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Getting Charged Up

Chevrolet Volt
Posted September 12 2012 09:07 AM by Scott Parker 
Filed under: Editorials, Chevrolet Performance Cars

2011 Chevrolet Volt

 Ultimate commuter or technological nightmare?


I tend to come in contact with two types of people in my line of work: diehard gas-burners that want everything they own to have 8-cylinder or more, and those with expensive toys that want daily drivers that save them money. I, personally, tend to straddle the line between the two. I will purchase an economical commuter, get bored and trade it in for something more fun, and then when I ruin said daily driver (currently my '05 C6) and make it unreliable and impractical I will go back to another commuter. Thus is the appeal of the Chevrolet Volt. Our Tampa, Florida headquarters makes electric vehicle use particularly appealing since Mayor Bob Buckhorn has made it a point to have more charging stations than any other in the state. The new program will eventually have over 150 stations. One of which happens to be at my condo building, which is less than a mile from several free stations at various government buildings. GM loaned us a Volt for the week to test out, and here is what I have so far:

Initial impressions
Considering the last commuter I purchased cost just $20,000 and got about 40mpg on the highway, I had quite a bit of sticker shock when I saw the total vehicle price as $44,180. In case you thought the tester had lots of expensive options, which it does, standard vehicle price is $40,280. But a big saving grace for the Volt, despite its price, is the warranty. 8 years and 100,000 miles alleviates any concerns or reservations someone might have about expensive repairs to the battery and Voltec component. The regular powertrain warranty lasts 5 years and 100,000 miles.

Getting in the car and getting comfortable takes a bit of effort. The adjustments for the manual seat are not exactly intuitive, and there is limited range on the rearview mirror. The electronic controls can seem pretty overwhelming as well, like you might need a computer science degree to operate. But for the younger generation of techno-geeks it is very cool, and worth the effort to adjust. The sound at start-up is RAD (and I don't use that term often). It's like getting behind the controls of the Millennium Falcon. All of the surfaces that you touch are smooth, and the leather option (premium package) is probably worth the extra money to avoid an overly plastic interior. The steering wheel is perfectly sized (seems familiar in some way...oh yeah!) and well shaped. The sound system is excellent.

So far my driving experience has been less than 35 minutes total, but the feel of the brakes is quite odd. I prefer the use of the electric motor, it is much more smooth, however, the drive to deliver the car (from Miami) pretty much killed all the juice. I attempted to charge the vehicle at my condo parking lot, but it requires a credit car with a microchip since there is no slot (only a place to scan the chip). The one that I had expired and my replacement card oddly did not have one (thanks Amex!). My mission this evening will be to steel some juice from a government building down the street, and stop using all the gas. According to GM, once fully charged you can get 35 miles out of the batteries before it switches over to the gas motor. Hopefully I can test this out this week and report back. For now, stand bye...

P.S. If you are interested in test driving a Volt, you may be able to do so at your local shopping mall. Check these dates and locations.

Long Island --  Saturday and Sunday September 15th and 16th at Roosevelt Field Mall.

Philadelphia -- Saturday and Sunday, September 22nd and 23rd at King of Prussia Mall

Washington, DC -- Saturday and Sunday, September 29th and 30th  at Potomac Mills Mall

Dallas -- Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14 at North East Mall 

Los Angeles   -- Saturday and Sunday, October  27 and 28 - Brea Mall 

Los Angeles -- Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4 - Ontario Mills Mall

San Diego  - Saturday and Sunday, November 10 and 11 - Fashion Valley Mall 



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GM High-Tech Performance
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