When I look on line there just aren’t really any good reviews of the Chevy Volt. My go to channel for watching EV related stuff is Robert LLewellyn’s Fully Charged show. Since Robert lives in the UK and can’t really get a Volt, I thought I would take it upon myself to do a proper review of this car!
Watch My Video about the 2017 Chevy Volt
2017 Chevrolet Volt Misconception #1
A lot of people think the Volt is just a hybrid “just like the Prius”, or “It shares a lot of similar technology so it must be the same?” Right? No. It’s not. Look, Mia Kunis share 96% of her DNA with a Chimpanzee! Which one would you rather take home with you?
2017 Chevrolet Volt Misconception #2
“The Volt is just an electric car that can only travel 53 miles before stranding you!” Right? Wrong! The Volt is one of the few cars that can either run on electric or gasoline!
The Big Three Questions about The Chevrolet Volt
Now since I have owned an EV for a long time I am well aware of the three big questions that people always ask. How Fast?, How Far?, and How Much? In the words of Chelsea Sexton, “How fast? How far? How much? Those are the the questions we’re getting. We put it in the advertising! It’s not rocket science. So I am going to start by tackling those three questions.
Let’s start with number one. How fast? Now, where could I go to do a proper test of this car? I know! How about the drag strip?
Attempt #1: All Electric Mode
In line at the drag strip was a little nerve racking. I’d never done anything like this before. It was really hot in the car. They told me I was not allowed to have the air conditioner on, and I had to keep the windows up because it was so incredibly noisy outside.
For the first attempt I wanted to go all out full electric mode and quickly found out I was not the slowest car on the track, as I beat my first opponent: a Honda. In my first run down the track, I wasn’t even sure I was supposed to go so you’ll notice I actually let off the accelerator temporarily. That undoubtedly hurt my time. I guess my screw up didn’t matter, because the scoring system wasn’t even working this time, so I didn’t even get to see my results.
Attempt #2: All Electric Mode (again)
I got in line again, and this time ended up by myself with no competition in the lane next to me. I’m still doing EV mode this time. I wound up zero to 60 in 7.6 seconds. I got the ticket from the drag strip employee, and here’s my result: 10.04 in the 1/8th mile running at 69.36 MPH!
Attempt #3: Gasoline Mode
The third time down the track I put the car in “Hold Mode”, which means the car will run on gasoline only, to see if there is any difference. This time I wound up with a souped up pickup next to me in line. I noticed right away the car was slower off the line and my results confirmed that: zero to 60 in 8.1 seconds, and 10.539 in the 1/8th mile.
So? How Fast?
This is interesting, because this means that the 2017 Chevrolet Volt is actually faster off the line than a base model Tesla Model S 85! However, it appears that gasoline mode has more power in the upper speeds, with lower take off power on the Volt.
OK. So to definitively answer the question “How fast is this car?” It’s plenty fast. In fact, it’s quicker of the line than most cars, except legitimate performance cars. So I don’t think there’s going to be any problem with how fast it is.
Alright! So to answer the question of how far it can go… Well, when I tell people that it can go 53 miles, sometimes they reply with “Is that all?” I think a lot of people don’t have a good conception of how far a mile is, much less 53 of them. I think a lot of people just fill up their tanks, run it until its empty and then fill it up again. They simply don’t pay attention to how far they have driven. I’ve devised a little trip, designed to help you better understand how far this car can go in electric mode.
I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Now to give you an idea of how large this metro area is: DFW is essentially the same size as the entire state of Connecticut! And, by shear coincidence, if you were to start at the west end of loop 820 and drive to the east end of 635, it is exactly 53 miles!
For my trip, I am going to start in Downtown Fort Worth, sometimes referred to locally as Cow Town. I took a stroll through the water gardens. This is an amazing place that I recommend people visit, and for those nerds who follow me, you might recognize the water gardens from the cult sci-fi classic Logan’s Run, which was filmed here! I ten took a short walk back to my car, which I left at a public charging station at a local Walgreens. The reason being, I wanted to start my journey with a full charge. So with the car fully charged and the trip meter set to zero, I started my journey!
So I left Fort Worth and headed towards Dallas.I’m going to try to do the speed limit, because I want to be realistic with this trip. Electric vehicles are kind of opposite of gasoline vehicles. They actually perform better in city traffic at lower speeds as far as efficiency goes. For doing a range test, driving on the highway is going to be putting it to a really good test. If it will go this far on the highway, you know it will go that much further in the city.
At about half way between Fort Worth and Dallas, we decided to take a little detour. Just right off the freeway, I wanted to show you another important landmark of Dallas/Fort Worth. I stopped by the Dallas Cowboy’s Stadium in Arlington! At this point we’ve traveled 16.1 miles. The car’s computer is telling me I can still travel another 43 miles on battery power. Now, I am not a big sports fan, but I have been told that this is a great place to come in the even of a tornado, because there’s zero chance of a touchdown happening here.
After a long drive we were finally approaching downtown Dallas. Once we arrived in downtown, we looked at the computer and had traveled 36.1 miles and have been traveling on the road for an hour and ten minutes! And we have use just a little over half of the range of the battery. The computer is telling me I still have 19 miles left. There are some charging stations in this area, but I have decided not to use them because that would kind of defeat the whole purpose of what we are trying to do here. We’re trying to see how far it goes until it runs out!
We decided to get out and walk to another landmark just down the street. This is the Kennedy Memorial. The location of the assassination of John F. Kennedy back in November of 1963. The X in the road is the location of Kennedy’s car when he was assassinated.
Now it’s time to leave Dallas and head back to Fort Worth. We made it back to Arlington when the car ran out of energy and seamlessly switched to gasoline mode. Again, its seamless. We didn’t have to do anything. Looking at the computer we did travel 49.1 miles on electric. It’s pretty hot outside and the air conditioning has been running pretty hard. That probably did eat a few miles of the range in this test.
Now to answer the question of how far it can go? If you drive in gasoline mode, it can go as far as you want it to, and you’ll get 42 mpg while doing it. So on to the next big question. How much?
The list price for the base model starts at $33,220. But looking at my window sticker, I have a base model with a few upgrades. This car is priced out at $36,375. Of course, I didn’t pay anywhere near that much for this car. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to afford this car if I had to pay that much for it.
I started off with a $2739 discount as family member of an employee. Then I got $500 off because I had a competing lease on a Nissan Leaf that my wife is driving. Follow that up with a $7500 tax rebate from the Federal Government. The amount I actually paid for the car is $25,996, which puts it at the same ballpark as a Prius. According to Chevrolet’s website you can also lease one for $299 a month with no money down. So why would anyone buy a Prius over a 2017 Chevrolet Volt? I have no idea!
2017 Chevrolet Volt Charging Time
Another extremely common question I get asked is “How long does it take the car to charge?” That’s a perfectly valid question, but also extremely annoying. Why? Because there is no one specific answer. There are so many variables that account for how long it takes to charge. It charges in four and a half hours from a commercial charging station, or a from a 240V station in your garage. Now, keep in mind that is 4.5 hours if the battery has to charge from completely empty! But let’s be honest. With 53 miles of range its probably pretty rare that you’ll be charging a completely empty battery. Most realistically, most charge will start from half full (or even more). This means the average charge will be much shorter – closer to 2 hours.
If you decide to charge from the included 120v charging cable that plugs into a standard outlet, it can range from 13 hours on a 12 amp socket to 18 hours on an 8 amp socket, assuming your starting on an empty battery. Unfortunately the volt does not support fast charging.