June 19, 2015
The Chevrolet Volt was never a leader in sales. Since its debut in 2011 it has trailed behind the full electric Nissan Leaf and the old fashioned non-plug-in Prius. Because of this fact, there are countless 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Volts in lots across the country; with the introduction of the 2nd Generation 2016s, the time is ripe to make a deal. The Chevy’s affordable plug-in Hybrid, is arguably the best on the market. It has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any car in GM history. Pound for pound and fact for fact, it is unbeatable. The pure electric range, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is 38 miles. The aforementioned agency claims that the total combined range for the Volt is 380 miles. This boosts MPGe (Miles per Gallon Equivalency) to 98, which is 3 more than the Prius PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicle). Though, the Volt does suffer as a pure Hybrid, in that it only gets 37 MPG. Many may not know that regular Hybrids no longer get the green Tax Credit, only full electric and Plug-in Hybrids. On first glance, the Chevy has the most expensive of the small PHEVs, but if one digs below the superficial, it turns out that it is actually the cheapest. Toyota’s Prius PHEV starts at 29,990 (MSRP), the Ford C-Max is 31,770, and the Volt starts at a whopping 34,345. However, that is only half the story, because Chevy is the only of the three eligible for the maximum tax credit of 7,500 which leaves it at 26,845. Toyota and Ford only get 2,500 and 4,007, leaving them at 27,490 and 27,763 respectively. Granted, with MSRPs that low, the only real difference of price resides in one’s ability to negotiate. When considering the fact the 2nd Generation will be hitting the lots in 2016, now is the time to buy, you might even get a steal of a deal, and make off with a Chevrolet Volt in the 21-25 region (if you include the rebate with the price). At dealerships, the Volt is a rarity. Yesterday, when I went to visit my local Chevrolet Dealer, there were only 2 in the over 300 car lot. Both were new 2014s, one was the top of the line model, while the other was bottom of the barrel. The most striking aspect of the car is the size, it is minuscule. In my driving position I would be hard pressed to seat the suggested 4 passengers, what’s more, is that the rear seats were unable to fold all the way down. If one does fold the seats all the way down, the boot is rather large, otherwise you’d be distressed to discover your golf clubs will not fit. The center control panel, could be worse. It appears sleek and unique, unfortunately, the buttons do not inspire confidence when you press them (they don’t click or even move when pressed) and they aren’t very identifiable in the crowd. The infotainment system is not too cumbersome to navigate, it seems to have been designed by Garmin or TomTom. At first, you may go to the wrong menu a time or two before getting on the same page with the software engineers. The one problem I did encounter, is one that is common amongst anything using the technology, voice recognition was abysmal. I was assured by the salesman that the technology was a adaptive, so the more one uses it the better it becomes. Regardless, when I used it yesterday, it successfully accomplished nothing. In the time it took me to give up the pipe dream of setting a destination with my voice, I could have put the destination in with my finger and accomplished the journey. Using Voice recognition on the Volt, was like having the CEO of whatever company you work for, as a servant… assuming the CEO doesn’t speak English, or needs a hearing aid but doesn’t use it. The woman’s voice would tell you something, then the AC would pause for 2-3 (or more) seconds before the beep you have to wait for ever came. If, you responded like a normal conversation (when she finished her statement), she would wait for you to finish, ignore what you said, and scold your not waiting for the beep. Every once in a while, she would even interrupt what you are saying, to tell you she couldn’t understand, then say “goodbye” hang up on you. This means you have to summon her again, with the voice command button on the steering wheel, and start the whole process over. I played around with the system, for at least 30 minutes without accomplishing anything. I would have been furious if I didn’t find it so funny. If I had a destination, or if it were hotter outside, I might not have found her so amusing. Nonetheless by the time I left the car I was starting to sweat from all the time the AC was turned off. What is most impressive about this Plug-in Hybrid is actually driving it. Most people associate Hybrids with the sniveling Prius, which is about as fun to drive as a lawn mower. The reason being that the Prius has no pick-up, it feels like a budget economical car… which it is, but so is the Chevy (it’s actually even cheaper). The Volt, on the other side of the coin, goes like lightning in sport mode, it has 273 foot pounds of torque, which is almost 3 times as much as the Prius’s 105. That is not a typo, this hybrid has only 5 less foot pounds of torque than the V6 Camaro. Admittedly some of the fun is lost when you can’t shift gears for yourself, but that is fine when considering a manual V6 Camaro only gets 17 and 28 city and Highway miles. The only real problem with Hybrids is that they usually look like Hybrids. The Volt is no exception, it actually looks like a Prius by Chevy. I prefer cars that are converted into Hybrids like the Civic or the Fusion. There was a time where I would have scoffed at the Volt, but after driving one I am more than excited for Chevrolet’s Second Gen, I urge anyone even vaguely interested to go in and make an offer I guarantee Chevy will give you a good deal.