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A Sampling of Chevy Volt Reviews: Mostly Positive

October 14, 2010

Mass-produced electric cars might be here to stay. Four automotive publication reviews of the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle were mostly positive, with one calling it "an undeniable engineering coup from GM."

Dave Wanderwerp of Car and Driver wrote that the Volt sets itself apart from the Nissan Leaf, mentioning the Volt's gas engine that can step in to extend the Volt's range when the battery's energy is depleted. He said that the dual-power source of the Volt, which GM calls "an extended-range vehicle," makes sense when so little charging infrastructure is available. If charged adequately, the Volt can operate continuously, at any speed, as an EV, without ever needing to switch on the gas engine. He said the Volt also operates seamlessly behind the wheel.

Steven Cole Smith of the Orlando Sentinel, in an article published in the Boston Herald, called the Volt "an undeniable engineering coup from GM," adding that acceleration was more than adequate ¾ with the equivalent of about 150 horsepower ¾ and you can hit 80 miles per hour easily. He added that the Volt is very comfortable, with plenty of room for four people. The Volt also handles well, he wrote, considering it is quite heavy for a small car.

Bob Gritzinger of Autoweek wrote that the car "actually does what GM said it would do": run on stored battery power or on range-extending, onboard-generated electric power, without any of the worries of having a dead battery.

Jonny Lieberman of Motor Trend was impressed with the Volt's miles per gallon after averaging 127 mpg on a 299-mile test drive in the greater Los Angeles area (covering freeways and mountain roads.) "Most other cars use up a tank of gas going 299 miles. The Volt ... used 2.36 gallons over 299 miles. That's freaking amazing!" Lieberman wrote.

The electric-only range of the Volt depends on driving conditions, such as traffic, grades and your driving style. However, Lieberman pointed out that the Volt's 127 mpg is fives times the average mileage of other cars and that it uses 80 percent less fuel than other vehicles.

Smith of the Orlando Sentinel noted that in terms of your budget, the Volt is not a good buy. The biggest criticism of the Chevrolet Volt, he wrote, is the price, $40,280, or a flat $41,000 with shipping. A $7,500 federal tax credit effectively lowers the price to $33,500.

And Gritzinger of Autoweek wrote that if you drive longer distances, forcing the gasoline engine to provide power for the extended range, fuel economy is realistically in the 38-mpg area, which is not class-leading mileage considering the high initial cost of the Volt.

But the compliments outweighed the criticisms in the four reviews. "As long as you don't run the 9.3-gallon gasoline tank dry, you'll never be stranded," Gritzinger wrote.

Check out editor Chris Brown's review of the Chevy Volt, click here.

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