Hybrid! When the Chevrolet Volt debuted last year, most thought the new Chevy was all electric.
The Volt is essentially a plug-in hybrid, meaning it has the ability to run much faster and farther with just electric power than a normal hybrid. In the Chevy Volt’s case, this means up to 100 mph and 25-50 driven miles without using a drop of gasoline.
Once the Volt runs out of battery power, the gasoline-powered inline-4 engine kicks in, producing electricity for the motor and actually powering the wheels in some circumstances, stretching the Volt’s range to an additional 300 miles. The Volt is said to be the most advanced hybrid to date and possibly the most fuel-efficient car available. We use the word “possibly” loosely because the Volt’s fuel economy can’t be measured in an conventional way. It all depends on how it is driven.
If you’re looking at a 30-mile round-trip commute and you plug in the Volt every night when you get home (a full charge requires as few as 3 hours), give yourself a pat on the back. Your fuel economy would be infinite because you’d always be running off battery power and therefore never using your gas supply.
Now consider a 60-mile round trip commute. In this case you’d be using gasoline for driving about 30 miles each day, which means fueling regularly; averaging the Volt at 31.4 mpg in mixed driving. How far you routinely drive would be a large factor in determining how economical the Volt would be to you. Potential owners will likely be able to take advantage of the Volt’s electrical range and electric costs for recharging are a fraction for the equivalent amount of gasoline.
The 2012 Chevrolet Volt represents an agreeable middle ground between a pure electric vehicle—usually limited to about 75 miles before a time-consuming recharge—and a standard hybrid—not offering the all-electric range and speed of the Volt.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
- 17” alloy wheels
- Automatic headlights
- Heated mirrors
- Keyless ignition/entry
- Remote ignition
- Automatic climate control
- Cruise control
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror
- 6-way manual front seats
- Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
- Cloth upholstery
- 6-speaker sound system with:
- CD player
- Auxiliary audio jack
- iPod/USB interface
Powertrains and Performance
The front wheel drive 2012 Volt is primary powered by an electric motor related at 149 hp—111 kilowatts—and 273 lb/ft of torque. The motor draws power from a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack until 20% of the battery power remains. At that point, the Volt’s 1.4L 4 cylinder internal combustion engine, requiring premium fuel, comes to life as a replacement power source for the electric motor.
The battery can be completely recharged through either a 120- or 240-volt outlet, but regenerative braking and the engine generator can replenish it slightly.
Arguable the most fuel-efficient car on the market, the 2012 Chevy Volt holds a low monthly fuel cost in normal driving with 95 city/93 hwy mpg. A useful 300-mile maximum range, appealing standard features and excellent crash test scores make the Volt a great car for cosmopolitan driving and short trips to the grocery store and bank. The 2012 Chevrolet Volt has great possibility and can take you far.