2011 Chevy Volt: Discovering Quirks

After our road trip from Los Angeles to Chicago, we discovered many quirks and a few downright annoyances of our just-purchased Chevy Volt.

  • Touchy touch-screen: The Volt has a capacitive-touch center console, like the new MyFord Touch. When selecting a button — say, the navigation system — we’d often rest our other fingers on the console and inadvertently hit the Info button or some other button. That led to some amusing and unintended consequences.
  • Visibility issues: The Volt is a four-door hatchback, but it’s on the smaller side. There’s plenty of room in the front row for driver and passenger, but the B-pillar is awfully far forward. A couple of times, I had to lean back and look out behind the B-pillar to see if I could complete a lane change. In addition, the split rear window makes rear visibility worse than it should be, a la the Toyota Prius.
  • Meep-meep: The Volt comes with sensors, front and back, that warn you when the low-to-the-ground car is getting close to objects. However, it’s extremely sensitive, and loud. The dealer who walked us through the car pointed out the button that controls the beeping; it didn’t take us five minutes to turn it off.

  • Triple Lutz: When you shut down the engine, get out of the car and close the door, the Volt responds with a triple-honk sound. Get in and out of the car enough times in a single day, as we often did, and it gets old fast.
  • Gassing up: Chevy has added a safety feature to make sure you’re safe when filling the gas tank. The gas cap has a traditional push-to-open cap, but it’s vacuum-locked until the driver pushes a button under the armrest of the driver’s door. The dash reads, “Waiting to refuel” before reading “Ready to refuel.” The whole process takes no more than 10 seconds, but it’s more work than the typical car.
  • Where’s the (parking) brake?: The Volt uses an electronic parking brake similar to the Prius, Subaru Outback and a number of luxury cars. But the button to set it (and release it), along with the display on the dash, are hard to find, even after our few days of testing.
  • Do ya, do ya, do ya?: While it’s cool that the built-in navigation system can warn you of traffic delays — and even suggest alternative routes — it really doesn’t want to hear “No” from drivers. We turned down a suggested change a half-dozen times over the course of 100 miles before we decided to take the advice. It was more than a little Big Brother-like.
  • Lowdown: The Volt rides very close to the ground. We heard a slight scraping noise many times going in and out of driveways. We assume this was done for aerodynamic reasons, but it’s definitely something you’ll need to be aware of, especially if you live in a Western state where driveways are very steep to assist in draining rainwater.
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    Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen was born and raised in California. He loves pickup trucks and drivers who pay attention.  Email Patrick