HEELS ON WHEELS: 2017 CHEVROLET VOLT REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser Parrish
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE VOLT VEHICLE
When the looks of a Prius don’t suit you – or the price of a Tesla – consider the Chevrolet Volt sedan featuring a powerful hybrid setup that delivers all-electric driving eighty percent of the time, plus a world of connectivity technology like 4G LTE Wi-Fi.
I drove a 2017 Chevrolet Volt with the Voltec electric drive system featuring an 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 1.5-liter gas-powered range extender for a total output of 149 horsepower. Available in an LT or Premier trim (and extra packages), standard features on my Premier trim included: leather upholstery; an eight-inch instrument panel; another eight-inch touchscreen display with Chevrolet MyLink; push-button start; remote vehicle starter; rear vision camera; heated front and rear seats; automatic park assist; Bose premium audio system. Total vehicle price as described without options came to $37,570.
Main competitors keep multiplying and include the fully electric Nissan Leaf and the Prius Plug-in but also extend to the hybrid Lexus CT200h and the Kia Soul EV. Recent news reports the Volt dominates is sales over the all-electric Nissan Leaf.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Designed to mimic a sedan, the Volt actually features a hatchback rear opening for wide access to the cargo area. They call the Volt a five-person vehicle, but that’s a stretch – that fifth rear center passenger must uncomfortably straddle the cup holders, which proved to be cramped for a middle-school aged child during my test drive. And it’s not anywhere ideal for a rear baby seat. After a string of Lexus vehicles, the Chevy seats were not nearly as firm or plush (and there was no power seating). But if you focus on the connectivity technology, you’ll like the all-new Teen Driver feature that provides a built-in system to help encourage safe driving habits (as well as how your kid did when borrowing the car) and Android and Apple Car Play compatibility.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2017 Chevrolet Volt as not yet been rated The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), although the ease of child seat anchors has been rated “Marginal”. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated it at the time of this publication. Standard safety highlights include OnStar, a standard rear camera, and an advanced airbag system.
Cost Issues: A base 2017 Chevrolet Volt LT is $33,220 and the Premium is $37,570 with my test drive also featuring $2,480 in options (safety technology, special paint job) for a total price of $40,050.
Activity & Performance Ability: With just 149 horsepower available, the Volt is surprisingly nimble although you will feel a strain at 65 miles-per-hour even in Sport Mode. The biggest performance pro is that the gasoline engine plays second fiddle to the electric motor, and you get 53 miles before the system needs to sip liquids. With a regular 120-volt, it takes you 13 hours while a 240-volt takes around 4.5 hours – my recent Nissan Leaf needed more than 24 hours with a 120-volt to get a full charge. Touchy brakes did equate to unpredictable control, especially when parallel parking. If you’re avoiding the Prius because you experienced limited rear visibility, keep in the mind the Volt’s hatchback design doesn’t avoid this entirely – I still felt a significant need to crane and crank my neck when changing lanes or backing up (and regardless of all my safety tech additions).
The Green Concern: The EPA estimates the Volt will deliver the typical driver 42 miles-per-gallon on gasoline only, which has improved over the years. If you manage to be disciplined with plugging the vehicle in, you could achieve 106 miles-per-gallon equivalent. The limited charge time alone is another reason to go with the Volt.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2017 Chevrolet Volt possesses the style many competitors lack, but the vehicle needs a few additions like power seating and a sunroof to achieve a more appealing level of comfort and class, and for the price, should have it. The hybrid system also keeps “range anxiety” at bay, something you will not enjoy should you go with a fully electric Nissan Leaf.
©2016 Katrina Ramser Parrish
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