Maybe I’m just a fickle gal, but it seems that I fall in love with the last car I test drive. The Chevy Volt is my 4th week-long review ride, and as of now, it is at the top of my real-world, eco-ride list. Sandy totaled two of our cars (with one tree!), and my daughter has the one that was salvageable at college, so I’ve been taking my time doing research on my next vehicle. Being a Green Diva has its advantages . . .
It seems like most car manufacturers are coming out with some type of EV, hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Most of them are still concept cars, but worse, many of them are only ‘compliance’ cars designed to fulfill California emissions requirements so the car company can continue to sell cars in that enormous market. Sadly, compliance cars are extremely small production runs and usually aren’t available to the rest of the US. Bummer.
What’s a Green Diva to do? Fortunately, companies like GM are serious, and proving it with the Volt.
Great 2-part video chat with John Voelcker, Sr. Editor of GreenCarReports.com on compliance cars from last year:
Part 1: John Voelcker does a 101 on compliance cars
Part 2: John voelcker talks about which cars are and which cars aren’t compliance cars
The good news is that the Volt is NOT a compliance car and they have been out long enough to have a significant track record on the road. I’ve talked about them for a couple of years with John Voelcker and other green car experts and the ruling has always been positive. So, I was glad to have a chance to really play with this car and consider it seriously as the next GD mobile!
My dream is to have a car that will run primarily on electricity with a small gas engine as back-up for longer trips. Sounds like a Volt, right? I had driven the Prius plug-in hybrid and the Ford C-Max Energi, which are both great little cars in many ways, but as it turns out, charging from my house (as it stands without a 220 station) didn’t give either of them enough juice to run without using the gas reserves on a daily basis.
I work from home and live where I can walk to town and aside from occasional trips to New York, I really only need the car for local travel during the week.
So far, the Volt is the only car that has answered this dream of gas-less driving. I didn’t use a drop of gasoline the entire week I had the Volt! Now, if I were to every purchase or lease this car, I would definitely consider a 220 charging station because it did take over 12 hours the first time I charged it . . . (note the ‘charge by’ time is 3:30am – this shot was taken at about 11am, so it’s expected time to fully charge was well over 12 hours.)
That was only the first day because they guy that brought it, had completely drained the battery and even depleted the gas as he had to drive over 60 miles to drop the car off. The rest of the time, it charged easily overnight — being plugged in after dinner and ready to go first thing in the morning, which would mostly be my schedule.
It was a little strange never hearing the gas engine kick in, but I rather liked that part.
Generally, the car is a very smooth ride (and is exactly what every single person that got in it said almost right away), and more powerful than you imagine an electric engine to be. I didn’t take it on the highway till day 4 and was very tentative about passing a big truck in a healthy volume of traffic, but the car quietly, but powerfully accelerated without a moment’s hesitation. I expected the battery meter to drain quickly, but it did not move. Hmmm. Really not what I was expecting — in a good way.
This particular model was missing a couple of the bells and whistles that I’ve gotten very attached to — electric seats with memory settings and beeping reverse and front bumper sensors. The former a luxury my husband and I love because we are a foot difference in height, so you can imagine how vastly different our driving settings are; the latter just a helpful crutch that I’ve gotten accustomed to using for the past 6 years, and it felt strange NOT to have those little beepy helpers.
Like all hybrids and electrics, the Volt has its own graphic drive train that helps illustrate in real-time when you are draining the battery and when you are recharging it. And like the others, it offers other graphic displays in the driver’s view that are designed to help retrain how we drive in order to drive more eco-friendly, and ultimately take advantage of the electric/hybrid engine. There was a wonderful little green ball graphic that rotates with leaves happily when you are in the eco ‘sweet spot’ and changes color and loses the leaves when you are not.
Every time you turn the car off, the main display would offer this detailed report . . .
I was very pleased with this car, and because of my ability to drive without using any gasoline, this could now be at the top of the list for new official Green Diva vehicle. That and the fact that the interior was aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and the sound system rocked (a prerequisite for any serious car contenders).
and Green Diva Gracie gives it her paw print of approval too . . .