Unlike conventional hybrids, which drive the wheels with electric or gas power, the Volt is a battery-powered electric car that has a gas-powered range-extending generator onboard to keep the car going if the charge runs out. The Volt is essentially a four-door hatchback family car with two rear seats separated by a console that houses part of the car's long, T-shaped battery pack.
New for 2013
The Volt gets a slight increase in estimated EV driving range, up to 38 miles max per charge compared to last year's 35. A new Hold drive mode now allows owners to conserve battery charge for use in the most efficient way. All models now get a body-colored roof and rear liftgate. A new Silver Topaz Metallic exterior color and Pebble Beige interior finishes are available. New interior options include heated cloth seats, a removable rear armrest and GPS navigation to accompany the MyLink information and entertainment system. The Volt also gets new advanced safety features like available lane departure warning and forward collision alert technology.
The Volt is unmistakable as a recent Chevy design, and though its profile and rear hatch design suggest it's something different, it's not as conspicuously styled as some efficient cars, including the Nissan Leaf. The front grille looks like it allows little cooling air into the engine compartment and it's true, but plenty of air enters through an opening low on the bumper.
As expected, the Volt has two places to "fuel" up: a conventional gas filler door on the right rear fender and a charging port on the driver-side front fender. Exterior features include:
- LED daytime running lights
- Body-colored roof and deck lid
- Power-adjustable heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals
- Seventeen-inch aluminum wheels
- Available front and rear parking sensors
The Volt's cabin seats four and is outfitted with cloth seats; leather is an option. At 10.6 cubic feet, cargo volume is modest for a car of this size, and especially for a hatchback, which typically provides more space than a trunk. Interior features include:
- Automatic air conditioning
- Touch-sensitive center controls
- Cruise control
- Manually adjustable front seats
- Folding rear seats with optional armrest
- CD stereo with 7-inch touch-screen, MP3 jack and USB input
- Standard MyLink multimedia system with available navigation
- Bluetooth cellphone connectivity; Bluetooth streaming audio through the MyLink system
- Pandora and Stitcher compatibility with connected smartphone (MyLink)
- Available Bose premium speakers
Under the Hood
For electric-only operation, the 350-volt, 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack propels the car with 149 horsepower and 273 pounds-feet of torque. When the battery is depleted, a 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine kicks in with 84 hp to drive an electric generator. The Volt requires premium gasoline.
Chevrolet estimates a fully depleted Volt battery will recharge in 10 to 12 hours using common 120-volt household power. With 240 volts — which requires a charging station — the time drops to four hours. The charging station is sold separately, with installation extra. The car allows owners to schedule charging times to take advantage of off-peak rates. An application for smartphones gives owners remote control over this feature along with detailed monitoring capability. Mechanical features include:
- Front-wheel drive
- Electrically assisted power steering
- New battery conserving driving mode
Safety features include:
- Front-row knee airbags
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags
- Antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system
- OnStar, which includes automatic rescue notification in the event of an airbag deployment
- Available lane departure warning
- Available forward collision alert
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