2011 Chevrolet Volt Review – Our Weekend With Chevy's New EV/Hybrid and a Prius

Chevrolet Expert Reviews hybrid


The big difference in driving between the Volt and the Prius is 500 pounds; this affects everything from acceleration to braking to handling. Don’t get us wrong, the Volt hits 60 mph in the low eight second range, which is a full two seconds faster than the Prius. The Volt also delivers equivalent braking and handling, and the suspension and chassis feel more capable, which is impressive given the weight difference.

Chevrolet Volt demonstrating cargo capacityToyota Prius demonstrating cargo capacity

You can imagine if the same Volt package weighed 500 pounds less; far more impressive performance, handling, braking, and mileage. The weight does provide some advantages, as the Volt feels planted and solid when driving in town or on the freeway, and it actually feels safer than the Prius. The wheelbase of the Prius is a little longer than the Volt, but because of the weight, the Volt feels smoother.

Tire/road noise was an instant complaint once the Volt was up to speed, but this could also be due to the inherently quiet electric drivetrain, which seems to make other noises that are much more apparent. Chevrolet managed to achieve an impressive 0.28 coefficient of drag, but doing so required a front rubber spoiler that sits a little over four inches from the ground, so parking and driveways will be a challenge. These few issues aside, the Volt feels safe and smooth, and should be more than satisfactory for commute duty.

Comfort and Convenience
In order to save some weight and cost, the Volt came with manually adjustable seats, which although comfortable, made switching drivers a chore. The lack of lumbar support for long drives highlighted what manual seats lack. The Volt is strictly a four seater, while the Prius offers room for one more. Rear seat legroom and headroom was very good for a car that is slightly shorter than the Prius.

Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius

Even though the Volt is a wider car, it offered less space in the rear hatch area compared to the Prius. A large suitcase and ice chest can fit with the hatch closed, but oddly enough there is a little more side room in the narrower Prius. The Volt also required one to lift items from the hatch area due to a rear step, while cargo just slides out of the Prius.

Then there’s the whole issue of having to charge the car every night, only to yield 35 EV miles from a 10 hour 120V charge. There was a public ChargePoint station about two miles away, but it would require leaving the car there a few hours to attain a full charge on 220V, and it was in the middle of nowhere, so we passed on that option. To gain full advantage of the Volt, owners will need to install a 220V charging station at home. Finally, the supplied charger release trigger broke, making it difficult to release from the car. We know it’s a first design unit, so subsequent designs are sure to be better.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Recommend to Buy

The Volt has a unique look, drives smoothly, accelerates well, makes entertaining Transformers sounds, and is reasonably comfortable. The car makes you feel eco-smart right from the start. Sure the Volt has some first year teething issues, like door panel rattles, poor fitting weather-strips, an awkward user interface, simple seats, and only a 35 mile EV range, but we give Kudos to GM for moving forward with this platform and we hope it will spawn other EV applications. Until then, the green enthusiast masses will likely give their nod to the Prius, for its greater practicality, convenience and lower cost of ownership.

2011 Chevrolet Volt 2011 Chevrolet Volt First Impressions Review – Driving the Chevy Volt
By David Colman

“The best part of owning a Volt is staying green without being a dolt. Unlike the Leaf’s ToonTown caricature face, the Volt looks slick and futuristic without pandering to stylistic digression.”

2011 Chevrolet Volt 2011 Chevrolet Volt First Impressions Review – Yes, it drives like a real car
By Derek Mau

“Typical of all battery-electric cars, there is no audio cue to signify the car is alive. Switching on the ignition, the driver is treated to a light show displayed in the instrument cluster.”

2011 Chevrolet Volt The Wait is Finally Over! 2011 Chevrolet Volt Pricing Announced
By Derek Mau

“After nearly four years of development and extensive testing with the pre-production models, General Motors has officially announced pricing and has begun taking customer orders for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt in seven select markets starting today.”

Chevrolet Volt Chevy Volt On Schedule for November 2010 Debut
By Tony B.

“Despite all of the economic turmoil swirling around General Motors these days, they still say everything is on track for the late 2010 debut of the Chevy Volt plug in hybrid.”

Chevrolet Volt Flint Gets a Jolt From The Volt
By m35man

“Instead of constructing a whole new factory to make engines for its new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle, General Motors has decided to build them in an existing facility located in Flint, Michigan.”

Chevrolet Volt Unveiled Chevrolet Volt Unveiled
By Derek Mau

“General Motors continues to develop its gas-electric plug-in car called the Volt and unveiled a pre-production model at GM’s 100-year anniversary celebration.”

Chevrolet Volt Concept Chevrolet Volt Development Charges On
By Derek Mau

“A few months ago we had the opportunity to get a close look at the Chevy Volt Concept and speak with key people surrounding the project. Whenever GM releases news that the Volt is getting closer to its 2010 production date, we get all tingly inside.”

Chevrolet Volt Concept Chevy Volt Waiting List Hits 10,000 Members
By Derek Mau

“Today we have hit a major milestone. 10,000 people have signed up on our waiting list, expressing their desire to buy a Chevy Volt. This site was started on January 12, 2007 in response to GM unveiling the Chevy Volt five days earlier.”

Chevrolet Volt Concept First Look – Chevy Volt Concept Car
By Kurt Gensheimer

“There is no debating the visual aesthetics of the Volt. It’s a sharp-looking machine. Whoever established the precedent that eco-friendly cars must resemble disfigured spacecraft obviously didn’t affect GM designers when creating the Volt.”

Chevrolet Volt Concept Video Chevrolet Volt Concept Car – video feature
By Derek Mau

“Kurt interviews Clay O. of GM and picks up a few details of the upcoming Chevy Volt and the new E-Flex system.”

Chevrolet Volt Concept General Motors’ Chevy Volt Concept Makes Its Debut In San Francisco
By Derek Mau

“Extended-Range Electric Vehicle Will Electrify The City By The Bay”

Chevrolet Volt Compared w/Toyota Prius | 2011 Chevrolet Volt
Official website for Chevrolet cars, hybrids, trucks, and SUVs – www.chevrolet.com

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  • derek says:

    Chevrolet has opened the order window for the 2012 Volt to buyers in all 50 states. More good news is that the base price for the 2012 model was lowered by about $1000 by deleting some features. Four option packages were added for buyers who seek more amenities.

    The Volt was initially sold to Chevrolet customers in California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and Washington D.C. area. with a production run of 10,000 cars for the 2011 model year.

    Read more: http://www.freep.com/article/20110610/BUSINESS0101/110610016

  • Greg says:

    ***don’t have a tax liability

  • Greg says:

    Robert, the 7500 is not a rebate, but a credit. So if you have a tax liability, you aren’t getting the credit. The US taxpayer IS NOT financing the 7,500, it’s like mortgage interest. It’s just a tax on your income you don’t have to pay.

  • robert shelton says:

    I really resent giving $7,500 of my tax paid dollars to make the Volt acceptable. If is a good value on its own then it will sell. Why should the rest of the taxpayers still be helping General Motors out by subsiding this car?

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