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Chevrolet 2012 Volt


2012 Chevrolet VOLT
Leading the Way to A Greener Future

By Linda Sharp

            When the 2012 Chevrolet Volt arrived for a hands on test, I was thrilled. I’m a huge proponent of any vehicle that increases fuel economy numbers and thus reduces our dependence on oil.
           
What showed up looked remarkably similar to the original concept car that I had seen some five or six years ago. I was immediately impressed.
GM markets the Volt as an extended range electric vehicle. The electric driver consists of 5.5-foot, 435-pound T-shaped 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is manufactured in Brownstown Township, MI. It supplies energy to an advance 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit to propel the vehicle. No it doesn’t feel anything like a golf cart. It feels like a normal vehicle.
           
The “range-extender” if you will is a 1.4 L gasoline-powered engine that extends the driving range up to an additional 344 miles of a full tank of fuel by operating the vehicle’s electric drive system until the car can be plugged in and recharged or refueled. That is how GM explains it, to me that means that the car always runs on the electric system, but sometimes the power comes from house current and other times it comes from power generated by the onboard gasoline engine.
           
The Volt itself is a very eye-appealing package. The sleek, contemporary bodylines quickly let you know that GM engineers have chased the air on this vehicle to great detail. It has an exceptionally low ground clearance, with the front air dam just barely off the ground.
           
The interior is sumptuous, with four individualized bucket seats. I felt like I was in the cockpit of a private jet.  Our test vehicle included the premium package, which provided perforated leather appointed seating. The front seats were heated.Again the dash and center stack control panel reminded me of the dash in an airplane with an endless array of touch controls for the high level of standard amenities.That list includes a color touch radio with 7” screen and 6 speakers, automatic AC, aux audio input jack, rear view mirror with auto dimming, efficiency display screens w/programmable charge times, steering wheel audio control, cruise control, USB port, XM radio (service subscription sold separately), Universal home remote and BlueTooth for the phone.
           
There is also a bountiful list of safety features that include a host of airbags. dual-front stage frontal, side-impact, and knee for driver and front passenger,        roof rail side-impact for front and rear outboard seating position.  Additionally, the Volt comes standard with anti-lock brakes, Stabilitrak-stability control with traction control, pedestrian friendly alert (when the car runs on electric it makes no noise, so this protects pedestrians), tire pressure monitor, and a three year OnStar direction with automatic crash response, and turn-by-turn navigation. Other niceties include remote keyless entry with remote start, daytime running lamps, auto on/off head lamps, tilt and telescoping steering column, power windows and the all important 120 V portable charge cord.
           
We found the Volt a delight to drive. It is well balanced, handles nicely, has ample power on highway runs and feels amazingly “planted.” That planted feel is probably directly related to its almost 3800 weight, which is a bit more than usual for a conventional vehicle of this size. The trunk or behind the seat area is quite spacious, and the fold down rear seats give the Volt added flexibility.
           
Also of note is that the Volt has earned a top safety pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As well, as a host of accolades from the motoring press: Motor Trend 2011 car of the year, Green Car Journal Car of the Year, Car & Driver 10 Best for 2011, Ward’s AutoWorld 10 Best Engine for 2011, Automobile magazine 2011 Automobile of the Year, and Popular Mechanic’s 2010 Breakthrough Technology award.
           
But I’m sure for most of you, what you really want to know about the Volt is how does it performs in the MPG or would that be MP Charge numbers?
I charged the Volt over night before I ever drove it. It showed me a 32-mile range on the charge. Pretty much all of my driving was on the Interstate, making a 200-mile round trip run from home to Charlotte, NC. The 32-mile prediction was dead on. At 33 miles on the ODO, it switched to the gasoline assist. I did not have the option of recharging the Volt at my Charlotte destination. Subtracting out the 32 miles of “free” mileage, the gasoline-assisted mileage came in at just over 34 mpg. The next day I charged the Volt again. Again, it showed me 32 miles of electric range; again, the number was spot on. This time, my driving included perhaps 20% of stop and go driving. Again subtracting out the “free” miles, the Volt averaged 37.2 mpg on gas assisted driving. The onboard computer told me the total average fuel economy was 45.9. That is a highly respectable number.
           
From my personal drive experience; it was obvious that the Volt is best suited to metropolitan usage. Jay Leno claims he has put over 11,000 miles on his Volt and never used a drop of gas. It’s obvious to me that he never gets more than 30 miles from his base-charging source. So if you live in the city, commute 10 -12 miles each way to work. Or if you are a stay at home person, whose business rarely takes you more than a 15-mile radius from your home, the Volt would be an excellent choice. If your driving needs dictates longer drive routes, I would suggest you check out the Chevy Cruise Eco with which we averaged 44 mpg on a highway run.
           
Based on your local electric rates, a full charge will cost somewhere between $1.50 to just under $2.00. So with today’s fuel prices, you are 30% or better ahead in fuel cost savings on the first 32 miles you drive.
           
As is almost always the case, new technology comes with a price tag. The standard vehicle price on the Volt is $39,145.00.  Add-ons of a Nav system with DVD ROM and 30GM hard drive storage, a premium trim package and leather wrapped steering wheel and Bose premium speaker system brought our test vehicles price tag to $43,030.00. It should be noted that there is up to a $7,500 Federal tax credit on the vehicle that would drop your cost, if you can use such a credit.           

The Volt has a lot to offer, especially if it fits your needs. Or if you are a “green” kind of person and want to make not only a statement, but also a commitment as well to our environmental future, the Volt is an excellent way to go.

 

 

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Chevrolet 2012 Volt

 

 

Chevrolet 2012 Volt

 

Chevrolet 2012 Volt
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