2012 Chevy Volt More Miss Than Hit for This Family

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When a 2012 version showed up at my Colorado home for a weeklong test, I wanted to see how it would handle the arduous tasks an average suburban family would put it through, including driving carpool, running errands and loading up all the kids’ stuff. My family’s verdict on the Volt was a mixed bag, but there were more misses than hits.

Of course since the Volt only seats four, this car will only work for small families. I have two daughters, ages 9 and 11, but every other weekend we become a family of five when my 7-year-old stepdaughter is with us. With the Volt, we had to divide and conquer. My family caravanned in two cars when we wanted to go somewhere as a family. Many families I know occasionally need that extra middle seat in the back (picking up an extra body for a sleepover, anyone?), so based on seating capacity alone, we’d lean toward the five-seat Nissan Leaf if we were going to purchase an alternative fuel vehicle.

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The Volt’s split glass hatchback cuts down on rear visibility. My test car did not come equipped with the optional backup camera, but I found that this would be a must-have for anyone driving this car, especially families. According to our friends at, more than 50 children are backed over every week in the U.S. Poor rear visibility just isn’t a compromise I’m willing to risk my children’s safety on.

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The Volt’s charging cable is stored under the cargo floor. When my daughter and I pulled up to a free charging station and opened up the cargo floor, she said, “What is that thing! It looks like a man tool.” The cord itself is large, a little bit heavy and definitely unruly. Add to that the abundance of “Risk of Electric Shock” stickers and I quickly relegated my daughter to the position of a pouty observer rather than a participant while I figured out what to plug where.

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For me, driving the Volt was just as satisfying as driving any other hybrid out there, which is to say somewhat boring. I like an exhilarating driving experience as much as anyone … after the kids are dropped off, of course.

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Former Senior Family Editor Kristin Varela blends work and family life by driving her three tween-teen girls every which way in test cars. Email Kristin Varela

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