Chevrolet Volt Review | Ultimate Guide

Chevrolet Volt Gen 1 and 2 Review

Chevrolet Volt Changes

Lets just say, the Volt had a good run. What started out as being a rather groundbreaking car that took North America by storm, progressed into a PROPER plug-in hybrid. Let’s look into each model year and what changes occurred:

  • 2011 Chevy Volt (Was all new for that year).
  • 2012 Chevy Volt (MyLink entertainment system, keyless entry system and 17” inch aluminum wheels. Also Turn-by-Turn Navigation included with OnStar).
  • 2013 Chevy Volt (Slight increase in range from 35 to 38. New “Hold Mode” allowing users to conserve battery modes for later use. New Silver Topaz Metallic exterior color and Pebble Being interior finish become available. Heated cloth seats, removable armrest and GPS navigation to accompany the MyLink infotainment system. Lastly, the Volt also gets lane departure warning and forward collision warning system).
  • 2014 Chevy Volt (Price dropped to $34,995).
  • 2015 Chevy Volt (OnStar communication system now features 4G LTE connectivity as well as built-in Wi-Fi hot spot).
  • 2016 Chevy Volt (Fully redesigned exterior and interior. There is now 5 seatbelt, allowing a fifth passenger to sit in-between the center-bulge in the backseat. Slightly bigger engine going from 1.4L to 1.5L. More efficient drivetrain and an increase in range from 38 miles to 53 miles / 17.1kW to 18.4kW).
  • 2017 Chevy Volt (No major improvements).
  • 2018 Chevy Volt (LT Driver Confidence Package includes rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot warning).
  • 2019 Chevy Volt (New options to charge from 3.3kW to 7.2kW, cutting down he charge time to just 2.3 hrs using level 2 charging. “Tire-Fill” alert happens when you reached your desired tire pressure).

Buying a Chevrolet Volt

Back in 2011 when the first generation of the Volt came on the market, a good reason to buy the Volt was to dip your toes into the “electric vehicle” scene. While it may be a plug-in hybrid, at the time many thought of it as a revolutionary automobile that looked much different from anything else driving on the road.

Fastforward to today in 2019, the last year model of the Chevy Volt has evolved to be MORE fuel efficient, BETTER looking, and arguably one of the best plug-in hybrids you can buy today.

The different is quite drastic between he 1st and 2nd generation. I recommend you buy either generation, depending on your budget. If you want the MOST value for your money, consider buying the 2013 model year for the 1st generation, and the 2016 model year for the 2nd generation.

New Volt Prices:

2011: $39,995

2012: $39,145

2013: $39,145

2014: $34,995

2015: $34,345

2016: $33,170

2017: $33,220

2018: $33,220

2019: $33,520

Used Volt Prices:​

2011: $6,000-$10,000

2012: $7,000-$12,000

2013: $7,000-$14,000

2014: $8,000-$14,000

2015: $10,000-$15,000

2016: $12,000-$20,000

2017: $15,000-$23,000

2018: $21,000-$30,000

2019: $25,000-$33,000

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 11.30.34 AM
1st Gen VOLT
Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 11.31.25 AM
2nd Gen VOLT

Chevrolet Volt Specs

  • Years in Production: 2011-2019
  • Trim Levels: LT and Premier
  • Engine: 1.4L cylinder (gen1) and 1.5L 4-cylinder (gen2)
  • Battery Capacity: 16.5-17.1kW (gen1) and 18.4kW (gen2)
  • Fuel Type: Gasoline & Electric
  • Fuel Capacity: 9.3 gallons (gen1) and 8.9 gallons (gen2)
  • Fuel Economy: 35 city / 40 highway (gen1) and 43 city / 42 highway (gen2)
  • Electric Range: 35 miles (2011-2012), 38 miles (2013-2015), 53 miles (2016-2019)
  • Charge Times: 10-16 hrs at 110-120v (gen1), 12-19 hrs at 110-120v (gen2) @ 4 hrs at 220-240v (gen1), 2.3-4.5 hrs at 220-240v (gen2)

Why the Chevrolet Volt?

What started as an uncertain and rather expensive car from Chevrolet back in 2011, has morphed into one of the most competitive plug-in hybrid cars on the market today.

Lets take a look at the 1st generation and what made it great back then, and what makes it great TODAY.

From 2011 to 2015, the Chevrolet Volt managed to capture a fairly big market share of people who buy hybrid and electric vehicles. They made their car a halfway point between people wanted the everyday convenience of driving a car with a gasoline engine, and being able to cover small short distances (15-20 miles each way) without burning a drop of fuel.

If you asked most people, their commute to work is nowhere near 30-40 miles. Being able to at least go one way on pure electric tends to save people money in the long run (at least $1,000 per year in fuel costs).

Chevrolet did a great job at making the car efficient. It isn’t uncommon to get MORE range than you started with.

*There was a range test done driving with 33 miles to empty in the beginning, once everything was all said and done, the car drove just over 45 miles. It can go THAT much further.

While the 1st gen brand new was at least 30K USD brand new, but with depreciation… an early model (2011-2014) can be had for less than 10K USD.

Now with the 2nd generation Chevy Volt, they took what was good and made it even better!

While depreciation has not taken the full effect, there’s a noticeable different between the price of when they were new and their current market value (2016-2017 models). To many, the 2nd gen Chevy Volt is an electric car WITHOUT range anxiety.

How so?

Instead of the 35-38 miles of EV range the 1st gen got, you now get 53 miles of EV range (better if driven below highway speeds). For at least 90% of the people, that is EV range that people can live with.

If YOU want to:

  • Save money on fuel
  • Be more eco friendly
  • Don’t spend a LOAD of money on an efficient automobile
  • Want to drive something cool

The Chevy Volt is for you. THAT is why you buy one.

Chevrolet Volt PRO's

Things to LIKE about the Chevrolet Volt

As you read above about the reasons why you should buy a Chevrolet Volt, here’s a complete list of the POSITIVE aspects of the car. It’s broken down in numerical order so you the MOST important things about this car from 1st and 2nd generation.

  1. When you get in either Chevy Volts, you’ll notice immediately that they ride very smooth. There’s good ride quality and things don’t rattle around easy.

  2. Especially when in EV mode, the cars are very quiet. Specifically when you take the 2nd generation Volt, the noise isolation from the outside is VERY noticeable. One of the quietest cars I’ve driven.

  3. You gotta give them credit for creating a TRULY good plug-in hybrid with range people can live with. Whether you’re looking at the Volt from the 1st gen or the Volt from the 2nd gen… 35-53 miles is plenty.

  4. You can get a full battery charged in both generations in 2.3-4.5 hours using level 2 charging.

  5. If last time you saw these when they were brand new, look again. The 2011-2014 models can often be found for less than 10K USD. Occasionally, the 2nd gen Volt can be found with high miles for 11-12K (as of 2019).

  6. These cars are reliable. More reliable than your traditional Chevrolet. The way their drivetrain is setup, there’s FAR LESS friction and strain that is being put on the driveshafts and engine components.

  7. Opening up the trunk in both body styles, you’ll see there’s plenty of room. Fold down the backseats, and you now have 2X more room. There’s so much room, that any medium height person can lay flat.

  8. Once the battery drains and its time for the gas engine to start running, you will usually get at least 300 miles of fossil range. those 300+ miles come from a 8-9 gallon fuel tank.

Chevrolet Volt CON's

Things NOT TO LIKE about the Chevrolet Volt

As much as I wanted to say this is the (current) perfect plug-in hybrid for everyone, this car has some issues that need to be addressed. We can all agree that there’s NO perfect car. In this list, I break down the main concerns that I think you should be aware of:

  • All models from 2011-2018 had the mediocre level 2 charging speed of 3.3kW/h. It wasn’t until in 2019 that you got an option for 7.2kW/h charging. While the battery pack isn’t huge, the charging speed still takes a good while to reach 100%.
  • The backseat space is rather cramped. This can be said more for the 2nd generation Volt than the 1st generation Volt. While the 2011-2015 model managed to make it clear that no more than 2 passengers should be in the backseats, the 2016-2019 models tried to work around that. Technically there’s 3 seat belts in the backseat of the 2nd gen Volt, but comfort level will be compromised.
  • The 2011-2015 Chevy Volt requires Premium gasoline (91-93 octane). This is strange for a non-luxury automobile to require this type of fuel.

Chevrolet Volt's Closest Competitors

There’s quite a few plug-in hybrids today, more than ever before. Below I’ll break down the top 4 PHEV’s which compete with the Chevrolet Volt:  

2017-2019 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime

The new and improved Toyota Prius is now PRIME. See exactly how this car stacks up:

  • Engine: 1.8L 4-Cylinder
  • Battery Capacity: 8.8kW
  • Fuel Type: Gas & Electric
  • Fuel Economy: 53 highway/55 city
  • Electric Range: 25 miles 
  • Charge Times: 6.5 hrs @ 110-120v and 2.25 hrs @ 220-240v
  • Used Values: $20,000-$30,000

2018-2019 Honda Clarity PHEV

Untitled design (39)

Honda’s first serious plug-in hybrid. The Clarity PHEV is a serious contender, see how this car stacks up:

  • Engine: 1.5L 4-cylinder
  • Battery Capacity: 17.0kW
  • Fuel Type: Gas & Electric
  • Fuel Economy: 40 highway/44 city
  • Electric Range: 47 miles
  • Charge Times: 2.5 hrs @ 220volt and 12 hrs @ 110volt
  • Used Values: $23,000-$32,000

2016-2017 Hyundai Sonata PHEV

Untitled design - 2019-04-25T022449.347

Compromise nothing and get over 25 miles of EV range. The Hyundai Sonata PHEV is an excellent competitor. See how it stacks up:

  • Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder
  • Battery Capacity: 9.8kW
  • Fuel Type: Gas & Electric
  • Fuel Economy: 40 highway/36 city
  • Electric Range: 27 miles
  • Charge Times: 8.5 hrs @ 110-120v and 2.5 hrs @ 220-240v
  • Used Values: $16,000-$21,000

2013-2019 Ford Fusion Energi

Untitled design - 2019-04-25T022737.333

One of the earliest full size plug-in hybrid sedans, the Fusion Energi is a great competitor. See how it stacks up:

  • Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder
  • Battery Capacity: 7.6kW
  • Fuel Type: Gas & Electric
  • Fuel Economy: 41 highway/44 city
  • Electric Range: 20 miles
  • Charge Times: 7 hrs @ 110-120v and 2.5 hrs @ 220-240v
  • Used Values: $8,000-$18,000
  •  

To Sum It Up

Buy the Chevy Volt, it’s the BEST value plug-in hybrid on the market right now. At the moment, no car offers 35-40 miles of EV range in a Plug-In Hybrid automobile for less than 10K USD.

While both generations of the Volt aren’t luxury cars by any stretch, if you end up getting the “fully-loaded” trims, you’ll notice a level of refinement that isn’t there in the base trims.

At the end of the day, when ever in doubt, resort back to this guide and find the information you need.

It gets AvtoWow’s “Seal of Approval”.

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