2013 Chevrolet Volt Internal Combustion>

There are times when having a plug-in hybrid vehicle just doesn’t work. I live in a condo in downtown Long Beach and there were no available outlets for the 2013 Chevrolet Volt to recharge during our week together, so after 37 miles it was all liquid fuel for us.

That was quite an unfortunate occurrence, as the Volt is quite happy being plugged in overnight using standard electric power (4 hours on 240V) and runs happily around town without having to sip an ounce of gasoline. Alas, after a jaunt home from the airport (17 miles) and a trip to the local organic market, electric power was gone, and along with it the lovely low-end torque and silent running.

Ah, well, I had to use the 2013 Chevy Volt like a normal passenger car, and at that it quite excels. A four-passenger front-wheel-drive hatchback sedan, the Volt was waiting at the airport dressed in Silver Ice metallic with jet black interior. it’s a handsome car, one that’s unmistakably a Chevy Volt and nothing else, with its blocked grille and upswept rear end with enviable glass area that creates less of a blind spot.
The interior of the Volt is different from most cars in that all controls on the central stack are flush and use touch tapping to activate. Because they all look alike, it takes a while to figure out which one is which, but after a day or so it’s all intuitive. The seats are extremely comfortable for the short trips I took and all other controls fall readily to hand. Rear hatch space is great and leftover is minimal.
The Volt is no lightweight at 3781 pounds, housing both the Ecotec 1.4-liter internal combustion range-extender engine and Chevy’s Voltec electric drive system with a 16.5-kW lithium-ion battery pack. Together they’re rated for a total of 382 miles range, while the EPA states the Volt should go 38 miles on a single charge.
Volt rides serenely over the road, handling bumps efficiently with its MacPherson strut front suspension and compound crank rear. Turning circle is a very good 36 feet and four-wheel ABS brakes bring this sedan to a tidy halt. Steering is a bit on the light and vague side to me, but my preference is always for a bit of heft. Stability control is standard.

There’s a bit of sticker shock involved here, but local governments do give incentives for this hybrid, also allowing it to travel with single occupant in high occupancy lanes. The standard price begins at $39,995 including freight and Chevy packed this car with leather-wrapped, heated seats, leather steering wheel and a removable armrest for the rear seat. There was also an auto-dimming rear mirror, rear park assist with camera, front park assist, together with forward collision alert and lane departure warning. Chevy also fit the MyLink radio with a very good navigation system, polished aluminum wheels and a Bose premium speaker system that boosted the price to $44,545.
I like the Turning Earth center target that tells you when you’re being good to the car, which I generally try to do. It was fun playing that game throughout our stay together. The ECO button showed that I was always over 80 percent for driving style and climate control use in the energy efficiency department, which tells you I was driving like a granny.
Other things I like about the Volt is being able to enter and leave by pressing a button, pushbutton start/stop, a light dip for signals, manual front seats (to save weight, I’d bet), USB and a 12-volt in the center console, storage in the rear center armrest (but no air conditioning to the rear). There are nice door closures and remotes on the door for fuel and the plug-in release.
The steering wheel has requisite cruise, audio and phone controls on it. There’s a lot of hard plastic on this car but some soft touch atop the dash. I like the Goodyear 215/55R tires mounted on 5-spoke polished 17-inch rims; they do present a handsome, finished look to the car.
The Chevrolet Volt has been on the market since 2012 and is well-seasoned at this point to appeal to a majority of consumers. You don’t need a hair-shirt philosophy to be “green” in a Chevy Volt; it’s got all the essentials any modern driver wants and needs in an efficient and comfortable package.

Written by: Anne Proffit HerHighway Contributor and Edited by Christina Selter