Having reviewed the 2012 Chevrolet Volt back in the summer of 2012 we were curious to see how it compared to the new 2014 model. Upon first glance the two models are very similar in look and feel but after driving the 2014 version for a week it does seem more stately overall.
Throughout both experiences I really enjoyed driving the Volt and most of all it is just so fun and convenient not have to go to a gas station. Unlike pure battery electric cars like the Nissan Leaf or even the Tesla Model S, the Volt plug-in hybrid can be driven straight across the country if you desire, while only having to fill up the gas tank every 500 km or so. Behind the wheel, the driving mechanics of the Volt are top-notch with ample torque through acceleration and a low center of gravity which provides a sporty “eco” feel. As well, for a small sedan it feels sturdy and carries a genuine confidence even on our snow-covered winter roads.
During the test week, I drove back and forth to work for five days while plugging it in a few times in my garage. The cost for the overnight charge is approx $2-3 according to most industry sources so it’s not exactly going to put your utility bill through the roof. In addition, the number of public charging stations is only going to rise as there are now ~ 200 stations in Ontario with more coming all the time. For full details on these public charging station locations see the following map.
Having a short commute of only 20 kms round trip makes the Volt a perfect vehicle for the city dweller like me. However, one thing I did notice was the electric range was slightly effected in the cold December temperatures which is to be expected with electric power. The Volt’s gas engine actually turns on initially when the car is started in below zero degree temperatures (Celsius) to assist with heating of the engine. However, in spite of this, the fuel use was negligible as after the week the fuel gauge had not moved.
The news just keeps getting better for the plug-in 2014 Chevrolet Volt which now costs $3,000 less than it did initially since Chevy Canada cut the price from $41,545 to $38,595. However, along with the healthy $3,000 drop, there is also the combined purchase incentives available in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia that increase the Volt’s value. For example, here in Ontario, the current incentive value is $8,231 (CAD) resulting in the Volt’s starting price being reduced to $30,364 (CAD). At this price, it’s surprising GM is not selling more Volts as it really is a practical car for a variety of consumer audiences.
Many people are not aware of the Volt’s overall practicality as a four-door, four-seat hatchback with tons of storage space. Having packed the Volt with our Christmas gifts along with ski and snowboard equipment, I can honestly say it has almost as much room as our 2008 Ford Escape. With the rear seats folded down it is quite cavernous in the back compartment. The only real drawback as a result of its electric power is the loss of the middle rear seat which is taken up by the multiple batteries.
The Volt’s interior is very luxurious and includes the typical bells and whistles we have come to expect from a car priced in its range including; electronic stability control, seven-speaker Bose® audio system with subwoofer, 7 inch touch screen display with Turn-by-Turn Navigation, SiriusXM®4 Satellite Radio and the very cool Siri Eyes Free for iPhone users.
Having reviewed two different models years, I can say with honesty that the Chevrolet Volt is a great all around car with tons of functionality for almost all drivers. It’s certainly worth looking at closely if you are in the market for a four door sedan. One additional deciding factor about the Volt vs. an efficient gas-powered vehicle is the lower expected maintenance of electric vehicles as a result of them having less moving parts. This theory will be tested by the industry over the next few years as more plug-in electrics hit the market but most experts agree costs maintenance costs should be lower. As well, GM Canada is offering a 160,000 KM or 8 year warranty on the battery which provides owners with piece of mind.
Currently, there are several key competitors for the Volt including the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Motors’ i-MiEV which are both full battery electric vehicles. The Ford Focus EV and the plug-in version of the Toyota Prius also provide more competition on the plug-in side while the new BMW i3 is expected to be available in Canada by mid 2014 although it is priced slightly higher than the Volt.