2013 Chevy Volt: Initial Impressions

GM has loaned me a brand new Crystal Red Chevy Volt for my trip from San Diego to the Bay Area. ImageThey were nice enough to drop the car off at my work, where I was able to plug it in (note the plug-in prius next to the Volt). The Volt is brand new, with about 2,000 miles on it. It looks like the car has been driven about 700 miles since it was last fully charged (maybe driven to SD from Patrick Peterson in Arizona?) Since this particular car is generally driven longer distances to be delivered to drivers who do not have home charging, the car is predominately driven on gasoline. The current average lifetime fuel economy of thei car is 40.9MPG. We’ll see how my trip changes that. The average Volt driver, of course, is seeing well above this, in the 100+ MPG’s.

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I’ve driven my dad’s 2011 Volt quite a bit and there are a few noticeable improvements. First, there’s keyless entry, which is awesome. This came along in the 2012 Volt, but it’s a huge feature that was missing from the 2011 (along with my Fit EV!) The infotainment center has also been tweaked a bit and I found it easier to navigate through the menus. There are some new “apps” like Pandora, but I couldn’t get them working. I was able to stream Pandora from my iPhone over Bluetooth. One thing that the Volt does that the Fit EV doesn’t is it actually looks up the album art and displays it when streaming over bluetooth. This is a nice feature. GM has also listened to our requests and added an option to see kW being used or generated from the electric motor and gasoline engine. I wish all EVs had this data, rather than an arbitrary scale that goes from max to min.

The one thing that I really wish GM had upgraded on the 2013 Volt is the charger. I charged for a few hours at work and in the Fit EV I would have had about 80 miles of charge in that time. In the Volt, I had about 25. With a 6.6kW charger, the Volt could charge from empty to full in just 2 hours, which would be awesome. Of course, the Volt has a backup engine, so the slow charger won’t leave you stranded or force you to change your plans, but it may make you use a little extra gas.

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Overall I’m loving the 2013 Volt. It’s been fun watching this iconic car evolve from a preproduction vehicle (which was super solid) to an even better production vehicle that has saved about 5 million gallons of fuel.

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