Motor Trend Reviews 2014 Chevy Volt To Find Out How Its 2011 “Car Of The Year” Fares Today

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 35

Chevy Volt

Chevy Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt Interior

2014 Chevrolet Volt Interior

Back in 2011, shortly after the Chevrolet Volt debuted, Motor Trend magazine declared it the “2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year.

Several years have now passed since that declaration, so Motor Trend decided to take another look at the Chevy Volt to see how it fares against the competition today.

The verdict?  Summed up precisely in the last graph of Motor Trend’s rather lengthy 2014 Volt review:

“So, the Chevrolet Volt is safe and boasts a class-leading 38-mile EV range no one in the price segment has matched. While the extended-range plug-in hybrid technology is still in its first generation, the 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Volt are best suited for a tech nut or environmentally focused driver living in a two-car household. Use your significant other’s larger, five-passenger vehicle when you need to carry around another two or three people in comfort, but take the Volt when it’s just you and another person. The Volt is just as relevant as it was when it became our 2011 car of the year, so if you can stand the four-passenger layout and drive about 30-40 miles a day, consider the Chevrolet as we approach the debut of the new-for-2016 second-generation model.”

Source: MotorTrend

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35 responses to "Motor Trend Reviews 2014 Chevy Volt To Find Out How Its 2011 “Car Of The Year” Fares Today"

  1. Bill Howland says:

    Motor Trend is being a bit needlessly critical here: This is now my “Large” car, and my ‘for fun’ car is my Roadster.

    I’ve put the hatchback function to good use: its a wide eenough opening to ship bicycles, 55 ” televisions, (and 70″ ones and christmas trees on the roof).

    Its a good value even if you have to drive a bit more than 40 miles in a day, even this 2011 I have, since I still manage that without using gasoline.

    1. SIvad says:

      I agree. Even when I’m running in pure CS mode 8% of the time I get as good mpg as my wife’s 11′ Camry Hybrid. In fact she’s replacing it with a 2016 Volt for her 70 mile round trip daily commute.

      The Volt comes out ahead in cost per mile of even a Prius if you are driving 80 miles or less one way. With GA electricity rates and the current cost of premium gas it would cost me on average $4.10 to drive 80 miles in the Volt. A Prius getting 50 mpg combined with a regular gas price of $2.70 would cost $4.30. So if you commute 160 miles a day (which is almost no one) and have a place to charge near or at work then a Volt is more economical to operate than a Prius.

      1. MDEV says:

        And Volt has nicer design, Prius is an ugly appliance look car.

  2. Big Solar says:

    BTW Motor Trend, you can drive more than 40 miles per day all electric in a volt, they call it charging.

    1. ffbj says:

      Ya Burnt by Big Solar.

    2. vdiv says:

      158 miles in my case, but who’s counting 🙂

      http://voltstats.net that’s who 🙂

  3. Lou says:

    I am new to the Volt, but I agree with Bill’s comments. My family loves the Volt, even my adult daughter who is usually relegated to the back seat. Seats are comfortable, plenty of room(the car is much wider than my previous EV, a Mitsubishi I-MiEV). All of the “accoutraments” are much, much nicer…the ride is exceptionally smooth, the car takes bumps quite well. We also have a Kia Sedona mini-van and that only gets used 3X’s per week as my wife takes it to work. I drive her to work on weekends(she works in retail)since we all love driving in the Volt, and it’s a fraction of the cost to drive compared to the van. Heck, I was curious about how warm the car gets using the heater in winter, but so far I am very happy. Today it was 35 degrees F when I got in. It was preheated using the trickle charger and then I dropped the heat setting to ECO(70 degrees), I was quite fine with that. On the Mitsubishi, I was always afraid to run the heater full blast, concerned about the range hit(and that I would not be able to recharge fully as I do not have 240V charging at home, and no charging at work). The Volt has been everything I hoped it would be. It’s a MY 2012, I got a great deal on a low mileage used Volt, I recommend it to anyone who needs more mileage than the smaller battery EV’s can go. Still, I’d love to add a KIA Sould EV or top of the line LEAF to my stable and get rid of the mini-van, but that will have to wait a few years.
    Lou

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Speaking of heating, the engine starts at 26 degrees in my 2011 (I believe its the same in the 2012’s but senility is settling in and I can’t remember for sure), so I take advantage of that by turning the controls to ‘FAN ONLY’ (that is, no resistance heat), and turn the temp to 90), whenever the engine starts. The amount of heat is tremendous, even with the ‘heater’ ‘off’. The heater just gets a bit tempid and then the engine restarts to repeat the cycle,meanwhile you’re running the heat part of the heater totally on otherwise wasted engine heat. The efficiency of the ICE this way is extremely high, and you can go quite far until the battery is actually dead in cold weather. (In this mode, I use up the battery charge later on if I’m driving say 100 miles. But I also get most of the energy extracted from the gasoline, far more than I would with a plain old car, with plenty of heat, and little battery usage), and surprising little gas usage also.

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Hey Bill,

        The Volt is also smart enough to use the engine heat instead of the resistance heater. So once the coolant is warmed up from the engine, even if you have the heat set to Comfort, the Volt knows not to use the resistance heater.

        Fan Only can prevent the A/C cycling though, or prevent the resistive heater from running prior to the engine warming the coolant up enough. These contributions to energy use are minimal though by comparison.

        1. kubel says:

          What about someone like me that has a relatively short commute (lets say under 6 miles total per day). There’s really no reason to burn gas in situations like that, since the battery can supply more than enough energy for heating and propulsion without the need for gas.

          Yet if someone owned a Volt in that scenario in a state like Michigan, they will be burning gas more often than not through the winter months, even though they have a fully charged battery to work with.

          This is my biggest complaint with current generation Volts. I wish the car could let you choose whether or not you want to use the ICE for heat- without having to install a hacked sensor to trick the car into thinking it’s warmer than it is.

          1. ClarksonCote says:

            I agree completely for your scenario. It’s my scenario too.

            However, I’ll make two points here:
            1) The Volt will still use less gas on that trip than any other PHEV or ICE available today.
            2) There is some merit to running the engine occasionally in very cold weather, for the health of the engine.

            I do think they could design the system to avoid using gas more often though, if the driver wants to do so. Despite this, it’s infinitely better than, say, a Plug-in Prius, that has to run its engine whenever you want heat.

          2. Bill Howland says:

            Right you are.. That was one of my bugaboos with the 2011 volt,
            1). That, as a driver, you have no control over what the car does. I hate stuff that thinks its smarter than you are.

            2). That there’s no way to shut the traction control off, and you’re limited to 3 horsepower if you ever get stuck in the snow.

            Thankfully, for later Volt owners, both problems with improved with the 2013 model. You can now disable the traction control and you can choose when the engine starts:

            either at 15 or 35 degrees fahrenheit I believe are the 2 choices.

            I’m with you in that I’d leave the thing at 15 instead of 26 since there are plenty of days when I’d rather have the engine remain off.

            One feature to my knowledge still lacking, is there is apparently still no way to absolutely prevent the engine from running, so what I used to do is just run the car out of gas so that it couldn’t run. Unfortunately, that part of the car is stupid. It will burn out the fuel pump so I dont do that anymore.

  4. iwatson says:

    In the consumer reports review it says “it’s fine in a 2-car household where your significant other has a larger 5 passenger vehicle”. In our household, we started out with the Volt as my daily driver, but now it’s our bigger car. Used for my daily commute, plus it can haul the whole family if necessary (there are 4 of us), or take the occasional road trip. My wife’s car is a Mitsubishi i-miev and work’s great for her local errands. So she’s kicked the oil habit altogether, and I’m down to just 3-5 gallons every 3 months or so. Our third vehicle is a ’97 Chrysler Mini-van that my son uses to go to work and back. If we really ever needed a big vehicle to haul up to 7 we have one! But in practice, we never use the van for that purpose.

  5. Anon says:

    I went to an LA Car Show years ago, and sat in a Volt that had a white plastic center console. I hated it. It looked like it was trying to be some kind of cheap iPod / Apple thing.

    So glad the updated dashboard is darker…

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      There has always been a choice between white and black dashes. My 2012 has a black dash.

      1. Anon says:

        Didn’t know you had a choice… The white just looked wrong.

    2. Aaron says:

      @Anon: Heh… cheap… Apple…

      I do agree that the lighter dash of the first model year was a little weird. Then again, I didn’t like the light interior on the LEAF — I thought it looked weird and would get dirty easily.

      1. Anon says:

        Electrons by themselves, are very clean particles. They don’t leave messy residue, and they are often associated with technology– which is where I suspect the overly bright, clean, futuristic Leaf original interior, came from. *shrugs*

        Might look good in a sci-fi movie, but it’s not something a family with kids (or a dog) could actually live with and maintain for long…

  6. kdawg says:

    My Volt is my only car. If you want to go more than 40 miles, you use a little gas.

    1. vdiv says:

      …or stop to charge. That’s where that 6.6 kW onboard charger or even a CCS would have been useful.

      1. Dan says:

        The problem is that commercial charging fees are so much more expensive than residential rates that it’s barely cost competitive with gas (and probably less so with Volt 2.0). So unless you can charge for free, charging away from home just doesn’t make sense financially.

      2. VFanRJ says:

        so true. It would be nice to see the gen2 have a 6.6 kWh or higher charger. I know it would make a difference in my situation.

    2. ClarksonCote says:

      Here too, kdawg. My only car that uses no gas for my daily commutes, but lets me drive 350 miles without stopping to visit family. Win. 🙂

  7. vdiv says:

    Considering that most people out there are single, why can’t the Volt be their only car?

    “…if you can stand the four-passenger layout…” seriously?! Who could ever “stand” or sit in this case in that fifth middle seat anyway? What part of a “compact car” doesn’t Motor Trend understand?

    1. lvkc says:

      Thankyou, the hoopla over the four seat volt is, in my opinion, blown way out of proportion. Unless you have a family of five I hardly think it would be a regular issue. I’d rather have the four seater. Having the middle console I can pack long things like skiis and not have to fold a seat down.

  8. Scott says:

    I have to say, a volt with 60-80 miles of e-range and DC/QC charge capability and our family no longer needs our Civic. We can go anywhere on the Front-range of Colorado with our Leaf so I’m ready for an EREV for the rest if we can cover the daily commute on electricity. (52 miles rnd trip. So 60-80 miles “claimed.”)

  9. Lou says:

    My 2012 Volt was easily getting 50+ miles in temperate weather. Since the cold has set in(today we started at about 35 degrees F) the range dropped to 43 miles. The estimated range seems to be spot on with the Volt, as I find it predicts exactly what I actually end up driving. I have not sensed a need for QC, but I wouldn’t mind it, either. The 6.6 on board would be nicer, but then again, I trickle charge and it’s working out for me.

  10. pjkPA says:

    My Volt will be 2 years old next month.
    I don’t miss the 70 or so trips to the gas station .. or the 4 oil changes I didn’t need in the Volt. I also don’t miss the smell in the garage every morning… or the heat in the summer when pulling in after work… The Volt has no odors and no massive heat from hot exhaust or engine… I drive my 21 mile commute all electric.
    I see no reason to go back.

  11. Jeff D says:

    I disagree with Motor Trend’s view that the Volt is only for two people. I am 6’3″in tall, and I fit comfortably in the back of a friend’s Volt. Sure it would be nice if it seated 5, but it comfortably fits the 4 that it says it seats.

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      The 4 seat configuration actually makes it very comfortable on long trips for rear passengers. Bucket seats instead of bench seats play a big role.

      The leg room is limited for some, seems like it depends on how far back the front seat is positioned more than the height of the person sitting in the back.

    2. Stephen says:

      We are a 3 person family and its is our first choice over our Outback, except for when we are carrying lots of cargo or going out in the snow.

    3. Victor says:

      Jeff,
      the seating arrangement in the back seat of the Volt is totally inadequate. I am 6′ 3″ and when I sat in the front my wife couldn’t get in behind me and she is 5′ 4″. I have sat in 2 door sports cars that had more room in the backseat. The Chevy Volt is a technological marvel. If the second generation Chevy Volt can seat five, it will be my next car.

      1. Lou says:

        Victor: I am short, as are my wife and adult daughter. So for all 3 of us, the back seats are quite comfortable.My adult son,though, is 6′ and has yet to sit in the car(he lives in CA, we are in PA). When he gets back here for Thanksgiving, I will have him try sitting behind me. I can say, though, that the bucket seats are much nicer than I thought they’d be. Also, I don’t know of too many small 5 seaters where it is that comfortable to sit in the 5th middle seat.

  12. Get Real says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how mostly empty nesters will talk about the 4 seats as the best thing since sliced bread.

    The fact is that it is putting a serious crimp on potential Volt sales. All the data show that cars with 5 seats (including plug-ins) (no matter how often they are or are not used) significantly outsell cars with fewer seats.

    Best example is the Prius. It would have never become the 2nd best selling car if it was a 4 seater.

  13. Bonaire says:

    I was looking in the window of another compelling four door car the other day. A BMW M3. Not a family car, per se, but the interior space looked about the same size as a Volt.