So that’s the first and most impressive thing to note: it has the longest EV range of any PHEV (53 miles, before the 300-400 more on gas), and it’s the ONLY PHEV where the gas engine will NEVER come on unless a) you tell it to or b) you’ve completely drained the battery.
Quality is impressive. The car seems to have been machined from a single billet of titanium–it’s a really stiff structure. The leather on the steering wheel and seats is excellent: a supple-yet-grippy high-quality hide. The Bose stereo sounds nice and it’s a reasonably priced standalone option–you don’t have to step up a trim level just to order it. The LED headlights are brilliant, literally. The infotainment system is flawless and quick, projecting your phone onto the dash touchscreen and integrating it into the radio, and responding to taps, swipes, and voice commands.
The seats are very comfortable in all but one respect: you can’t tilt up the front of the bottom cushion for leg support. Also, it’s hard to know where to rest your left foot: the wheel well puts the dead pedal pretty far back, so you’ll want to stick your left foot under the brake pedal…not the safest idea.
I joke that this is the real reason they give us the regen-on-demand paddle on the steering wheel and the L mode on the shifter, which let you brake the car by pressing the paddle or lifting off the gas, respectively.
The car feels heavy for its size but well-balanced and glued to the ground. The ride is supple but sporty: honestly I wouldn’t mind trading the ground-hugging short-travel suspension for something cushier, but it’s not going to offend anyone. It is low, though, so plan on approaching driveways at an angle and stopping short of parking-stall bollards, or you may lose your rubber front spoiler.
Power and responsiveness are excellent, especially around town with Sport mode on, with a VERY quick 0-30 time of 2.5 seconds and a 0-60 time of 7.4. It doesn’t lack for passing power either.
Although it’s attractively styled inside and out, the hardest obstacle to overcome is that the Volt looks a little bit like a Cruze and yet it costs as much as a BMW. But lease deals and incentives are frequently available to make the car as cheap to lease or buy as a Prius.
It’s hard to see out of: the A pillars are huge, the beltline is high, the hatchback glass is nearly horizontal. Optional safety packages compensate nicely for that with cameras and sensors and automatic whatnot, but you shouldn’t have to drop another four figures to make your car safe to drive. Especially galling: You have to order every option, on the highest trim level, before Chevy will equip your car with adaptive cruise control.
The back seat lacks headroom, so despite large comfy cushions and adequate legroom, it’s not for tall adults. But the cargo hold is plenty big. I’ve folded down the rear seats, stuck my legs under the hatchback area, and taken a nap in the car (curled up, of course).
There’s no fast-charge provision…and even Level 2 charging is about half as fast per unit of battery as most pure electrics. Your “fast charger” is your gas tank! But you can fill the battery overnight even out of a regular wall outlet, so you start each day with a full battery.
There are a few too many bits of hard plastic for a car in this price class, and that cost cutting gets more obvious the further back in the cabin you go, with rock-hard rear door panels, a flimsy charger compartment door that literally falls off when opened (no hinges), and a cargo cover that’s literally just a piece of stretchy fabric.
If it sounds like I’m really reaching to find anything to complain about, you’re right. There’s very little wrong with this car, and a lot right about it.