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Old 03-09-2013, 11:02 AM   #1
Chris V
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Brought home a new Volt.

Driving quietly into the future....











Traded in my 2006 Mustang GT Convertible for it. The Mustang had become a daily driver/commuter, instead of the sunny day weekend driver it was supposed to be, and as such was only getting about 14-15 mpg on the commute, and wasn't much fun to drive when the weather wasn't nice.

Also, I tend to carry 2-3 other people (usually family) a couple times a week and getting them in and out of the back seat of the Mustang or my wife's MINI Cooper was comical and slightly cruel. Since I had equity in the Mustang, it was decided that it was the one that would go, and my wife would keep her MINI Cooper for the time being (though when it's lease is up, we may pick up another convertible to replace it).

I wanted something comfortable, practical, new, high tech, and economical to operate. Mostly I was looking at EVs and PHEVs. I've driven my coworker's Prius and hated it (as does he, but that's another story). I looked at the Fusion Energi, C Max Energi, Focus Electric, Leaf, and Spark EV. Pure electrics don't yet have enough range for me to use for the occasional longer trips I still make, though they would cover the commute and errand running quite well. The PHEVs don't have enough electric only range and the pricing, even with incentives was still too high. The Volt hit that sweet spot of electric range, long distance range, and cost ($41k list, but under $29k after incentives and credits), as well as practicality (big hatch area) and high tech.

The Volt is also a nice place to spend time. The Premium leather and suede seats are comfy and supportive, and I like the suede inserts in the door panels. it's actually fun to drive, having more punch around town than the MINI Cooper, and almost as much 5-40 punch as my Mustang did. At least it feels like it the way the electric motor delivers torque and thrust (and it's deceptive, as there's little to no sound to accompany the rush of speed). it also handles quite well, given it's Goodyear Assurance low rolling resistance tires. The weight is carried low in the chassis for a decent CG, and the car has good roll control, so it corners fairly flat.

The 2013s add a "hold" mode to the drive choices. This mode allows you to switch the gas generator on and "hold" the electric range for later use. What this means is that if I'm going to take a longer highway trip, I can use electric to get to the highway, then "hold" and go to the gas generator (which is still only charging the batteries, not driving the car) for the highway where the gas engine is more efficient, then go back to EV when you get to your destination and are off the highway. I can get upwards of 60-70 total mpg this way, something the previous Volts couldn't really do.

I've had the car for a month and 1100 miles so far, and except for the trip to southern VA and one down to DC, I've yet to use the gas engine. My electric bill has only gone up by $20 over the same time last year... All in all I'm quite happy with the choice, and in three years when the lease is up, well see if there are higher tech choices on the market (or an improved version of the Volt platform. I'd love to see a CUV based on this platform).
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:30 PM   #2
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Re: Brought home a new Volt.

More pics from my favorite photo location:





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Old 09-11-2013, 05:56 PM   #3
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Re: Brought home a new Volt.

6000 mile update. I love it. It's reasonably quick (280 lb ft of torque at "idle" will do that) and fun to drive, with decent handling and a bit of a sporty feeling. I drive with the trans in Low and with Sport mode engaged for better throttle tip in and agressive regen "braking" when you let off the throttle. The EV thrust is smooth and quiet and actually feels like a big engine luxury car (much like my 740iL). If you drive in D and in normal mode, it feels completely different, as there is little regen and it will coast forever, and you also have to use more throttle travel to make it accelerate quickly. Most people leave it in Normal and D for the test drive. Salesmen don't usually even know that there are other modes. You can use L gear all the way up to 100 mph, as it's not really another gear ratio, it just mimics the engine braking of a lower gear ratio by making regen aggressive. It's aggressive enough that I've been able to add a couple miles of range to the car just coming off an offramp of the highway and letting low gear slow the car and put energy back into the battery.

I find the premium leather seats to be more comfortable, and in my case, the Pebble Beige gives suede inserts on the seats and door panels (the black leather interior has no suede and the door panel inserts are smooth plastic.). The base interior is cloth, and it feels kind of cheap, to me. I'd definitely spring for one of the premium interiors. Also, there is a choice, with the black or base interiors, to have the center stack and instrument binnacle to be glossy white plastic or charcoal grey. I prefer the charcoal grey.

About 4 months back, my wife took it on a 1500 mile weeklong trip to CT and back, so she used some gasoline (it got over 50 mpg highway, even though it's only rated at 37, but theres a reason for that, as using hold mode works great). But since that time, I've gone another 4 months without putting fuel in it at all. I have used a couple gallons of gas, since one trip I went 65 miles in one day with no recharge, and a couple other times I used the 2013's "hold" mode to use gas on the highway in order to save electric range for city use.

Hold mode , like I said in the OP, allows you to use the gas generator when it's most efficient, and the pure EV modes for when they are most efficient. By using hold mode, the generator runs to "hold" the battery charge at whatever level it was on when you changed modes. It'll actually build charge and then shut the engine down while you are driving, as the engine is not used to drive the wheels, until you are doing close to 100 mph (I've had it over 80 mph in normal and sport modes and the engine never fires up...). By using Hold mode, you can improve engine efficiency on the highway to get closer to 60 mpg (lowest I've seen if 45 mpg). The car is rated at 37 mpg because the EPA tested it in normal mode and let the engine run after the battery was depleted, at which point you're using it to not only maintain the battery charge, but run at low speeds in town where it's just not as efficient.

Battery range has increased as the weather warms up. I've gone the equivalent of 60 miles on a charge (used 5 kWh to go 30 miles), and gone the 8 miles one way to work on an indicated 2 miles of range, and I don't hypermile. I just drive it like a normal car.

Battery range is also affected by using the climate control settings. Fan only is what it says, and runs only the fans. Not bad most of the time, and uses very little power, so you maximize range. Eco is a setting that allows limited heating and AC (it uses electric heat and AC powered by the main battery pack), and works well to maintain temps even at local extremes (I've driven the car in as low as 15 degrees and as warm as 100 degrees since I've had it). Comfort is the max setting and will reduce range by a couple miles, but cools nicely in 95-100 degree heat (I use it to get it to temp in the cabin, then switch to Eco to maintain). In the winter, using the seat heaters will do wonders for inproving range vs using the cabin heater. I just wish it had a heated steering wheel.

The Volt does not drive the wheels with the gas engine EXCEPT in certain rare instances which I'v enever experienced.

I charge the car every night with the stock 120V charger. It's habit to pull in, pop the cover and plug in. Takes about 10 seconds to do. There are two charge modes on 120v (and one 240V mode if you have a Level 2 charger). On basic charge (8 amp draw) it'll take about 10 hours to charge. On the high draw charge (12 amp draw) it'll take about 6 hours to charge fully. But since I rarely use more than half the range in daily use (I only go 15-25 miles per day in commuting and errand running) I usually charge in 4 hours with the 120v charger even on the 8a draw. So far since I got the car in February, my electric bill hasn't changed at all vs the same time last year.

If you guys test drive one, make sure of two things:
1) make sure the car is charged (so many aren't) and then
2) drive for a bit in mormal mode (default) and D. Then put it in Sport mode and Low gear (they drive all the way up to 100 mph in low gear). Feel the difference in torque delivery for throttle position, and engine braking in Low. Punch it repeatedly from about 15-20 mph. Giggle a bunch. Seriously.

Some of the negative things...

The flexible air dam is quite low and scrapes on everything.

I wish it had a heated steering wheel.

I wish it retained sport mode when you shut it off, instead of having to select it every time I start the car up.

On those lines, I wish it retained the charge mode every time, in stead of having to select 12a charging every time I shut the car off before I plug it in. Normally I leave it in 8a mode as I don't need it charged until late, but if I could leave it in 12a mode, that would be cool.

Rear legroom is kind of tight. I never need 5 passenger seating, so 4 seats is fine, but a 6 footer doesn't fit well in back for longer trips.

Lastly, the A pillars are huge and do interfere a bit with blind left turns, as the drive'rs side pillar tends to block a lot of what's coming at you and can make it harder to place the car in faster twisties or parking lots. This is a problem I've seen in a lot of new cars, though, in trying to make rollover protection better.
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Last edited by Chris V; 09-16-2013 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:04 AM   #4
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Re: Brought home a new Volt.

8000 miles on it so far, still flawless after all these months. LOVE the car. Drove it almost 6 months without using any gas at all.
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Old 11-27-2018, 03:40 PM   #5
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Re: Brought home a new Volt.

5 YEAR update:



Still a great commuter. Doing most of my driving on battery power, but still able to take long road trips (like last week for Thanksgiving, driving to upstate NY with it an 8 hour road trip). 33,000 miles on it now.

I also have a level 2 charger for quick charging at home:

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Old 11-27-2018, 04:06 PM   #6
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Re: Brought home a new Volt.

My car club friend has a new one same color, it's a little tight for me, at 6 1", but nice riding, no luggage room he says. But he also has a 40 Chev street rod. Yikes , no more Volts!
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