car lovers, editors, and writers who have a passion for Chevy cars. Besides being all around car nerds and proud owners of Chevrolets, our staff is dedicated to providing you breaking news, reviews, and tutorials.

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